Reduce Energy Waste from Windows

Posted by: Anna | 03/07/2017 at 09:30 AM

Reduce Energy Waste from Windows

Windows in your home provide great views and fresh air. But they can also run up your energy bills. Older homes or newer models that have not had energy-efficient windows installed can cost you quite a bit of money. It is estimated that heat loss through drafty windows can account for 10-25% of your electric bill.

Energy-Saving Window Treatments

Homeowners often decorate their windows with drapes or shutters. With the right placement and proper materials, these decorations can help lower the household energy bills. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) states that medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33 percent. You can even further reduce energy usage with a few of these other additions to your home.

Awnings & Overhangs

These fashionable features can be designed to shade one window or the entire side of your house. During the summer, south-facing windows can see up to a 65 percent reduction on solar heat and 77 percent on west-facing windows by adding awnings.


It is more difficult to control heat loss with blinds because of the slat openings, but they are versatile for controlling light and ventilation. When completely closed, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by about 45 percent. In the winter, opening blinds during daylight can provide warmth, and closing them when temperatures drop can provide an extra barrier to the cold.


It is hard to report the energy savings of drapes. How much of an energy savings they can provide is dependent on many factors, including the type of fabric and even the color. They should still be considered because draperies with a medium color and white backing have been proven to reduce heat gains by a third.

High-Reflectivity Film

Tinting windows will help block summer heat gain, and it works better in areas where it is warmer longer. Reflective film blocks the sun’s radiant heat in the summer, and the longer the summer, the longer it works. It should also be noted that tinted windows reduce natural light inside the house and impair outside visibility.

Mesh Window Screens

These can diffuse solar radiation and reduce heat intakes in the summer. These work best when added to east-facing and west-facing windows. Like reflective film, “black out” screens reduce visibility and natural light.

Saving Energy with New Windows

There are less expensive ways to reduce energy costs than simply replacing your windows, though new double-pane or triple-pane windows will greatly outperform a single-pane window. The money you would spend on replacing windows, though, might be better spent on sealing any air leaks around windows and doors and increasing your insulation levels.

As a homeowner there are some first, less-expensive steps to take before replacing windows. Using weather stripping or plastic film to cover drafts in windows and doors will give you a more immediate payback. Sealing holes with foam or caulk will also reduce big leaks.

However, some of the largest energy-wasting leaks are hidden within your walls. Air flows from a hole where the plumbing stack exits the wall or vent for the furnace are located are possible places you could be losing heating and air conditioning. Here’s how to check your home for air leaks.

How to Check for Air Leaks

Use this list to detect energy wasting leaks in your home:

  • Visual Inspection - When you begin checking your home for air leaks, start with a thorough inspection of both the exterior and interior of windows and doors. Look for light coming through cracks or damaged weather stripping that needs replacing.
  • Smoke Test – To do this, you will need to create negative pressure in your home. Close all windows and doors and turn off any appliances with combustion like the furnace or water heater. Then turn on the kitchen and bathroom exhaust vents to suck out the air from the home. Light an incense stick close to the edges of the house windows and doors. Look for noticeable changes in the rising smoke.
  • Infrared Thermometer – A much more technical approach would be to purchase an infrared thermometer that can gauge ambient temperatures around window frames and doors.
  • Call the Professionals – Sometimes a job needs a professional touch, like bringing in a pro to conduct a “blower-door” test on your home. This is a much more specialized version of the smoke test. A fan is attached to the door frame of your home and pulls air out to create low air pressure indoors. Once the fan is stopped, the outside air tries to find a way back into the house. A smoke stick is then used to identify any leaks that are responsible for heat loss.

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