January 3, 2011 in Features

Do Your Part: Don’t let money fly out the window

Terri Bennett McClatchy
 

With all that we spent over the holidays on presents, parties and everything else, who really can afford to let money fly right out the window this time of year?

Do your part during these chilly months to make your windows more efficient to cut down on your utility bills.

In the winter, drafty windows can account for up to 25 percent of our heating bill. However, there are some fixes that will make all the difference.

Common choices include insulating drapes, interior storm windows and plastic window insulation kits. Each of these solutions has its own pros and cons, but they all insulate the same way: They create an insulated air buffer between your home and the window surface.

Insulated drapes are considered the most attractive option, but experts stress the importance of proper installation.

They must be flush with the wall to effectively create an air space between the window surface and the curtains. Improperly installed curtains that let air pass through the sides of the drapes can actually pull heat away from the room.

Drapes, of course, can be reused and will help reduce utilities costs in every season.

Interior storm windows can be fitted to your windows and are effective at reducing air infiltration. These units use a fitted pane that often clips into a frame.

Pane materials range from the more expensive glass to polycarbonate plastic. The advantage to interior storm windows is that they can be reused for several years.

Many people favor interior storm windows over exterior varieties because they are easier to install and will require less maintenance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, interior storm windows can reduce heat loss by 25 to 50 percent.

Plastic insulation kits are a very economical choice. The kits include a plastic sheet that is attached to a window frame with adhesive tape and then stretched tight by applying heat with a hair dryer.

The plastic film is made of vinyl, polyester or polyethylene and can theoretically be removed and stored for next winter’s use. Most homeowners, however, find these kits to be single-season items due to tears in the plastic and the milky appearance created by the aging plastic.

So which is your best choice? Go with a reusable option like interior storm windows or insulating drapes.

Homeowners who want to realize long-term savings should consider upgrading to Energy Star qualified windows. Energy Star-rated windows will have a substantial upfront cost but are the most efficient way to reduce home heat loss around windows.

Whether you go big or small, do your part to keep the warm air inside your home and more money in your wallet.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist and host of DoYourPart.com, where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com.


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