Energy-efficiency of your home affects almost every aspect of its upkeep. First, it determines your utility bill, directly reflecting your household budget. Second, it affects how warm/cool it is in your home (during winter/summer, respectively), directly determining your comfort level. Third, it affects how eco-friendly your home is, which matters to more environmentally aware people. Finally, it increases the resale value of your home.
Still, how do you know if your windows are energy-efficient? Sure, having new, double-paned windows is one way to tell this, but the number of panes is not all there is to it. Not all windows are made the same (even those with the same number of panes). With that in mind, here are some tells that your windows are not as energy-efficient as promised.
Look for leaks, moisture, and mold
Noticing leaks, moisture, or mold around your windows means the glass seal is bad. While this usually happens after the seal gets worn out, you may also notice this with new windows. Generally speaking, this is a sign of poor manufacturing. On the other hand, poor installation is just as likely.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t always mean that there’s a problem with the seal. For instance, if windows are uneven, water may accumulate in some areas and eventually result in a leak. Another reason is poor house design. Your windows don’t just float in the vacuum; there’s no guarantee they are responsible for the leak (even if it appears in their vicinity).
We’ve listed several reasons your windows are moist and molding, but this is secondary. The critical point is that they’re not supposed to be like that. If they are, it means that they’re not energy-efficient. Your best action would be to examine them, consult a professional, and do something about it as soon as possible.
There are several reasons why your home is colder than you believe it should be. For instance, your furnace might be broken, your ductwork leak or your air filter might be old. However, if none of these issues are true, it’s due to poor insulation. Your windows are a major factor here.
According to some estimates, about 35% of heat leaves your home via walls and windows. Windows are especially problematic since they present a huge opportunity for a leak. In other words, if the temperature difference is significant, this is probably your major culprit.
There’s a difference between inefficient insulation and a gap through which the leak occurs. Inefficient window insulation can be solved in several ways, even those that don’t involve outright replacing windows. For instance, energy saver window inserts can make a difference.
However, if there are any gaps, you need to have them sealed as soon as possible. So, your first step is to diagnose the problem. The outcome of this diagnosis will provide you with the best future course of action.
Conduct the smoke test
A smoke test is another great way to determine if the energy in your home is being wasted. You only need to light and slowly carry a candle around your windows. If you notice any smoke escaping the room, chances are there’s a gap you need to seal. This can also be done with some matches.
The process is fairly simple. You fill small cracks and gaps with caulking while filling larger ones with foam backer rods. The key thing with the latter is that you should get an appropriate size. You only need to push it into the gap with a putty knife. Once it’s in, you additionally seal it with caulk. Another simple solution for this is expendable foam.
Remember that, other than just keeping your home warmer and eco-friendlier, there are other reasons for sealing the gaps around your windows. Your windows are also soundproofing your home. This means that they’re reducing the impact of traffic noise. They are also increasing your privacy. A gap, no matter how small, can disrupt this.
Conduct the infrared camera test
You can also use an infrared camera to see if your home is losing heat via windows. This method is sophisticated and accurate but requires additional equipment you may lack.
It’s a lot cheaper to do this with an alternative device. An infrared laser thermometer can show you the places in your home that are losing energy. If that’s the case next to or near your windows, you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with.
The problem is that most infrared thermometers need a while to start working. For instance, it may take them as much as 15 minutes to acclimatize to room temperature. Remember, this is not what most of these thermometers were made for.
Remember that these thermometers (roughly $20) can be used to check for drafts around windows, doors, and electrical outlets. In some cases, they are even used as cooking thermometers. They’re worth buying if you want to run additional tests, but they’ll come in handy even if you don’t use them.
Visible signs of damage
Lastly, you don’t have to use any sophisticated tests if you can see signs of damage on your window. Closely inspect the window and check for any crack marks or fractures on either pane. Look for holes in the seal and damage on the frame.
Scratches and discoloration are not dangerous, but they may be symptoms of a larger problem. Namely, you have your answers if this visible sign of damage is accompanied by any other item from the list (moisture, noticeable heat loss, etc.).
Just don’t wait for the problem to become too big to ignore. It is only natural to ignore early symptoms out of positive bias. Still, all you need to do for a problem to escalate is to ignore it long enough.
Your glass needs to be as impenetrable as your walls. The fact that shopfronts are made entirely from glass and are perfect for the job further illustrates this point.
While windows are important for the aesthetics of your home and its overall functionality, their most important function is as a barrier to the outside world. A window needs to keep your home’s temperature intact while looking good and soundproofing your home. Fortunately, noticing problems is easy, and you have many cost-effective solutions. Still, buying new windows is always a better way out if you can afford it.