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The benefits of storm windows can be felt immediately. With proper fit and installation, storm windows provide homeowners with a more comfortable living space as well as measurable savings on heating and cooling costs. Storm windows work to save energy by reducing the amount of air that passes through the glass and through the space surrounding each window.
Of all the improvements that can be made to existing homes, installation of new storm windows is one of the most cost-effective choices available. Cost savings are dependent on local climate conditions and personal preferences as to indoor temperature control. But despite those variables, at least 25% and up to 50% of heat loss can be reduced according to the US Department of Energy. Money spent on storm windows is money saved on heating and cooling costs.
Storm windows are generally made with single-glazed window panes, and although a single pane of glass does not offer much insulation, it effectively serves to create dead air space between the existing window and the storm window. In reality, it is this dead air space that improves the energy-efficiency of a home by reducing air flow through the window glass and around the window frame. Dead air space provides the actual insulation value.
The amount of dead air space created between an existing window and a new storm window will control the quantity of air flow reduction. That is why some storm windows are built deeper and some are built with multiple panes of glass, all designed to create more dead air space and to restrict air exchange more efficiently. Multi-track storm windows require a larger investment, but provide the most benefits in the long run. Energy cost savings, noise reduction and dust and allergen control are all greater in a home with two track or triple track storm windows.
Since heating and cooling the interior of a home creates a situation in which the outdoor air temperature and the indoor air temperature may vary a great deal, homeowners want to reduce the loss of heated and conditioned air, and they want to avoid condensation on window panes, too. Storm windows that fit properly will meet both these needs well. Storm windows that are designed to open when the weather permits provide the additional benefit of fresh air flow.
But energy cost savings are not the only benefits of storm windows. Besides reducing air flow through and around existing windows, interior or exterior storm windows will also reduce the dust and pollen that accumulate in a home. A noticeable reduction in outside noise can also be expected when storm windows are installed properly. And the appearance, or “curb appeal” of a home will certainly improve when attractive storm windows are installed.
Custom-built storm windows will protect existing windows from the ravages of wind and rain, as well as air pollution. A special laminate finish for glass window panes can be ordered when local weather makes broken window glass a constant hazard. Homes situated near oceans, lakes and rivers are especially vulnerable to wind damage, so they are good candidates for the application of a laminate finish to storm windows. Money saved on replacing broken windows can exceed energy cost savings in some areas, making the best storm windows a great investment in home improvement.
Another benefit of new storm windows should not be overlooked, and that is the exterior appearance of older homes. Color-coordinated storm window frames give a fresh look to older homes, while at the same time protecting windows and providing better energy conservation. Ordering custom storm windows to match or coordinate with the colors of brick, paint, siding and roofing is a design feature that adds style and enhances value. New storm windows are not only practical, they are beautiful as well.
The most common materials from which storm windows are manufactured would be aluminum, vinyl and wood. Naturally, there are advantages and disadvantages to each frame type. Aluminum is strong, light, and nearly maintenance free, making it a popular choice for custom storm windows. Coating the aluminum with vinyl provides an additional advantage in insulating value as well as the opportunity to select custom colors. The vinyl coating often contains ultraviolet light stabilizers that extend the colorful life of coated aluminum window frames. Wood storm windows are heavier, more expensive and less convenient.