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Making Your Windows Energy Efficient

January, 25th, 2016

When we hear someone complaining about their high power bills in the winter and summer, the question we always ask is, “Have you sealed your windows up?” The truth is, many windows are not installed properly, leading to air conditioners chugging away nonstop all summer long or heaters that have to work overtime all through January. The easiest way to bring down those power bills is to ensure you have prepared your windows for the weather. While you may be thinking about replacing your windows entirely, that’s an expensive process and you may be able to get the same result at much less expense with a littel bit of DIY. We’ll walk you through a few steps you can take to up your windows’ energy efficiency.

1. Clean, Clean, Clean

Before any further steps can be taken, ensure that your windows have been thoroughly cleaned. You don’t even need to buy window cleaner — a solution of 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water and a good sponge will do the trick. Put your vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle, spray your windows thoroughly, and then sponge them totally clean. Use scrunched-up old newspapers to dry, which will help cut down on possible streaks.

2. Find the Gaps

Check carefully around the edges of your windows, searching for gaps, water leaks, cracks, or drafts of outside air you can feel blowing in. A few tricks for finding gaps that might otherwise be difficult to locate is to light a stick of incense and see where the air coming in blows around the smoke or closing your window on a piece of paper. If the paper pulls out easily without tearing, your window is not sealing correctly. Make a note of where each gap or leak is, so you know where to begin on the next step.

3. Seal It Up

Caulk is an inexpensive fix for drafty windows, and is easily found at any local home improvement store. If caulking from the inside of the house, make sure you use non-elastic decorator’s caulk, which can be safely painted over once dry. If caulking from the outside, however, use an elastic, silicon-based caulk is preferable. Elastic caulk is more durable and therefore better for outside use, although you should be aware that it doesn’t take paint well. Using a caulk gun (also available at home improvement stores), squit caulk around the gaps, ensuring they are thoroughly covered. Once the gap is completely coated, use a putty or butter knife to scrape the excess caulking away.

4. Try Out Curtains

If you find that it’s a single room that gets uncomfortably hot during the summer or chilly in the winter, the direction your windows face may be to blame. Try picking up some heavy, dark curtains that hang at least two inches below the bottom of your windows. If you keep them closed when you are not actively using the room, it will help keep out the hot sunlight during summer months and hold back the cold drafts during the winter.

5. One Extra Idea

Looking back to step 2, if you find that the gaps in your windows are greater than a quarter-inch, caulking may not be enough. In that case, you’ll want to look into weather-stripping. Pick some up from your home improvement store and make sure you still clean the windows carefully and thoroughly before application. Follow the included manufacturer’s directions, and the weather-stripping should be just as or even more effective than caulking would be.

Other ways to bring up your home’s energy efficiency? We have a few ideas we’ve posted on our blog before. It’s also important to make sure you get regular maintenance on big power-draws in your home like your water heater or HVAC system! At Corley, we provide our customers with access to our Service Partner Plan, which includes yearly checkups, discounts on repairs, and preferential scheduling when you need our help. To learn more, visit our Service Partner Plan page, give us a call at (864) 416-7492, or contact us online today!