Keep the weather out with storm windows
Protect yourself from bad weather – and high energy prices – by installing storm windows. Storm windows go over your traditional interior or exterior windows to help cut down on air drafts, thereby helping you save on heating and cooling costs.
The air space between your regular window and the storm window also helps insulate your house. The most expensive storm windows are made of tripled-tracked, laminated glass for strength and durability, but simpler examples consist of a sheet of clear plastic stretched across a window during cooler seasons.
In or out?
Generally speaking, interior storm windows are easier to install and maintain than exterior ones. They're not exposed to the elements, so they don't wear out as quickly, plus they tend to fit more tightly in the window frame and create a stronger seal against air leaks. Plus, if you live in a condo or house with more than one floor, it's much easier to install an interior storm window than an exterior one.
What are you made of?
Storm window frames are available in several different materials. Wood storm windows – meaning glass or plastic windows with a wooden frame – are attractive and insulate well, but tend to flex with the heat and humidity, which causes them to lose some of their sealing power. Because wood is more fragile than, say, vinyl, wood frames require more upkeep than other materials.
Aluminum storm windows, on the other hand, are low-maintenance but conduct heat much better than wood, reducing their effectiveness.
Magnetic storm windows have frames made from acrylic material lined with a magnetic edging, which sticks to a steel frame attached to your regular window's frame. Installation is easy, though it does require careful measuring. Magnetic storm windows are ideal for skylights, where installing an actual window would be tricky.
Because storm windows serve one purpose – to stop drafts – you want to make sure the windows you purchase are of the highest quality. If they aren't well-constructed, air will find a way through, which defeats the whole purpose. Consider products from a company whose sole focus is windows; Larson storm windows, for example, are reputable and guaranteed. If you have irregularly sized windows, you will have to invest in custom storm windows, because a perfect fit is paramount when it comes to saving energy.