Summer Window Checklist: Keep Your Home Cool Efficiently

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Though lots of homeowners consider how to best protect against air drafts and other window problems during winters, those of us living through hot summers also need to consider fixing those problems when the weather starts to heat up. From glass insulation to weatherproofing to awnings, here are the summer window insulation and maintenance tasks to tackle to keep your home cool.

Why Do Windows Matter For Keeping the Temperature Down?

Windows are the number one spot where energy is lost. The Department of Energy estimates that 76% of the sunlight that hits a double-paned window turns into heat inside your home. The older your windows are, the more likely you are to see high utility bills due to all the sun and heat coming inside.

When your window glass lets in a lot of heat and UV rays, your inside temps are harder to keep comfortable. On top of that, gaps in your window frame (and your doors) let the cool, conditioned air out while letting hot air in.

The good news is that there are lots of ways to help your windows perform better. The name of the game for this summer maintenance task is to keep your home cool, and in doing so, save you money. You can also get quotes from window pros on repairing or replacing windows for a more permanent solution.

Summer Window Insulation Checklist

  1. Weatherproof your windows (and doors). This means finding air gaps and other spots where conditioned air could be escaping and where the outside elements could be sneaking in. Whether you replace weatherstripping or seal windows with caulking, this will make an immediate difference.

  2. Install window film. Window film is cheap, can be installed DIY, and by some measures, can block between 75% and 80% of solar heat from entering your home. It also blocks nearly 100% of UV rays, which will help protect rugs and furniture from fading. It’s one of the most budget-friendly ways to block heat and keep your inside temperatures cool.

  3. Keep blinds or curtains closed. This will also be a huge help in blocking heat from coming in through the windows. If you do not have window treatments, you may be surprised by how big of a difference they make in keeping your home at a more comfortable temperature. If you can’t afford window treatments right now, you may want to consider hanging up a dark-colored bed sheet in front of the windows that let in the most heat.

  4. Install awnings or window shades outside. Most people know that interior window treatments can help block heat, but there are also plenty of exterior window treatments that can reduce heat gain. Exterior recommendations are very similar to interior recommendations. You can apply window film (reflective film is especially effective), get exterior window shades, or install awnings. All of these will reduce the amount of direct sunlight that hits your window in the first place, which means less heat comes in.

  5. Get storm windows. Though storm windows tend not to be as popular a solution as replacing old windows, they are still an excellent way to improve the efficiency of old windows. Modern storm windows have low-E glass to reflect sunlight away from the house. You can also find storm windows that get installed inside your home instead of outside it. In general, storm windows tend to be cheaper than replacement windows, but many homeowners feel replacement windows are a better investment.

  6. Replace old windows. This is the most effective solution on this list for insulated windows in summer (and winter, for that matter). However, the investment is significant. Most homes have between 15 and 30 windows, and the national average cost of a new double-hung window is $608. Your investment will be earned back over time, though. Homeowners with new windows see a drop in their monthly utility bills.

  7. Replace or upgrade your window glass. Not only can you change out your current glass for a more energy efficient option, but you can also upgrade your windows from single- to double-paned or double- to triple-paned. It’s a more affordable solution than replacing the whole window, but only works when your frames are in good condition.

Do I Need New Windows?

Though lots of the tips on this list can help even if your windows are especially old, as we said above: nothing is going to replace the energy efficiency you’ll gain by replacing your windows. However, not all homeowners will see the same return on investment from this project. The older and less efficient your windows are, the more money you’ll save a month on utility bills with new windows. Here’s a quick way to evaluate if new windows or new window glass could make sense for you:

You Should Consider Replacing Your Windows If…

  • Your windows are more than 15-20 years old.

  • The frames are damaged, rotting, or warped.

  • You have single-paned windows.

Get quotes from three to four window contractors on replacing them. You should also ask any pros you talk to what you could save per month on your energy bills. You may find the return on investment to be worth the upfront cost.

You Should Consider Upgrading or Replacing Your Window Glass If…

  • Your window frames are in good condition.

  • You have single-paned windows.

  • You have double-paned windows but have found they’re not efficient enough for where you live.

  • Your glass is more than 10-15 years old and does not have a low-E coating.

  • You need impact glass or hurricane glass, but your current windows don’t have it.

You can get a quote on replacing the window glass or adding an extra layer of glazing (going from single- to double-paned, for example). This is a cheaper solution than replacing your windows, but one that can still save you quite a bit on your utility bills.

What Are Next Steps?

Decide what your budget is for insulating your windows and keeping your summer utility bills lower. Start with the must-fix maintenance tasks – like re-caulking and weather proofing – then move on to the tasks that best fit your budget and lifestyle. Whether that’s installing window film DIY, installing awnings outside for the extra shade, or getting new windows, there will be a tip on the list above that will not only help you maintain and extend the life of your windows, but will also save you money in the long run.

For an expert opinion or to get a quote, get in touch with window professionals to talk through your options.