Tips for Making Your Home More Efficient

Winter Checklist

When Old Man Winter is around the corner, make sure your windows are up to the challenge.  Windows and doors can be a significant portion of your home’s energy loss.  The tips below will help keep your home toasty warm in the face of winter’s cold temperatures.

  1. Check the condition of all of the weather seals on all your windows and doors.  Environmental conditions can degrade and destroy some weather seals and most can be easily replaced.  Make sure they are in good condition to minimize air leakage.
  2. Examine the caulking around all of your doors and windows.  Exposure to the elements, as well as house settling, can crack or break existing caulk lines.  Make sure that all of your window frames are sealed to the home’s exterior with a generous bead of caulk to allow for necessary expansion or contraction without allowing air leakage.
  3. Look for small cracks in your home where potential air can leak, for example around plumbing lines and seal any openings with caulk.
  4. If you have storm windows, be sure to apply them in the fall to prepare for any early frost that might come.
  5. A window that is not fully closed or locked could compromise the windows design and allow for unnecessary air to invade the home.  Be sure that your windows are in good working order and remain closed and locked to minimize any energy loss.

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Condensation Resources

My windows are working so hard they are sweating!

While this may be an entertaining punch line of a cartoon, sweating windows are no laughing matter.  In fact, the windows themselves do not sweat.  

Condensation is the result of environmental conditions that allows the moisture in the air to collect on the glass or window frame in a home.  This effect is similar to the presence of dewy grass on summer mornings or the fogging of a mirror after a hot shower.  When conditions are ripe, condensation can appear on either the inside or the outside.  So what are those conditions? 

The dew point is the temperature at which the air is fully saturated with moisture, or humidity.  When a surface is cooler than the dew point, moisture is drawn out of the humid air and “condenses” on the cool surface.  A good example of this effect is a glass of cold ice tea on a hot, humid day.  In a matter of minutes, the cold glass will begin to draw moisture out of the humid air and beads of moisture will appear on the cold glass.

In short, large temperature differences from the air to the glass or window frame coupled with high relative humidity creates condensation or “sweating windows”.

Condensation can be very problematic and damaging, potentially resulting in:

  • Damp feeling inside the home
  • Discoloration of interior surfaces
  • Mold or Mildew on surfaces
  • Warped wooden surfaces
  • Peeling or blistering interior or exterior paint
  • Sweating Pipes
  • Damage to walls or framing members

In fact, some newer homes can actually be more susceptible to condensation.  Newer homes are constructed with more weather tight materials than older home.  Vapor barriers and modern construction methods are designed to reduce air leakage.  At the same time, these can act to seal in moisture.  Unless provisions are made to allow the moisture to escape, moisture buildup can result.

The most effective way to alleviate condensation concerns is to control the relative humidity inside your home.  Drier air is less likely to condense.  The following tips will help with humidity:

  • Use exhaust fans in rooms where water is being used heavily: bathrooms, kitchens, even laundry rooms.  If exhaust fans are not available, crack windows
  • If you use a humidifier, be sure it is set to the correct outside temperature
  • An improperly vented clothes dryer will introduce significant moisture.  Be sure the dryer is venting properly and completely
  • Be sure crawl spaces, attics, or basements are properly ventilated
  • Install energy efficient windows

No window can “prevent” condensation from occurring.  However, the more energy efficient windows will reduce the probability of condensation forming.  Metal frame windows are notorious for condensation because metals transfer energy very rapidly, moving the outside temperature to the inside your home and creating a “cold” spot for moisture to collect.  Vinyl framed windows will maintain warmer inside temperatures and decreasing the likelihood of “cold” spots ripe for condensation.  In addition, glass packages can have a significant impact on condensation.  Advanced coatings and spacer systems will maintain warmer temperatures inside the home.  

Even the highest performing window will not eliminate condensation.  Large temperature differences with humid conditions can cause condensation to occur on even the best window on the market.

Please consult our Full Energy Results page to find WeatherBarr products with low U-Values and high Condensation Resistance Factor (CF) that can help control your condensation problems.

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Tips for Window Safety

While windows open our homes to fresh air and sunshine, they can prove hazardous. An ounce of knowledge and preparation can keep your family safe from injury from improper use or protection in the event of a fire. Unattended children are the most prone to injuries or falls. Nothing can substitute for careful supervision.

  1. Every family needs an evacuation plan and practice it. Windows can play an important role in the event of an emergency. Be sure to educate children on the safe and proper operation of all windows because they may need to use those an evacuation route.
  2. Examine your windows to make sure they are always in operable order. Never nail or paint your windows shut.Emergencies may require family members exit or emergency personnel may need access through the windows.
  3. Always keep your windows closed and locked when children are near. When opening for ventilation, be sure children cannot reach the opening.
  4. Serious injury can result from falling into glass. Children should not be allowed to play near windows or doors. If certain openings are unavoidable, high traffic areas, consider using Tempered glass. Tempered glass is strengthened glass that when broken, will explode into small pieces of glass instead of large, dangerous shards of glass.
  5. Keep areas in front of windows clear of furniture. Furniture can provide children a climbing aid and potentially cause injury by falling into or out of a window.
  6. If your windows are equipped with limiting devices to prevent accidental falls, be sure all children in the house are educated in how to disable the limit devices in the event of an emergency.
  7. Some homes employ bars or security guards to cover the entire opening outside for security measures. If your home is equipped with such measures, make sure there are release mechanisms equipped on those windows. Time is critical in the event of a fire.
  8. If using any window unit air conditioners, make sure these units do not impede any evacuation plan. Be sure that all sleeping rooms must have one opening that meets escape and rescue requirements.

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When to replace your windows

Are you considering replacing your windows? Here are some tell-tale signs that it may be time to make a change.

“It sure is cold (or hot) near my windows!”

Single Pane Glass – for generations, windows included only a single pane of glass.  This single pane conducted both hot and cold temperatures directly into your home causing significant energy loss.  All single pane units are a candidate for more efficient replacement windows.  Utility costs can be significantly reduced on a building with single pane windows.

Drafty conditions – Inspect your windows on particularly cold or warm days.  You can use your hand to feel for drafts coming through operating parts of the windows or around the window.  Using a partner, you can also shine a bright flashlight through the perimeter of the window and any interlocking point of your windows.  While your partner shines the light from the outside, stand inside and look for light that will penetrate your window.  Any light that gets through represents the potential for a draft and resulting energy loss.

Condensation – If your windows are conducting excess cold into your house, you are probably familiar with condensation which is caused by excessive temperature differences joined with excessive humidity.  Condensation can cause the appearance of mold or mildew, as well as causing premature rot to structural members.  Upgrading to “warm” vinyl windows will decrease the likelihood of condensation.  For more on condensation, please refer to our condensation information.

“There is a fog on my glass!”

Failed Insulated Glass – one of the most important developments to conserve energy was the creation of insulated glass (two panes of glass hermetically sealed to create an “insulating” air space).  However, those sealed units are not permanent and will fail from time to time due to poor workmanship, environmental conditions, or just stress over time.  These failures will cause a fogging effect as moisture penetrates the unit and leaves a residue inside the glass.  Sometimes only the insulated glass can be replaced, but the cost of replacing one or more insulated units needs to be weighed against the cost of replacing the windows with highly efficient replacement windows.

“My utility bills are too high!”

More Advanced Technology – Window technologies have advanced a great deal in the last 20 years.  What was effective when your home was constructed has probably been improved.  Advancements in window design, advanced glass coatings, and even using inert gases in place of air can yield significant improvement in the energy performance of your home and slash your energy bills.  Please review the technologies we use to deliver value into our WeatherBarr Windows.

“There is something wrong with my windows!”

Maintenance – Father Time can take a great toll on building materials.  Inspect your windows to make sure that they operate smoothly, lock and unlock easily, and all of the members are structurally sound (particularly checking for wood rot).  Part replacement and maintenance can be cost effective, but should always be weighed against the cost of replacement and upgrade to new technologies that will bring along other benefits, such as improved utility cost.

“Help!  My windows are ugly.”

Appearance – Storm windows, years of UV degradation, or the constant worry of when I need to paint my windows all detract from your houses appeal in your mind’s eye.  Upgrading to new, low maintenance vinyl windows will offer the improved efficiency of the latest technologies, as well as updating your house’s appearance.  For an extra splash, select one of our ColorGard ESC exterior finishes for just the right emphasis.

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