Types of Storm Windows

With energy costs creeping higher each year, homeowners are looking for ways to save on heating and cooling costs. Installation of high-quality storm windows is one way to gain control of home energy costs. Heat loss through single-pane windows when the temperature drops during the fall and winter months can be a costly waste of energy and money. The simple solution is to install storm windows to reduce the heat loss and lower energy costs.

There are several different types of storm windows to choose from when the time comes to make a selection. Generally storm windows can be classified by several factors:

  • Interior vs. Exterior Mount
  • Fixed, Two track or Triple Track
  • Type of Glass
  • Type of Frame

Naturally, there will be a range of costs involved in the various types, especially if the storm windows must be commercially installed.

Interior vs. Exterior Mount

Interior storm windows mount inside of the standard window, usually sitting on the window sill. Interior storm windows are ideal for high rise building where the exterior cannot be accessed. Often interior storm windows are fixed windows, so they do not open. An interior-mounted storm window may prove to be the best application for certain windows, but in most cases an exterior-mounted storm window is preferable. Exterior storm windows mount on the outside of the window and in addition to the energy efficiencies offered, they add beauty to the outside of the home.

Fixed, Two Track or Triple Track

Fixed storm windows, sometimes called casement or picture windows, do not open. They are made from one continuous piece of glass. Fixed storm windows are the ideal solution for decorative windows, such as stained glass, to protect them or for any window that does not open.

Probably the most common type of storm window is the two-track model. It is manufactured with two panes of glass that each sit in a separate track. The track farthest from the inside of the home contains a pane of glass on the top half and a window screen panel on the bottom. The track closest to the inside of the home, houses the bottom pane of glass. When the bottom pane is raised up in its track, the exterior screen is exposed, allowing air flow when desired. Then the interior pane is lowered to close the window again.

A triple track, or three-track, storm window system works in a similar manner, but it has two tracks with sliding glass panes, and the exterior track is all screen material, allowing a homeowner to achieve air flow from the top portion of the window, the bottom portion of the window or if the both panes of glass are removed the entire window. This type of storm window offers the most flexibility in air flow.

Triple track storm window carry a higher price tag than a two track storm windows while a solid, fixed-pane storm window that does not open carries the lowest price tag.

Types of Glass

Storm windows can be made from many types of glass. 3/16' standard glass is the most common, but they can be made with tempered glass, tinted glass, laminated glass, Low-E glass and plexiglass (which is not glass at all). As you can see storm windows are very flexible. Obviously cost plays a major factor when it comes to selecting your type of glass.

Types of Frame

Storm window frame material can be vinyl, wood or aluminum. Aluminum is by far the most popular material. Vinyl storm windows are available, but are not popular. Wood storm window are for the most part extinct.

Basically, the choice of any storm window will markedly improve the energy efficiency of a home by reducing air flow through windowpanes and air pockets around windows. That is the primary purpose of storm windows - to reduce air flow. And, by reducing air flow, climate control within the home is dramatically improved. Indoor temperatures will remain more stable during both heating and cooling seasons as soon as storm windows are installed.

In addition, better control of dust, allergens and noise can be expected as well. Improvements in climate control and dust and noise reduction will be somewhat dependent on the particular style of storm windows selected. Every homeowner needs to weigh the cost of storm windows and installation with these goals in mind. Some people are much more concerned about noise reduction, for example, while others may be dealing with severe allergies.

Each window in the home must be measured and analyzed in the process of ordering storm windows. Will it need to open in order to provide ventilation in mild weather? Or is it primarily decorative so that a fixed-pane storm window will work? Answers to these questions, along with careful window measurements will help in the process of determining which type of storm window to purchase for each particular window.

Some homeowners may be shopping within a strict budget, while others are focused on their specific needs. As well as dust and noise reduction, another personal consideration may be wind resistance. Homeowners located in areas of high winds may look at spending more money for laminated glass that is less likely to break during violent storms.