Storm Windows and Replacements: A Guide

Is your older home ready for a glass upgrade? Are you not sure whether you should add storm windows, choose complete replacements, or combine both? Before you buy, take a look at what you need to know about your options.

What Are Storm Windows?

Even though these windows have the word storm in the title, homeowners don’t only use them during heavy rainfalls or other wild weather. While storm windows can technically help protect your home from excess winds during a severe storm, they also serve other purposes.

Storm windows are available in fixed or removable options. Some homeowners remove these windows for part of the year and replace them with screens.

These clear glass add-ons create an extra barrier between the cold and heat and your house. This helps to increase the energy efficiency of the main windows and decrease heating and cooling losses due to insulation issues.

Newer storm windows are available with Low-E (or low emissivity) glass. This type of coating reduces heat transmission. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the emissivity of uncoated (clear) glass is near 0.84. The emissivity for Low-E glass is 0.16 or under.

The Department of Energy notes that Low-E coatings can reduce energy loss by between 30 and 50 percent. Not only does this make Low-E storm windows eco-conscious options, but these window add-ons can also save you money in home cooling costs.

Low-E storm windows can also help to stop air leakage by as much as 10 percent, according to the Department of Energy. This can reduce drafts and increase interior home comfort. This type of well-sealed storm window can also reduce noise transfer. This is ideal if your home borders a busy street or you have construction in the area.

Does Every Window Need a Storm Window?

No. Many older windows also have either fixed or removable storm glass. This addition was necessary to increase insulation and energy efficiency.

Decades ago, home windows had one pane of glass. This type of single-pane model did little to keep the cold and hot air out and the cooled or heated air in. In comparison, modern windows typically have a multi-pane structure. This two- to three-pane of glass setup provides superior insulation. Along with the extra panes, these windows have gas in between the glass. This gas acts as an invisible cushion of insulation.

If your home has new multi-pane windows or you plan to replace your existing windows with an insulated multiple-pane option, you won’t likely need storm windows. But if you don’t want to replace older windows or you have an older window and storm window combination, your home will likely need new storm windows.

Again, newer storm windows often come with Low-E coatings. This can help you to control home energy usage and heat gains when paired with older windows.

Should You Add Storm Windows or Replace the Entire Unit?

According to the Department of Energy, some storm windows provide a similar level of savings as full window replacements when combined with your home’s main windows. In general, storm windows are an inexpensive option or will cost less than a full replacement. But this doesn’t always mean a storm window add-on is the right choice for your home.

A full window replacement offers benefits that new storm windows won’t, Some replacements —depending on the materials and model — are more energy-efficient than single storm panels. Replacements may also offer aesthetic benefits that storm windows can’t. Before you choose one option over the other, talk to a qualified window installation contractor. The professional can guide you through the purchase process.

Are you ready to replace your home’s windows? Contact Fischer Window & Door Store for more information.