Our Ultimate Guide on How to Winterize Your Windows

By November 1, 2016Windows
how to winterize windows

Winters in the Tri-State area are notoriously cold. Although last year brought milder temperatures and reduced fuel prices, experts are forecasting a remarkably cold winter with exceptionally higher fuel prices. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects this winter to be 13 percent colder than last year. As a homeowner, the costs associated with keeping your home warm are of great importance. By taking strategic measures, including winterizing your windows, you can reduce the cost of heating your home and protecting your home from water getting in through your windows. As you know, the presence of moisture can lead to mold. In fact, experts estimate that winterizing your home can lead to a 30 percent reduction in the cost of heating your home. However, before you start the process of weatherproofing your windows, you should have an energy audit conducted so that you can focus on the areas of your home where you lose the most energy. Continue reading if you would like to learn about how to winterize your windows for your home.

What Is an Energy Audit?

An energy audit is a home assessment that measures your home’s efficiency. Experts consider your home tight if you are not losing energy due to cracks or drafts in your windows. Most energy audits are not exclusive to windows. In fact, your energy auditor can check your water heater and other aspects of your home to ensure proper insulation. With proper insulation, you will reduce the amount of energy you consume this winter. A reduction in energy consumption will lead to lower heating costs, ultimately. Once your energy audit is over, you can choose to replace damaged windows before winterizing them. As a professional in home improvement, our team at RWC encourages you to replace windows that are 10-years-old or older. Dated windows are more prone to energy loss, which could cost you hundreds of dollars in increased utility bills each year. Our professional window installation includes:

  • The delivery of custom-built windows to your door.
  • The removal of old windows.
  • The installation of energy-efficient windows.
  • The insulation of gaps and holes in your window frame.
  • Caulking both the interior and exterior seals with high-grade caulk.
  • The removal of any debris stemming from the installation of your windows.

As homeowners too, we understand the importance of your window replacement project. At every step of the way, we want to ensure that you get the look and quality you deserve when you choose RWC.

What Are Your Options for Replacement Windows?

There are many types of windows on the market. As a homeowner, it is important to choose a window that meets your aesthetic requirements. It should also meet the functional requirements you have too. The following are the most common window types and ways you can easily weatherize these windows.

Single-Hung Windows

Single-hung windows are one of the most popular types of windows. For many homeowners, single-hung windows are a cost-effective way to get the look they desire for their homes. These windows are less expensive than other windows. They also come in a wide variety of styles and finishes. One drawback to purchasing these windows is the cleaning process. Single-hung windows must be cleaned on the inside and outside too, which can be challenging for large homes with multiple windows. Single-hung windows are simple to weatherize. You should start by using your choice of weatherstripping, including using felt, spring V-seals, tubular rubber-gasket weatherstripping, or adhesive-backed foam. With the goal of eliminating drafts, you should begin the process of weatherstripping early to reduce your energy costs for the winter.

Double-Hung Windows

Another favorite for homeowners is double-hung windows. Double-hung windows open at the top and the bottom, giving you the ability to ventilate your home with ease. By opening the top portion of the window, you can allow hot air to escape your home while the open bottom window allows cooler air to come in. The ability to open both portions of the window also improves your ability to clean your windows. By tilting a double-hung window inside, you can clean the outside of your window without hassles. Another benefit to purchasing double-hung windows is improved insulation. As a standard, manufacturers equip double-hung windows with features that help prevent drafts. In fact, new double-hung windows come with weatherstripping pre-installed along with the header, seal, sash, and vinyl interlock. Although weatherstripping is included with double-hung windows, you should take measures to weatherize these windows as well. For instance, you can choose to add specialty curtains to keep heat in your home.

Casement and Awning Windows

Casement windows are windows that are attached by hinges. These windows break up the monotony when it comes to your home’s curb appeal. Casement windows are different from awning windows, in that these windows are hinged at the side while awning windows are hinged at the top. Like you, many homeowners like casement and awning windows because these windows do not obstruct your view. Neither of these windows has muntins that inhibit your view of the outside. Muntins are the strips of wood or metal embedded in your windows horizontally and vertically. Another benefit of casement and awning windows is catching breezes at an angle. By opening at an angle, casement and awning windows are capable of capturing side breezes that ventilate your home. Use the following methods to weatherstrip your casement windows: Weatherstripping– Use weatherstripping along the opening of casement windows to minimize drafts. Spray Foam Prevents energy loss by expanding into the gaps around the frame of your window. Insulated Curtains– You can also add insulated curtains to keep the heat inside your home. The method you use for winterizing your casement and awning windows depends on what aspect of the window you are winterizing. Keep reading to learn what measures are best for movable and immovable components of your windows.

Bay Windows

Bay windows are great options for homeowners. Also, known as bowed windows, bay windows prove to be both aesthetically appealing and functional. These oversized windows give homeowners an expanded view of their lawn while offering some much-needed features like extra seating and storage. Much like other windows, winterizing your bay windows is simple. Although insulated curtains and blinds may detract from the beauty of your bay window, you can still use draft snakes, weatherstripping, and caulking to prevent cold air from entering your bay window this winter.

Specialty and Historic Windows

When you have specialty windows, such as basement windows and skylights, you can use many of the same methods for winterizing your home. However, it is important for you to consider the design and functionality of the window to be effective at winterizing specialty windows. If you have older windows, such as those found in historic homes, winterizing them is especially important. All too often, old windows are drafty and lead to substantially higher energy bills in the winter months. As such, winterizing these windows are essential to reduce costs and maintain a level of comfort you have grown accustomed to in the milder months. The best way to ensure that your historic windows are winterized without being damaged is to use materials that are easily removable. For instance, you should look for adhesives that are milder or purchase caulk that is high-quality so that it will not interfere with the construction of your windows. In addition to those methods, you should use insulated curtains and other methods to protect these windows. If you are not sure, or you do not feel confident about your ability to weatherproof specialty or historic windows, you can always hire a professional to winterize these windows for you.

Understanding Energy-Efficient Windows

There is more to choosing a window than deciding on the style of window you want. In fact, when reducing your heating bill is of the utmost importance to you, then it is essential that you consider all the aspects of getting the most energy-efficient windows. But first, it’s important to understand the benefits of energy-efficient windows.

The Benefits of Energy-Efficient Windows

Energy-efficient windows go beyond reducing the cost of your heating bills. These windows help to keep your home comfortable, including helping your home maintain consistent temperatures throughout the day. They also help you reduce the cost of your HVAC by reducing the load requirements during peak performance each day. With a reduced load capacity, you can purchase smaller systems and keep them longer. Other benefits of purchasing energy-efficient windows include:

  • Less condensation on your windows.
  • Improved lighting in your home.
  • Enhanced views of the outdoors.

Although energy-efficient windows are more of an investment than standard windows, they are worth the investment. With the right approach, you can offset the extra cost of your energy-efficient windows by saving money on your heating bills.

Factors to Consider When Assessing Energy-Efficient Windows

Manufacturers can include a variety of measures to make windows more energy-efficient, but even trained eyes can’t look at a window and determine whether it reduces your energy consumption or not. Thus, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created national ratings to simplify the process. These ratings are determined by considering each window’s U-factor. A U-factor or U-value is the rate at which windows prevent heat from escaping your home. A window with a low U-factor is better at maintaining your inside temperature during the winter months than U-factors that are higher. For instance, the DOE and EPA estimate that some triple-paned windows can have a U-factor of .15, compared to double-paned windows that can register a U-factor of .30 or lower. Another important factor to consider when you are comparing the performance of potential replacement windows is the center-of-glass U-factor. The center-of-glass U-factor is a measure of the efficacy of the glaze on your windows. To simplify your analysis, you should choose a window that has a lower center-of-glass U-factor compared to the U-factor for the whole window. You should also consider the following factors when determining the best replacement windows for your home. Double-paned/triple-paned windows—These are windows that are separated by gas to increase their ability to reduce energy loss within your home. Argon gas-filled panes—Argon gas is denser than air; therefore, the presence of argon gas between window panes improves your window’s ability to keep your home warm. Window frames—There are many types of window frames, and each window frame helps you keep cold air out of your home. Your options for window frames include vinyl, wood, aluminum, fiberglass, or composite window frames. Condensation Resistance—Condensation on your window is preventable. New energy-efficient windows have a condensation rating (CR) based on their ability to resist condensation. The higher the rating, the better your window will perform when your temperature in your home increases while it’s cold outside. Air leakage—Much like your U-factor, air leakage is a measurement that gives you insight into your window’s ability to stop air from escaping your residence. You should choose a window that has a low air leakage (AL) rating because it will reduce the amount of heat that leaks out of your home. Within the Northern Zone, you should aim for an AL of less than .30. Solar Heat Gain CoefficientSolar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) refers to how much solar energy your window absorbs. During the summer, SHGC can work against your ability to cool your home; however, during winter months, it can help you heat your home. As a resident of New Jersey or the surrounding areas, you should strive to find a window that has a high SHGC, since air conditioning isn’t a significant factor in the summer in New England. Specifically, look for ratings that are between .35 to .60, which will help warm your home in the winter. Although these factors determine how efficient your windows are, it’s easier to consider how energy efficient the window is overall by comparing U-factor ratings.

Consider Your Climate Before Installing Windows

The climate you live in is another important consideration when it comes to choosing windows for your home. The DOE and EPA base their recommendations for windows on your climate. The United States has four different requirements for windows to be considered Energy Star windows, based on the climate. In New Jersey and the surrounding area, the Northern Zone Required Properties are imposed. Based on these factors, you should consider windows that have U-factors of .25 or less to achieve maximum performance from your windows. Although not the best, you can benefit from U-factors that are equal to or less than .30.

Ways to Winterize Windows

After installing new replacement windows using our team at RWC, it makes sense to take every measure to keep your warm air inside. Although new windows are highly energy-efficient, taking extra steps to reduce energy loss is in your best interests. Fortunately, winterizing your windows is a do-it-yourself project. The process is simple, and it will not take a lot of your time compared to other home projects. The following are simple ways you can winterize your windows in a day’s work.


Caulking your windows entails placing a sealant around your window seal. Not only does caulking your windows fill the gaps in your window frame, but it also prevents water from getting into your home. When you get your windows professionally installed by our team at RWC, we make sure your windows are properly caulked to prevent airflow and exposure to water. It is important to note, you should only use caulking to fill cracks, joints, and gaps on immovable components of your windows. Applying caulk to components that move will jeopardize your seal and undo all your hard work. Additionally, the size of the gap, joint, or crack you are caulking matters. Never use caulk to fill a gap that is one-quarter-inch wide; otherwise, your caulk may fail.


Weatherstripping is the process of placing an appropriate barrier on your windows that will block the flow of air; weatherstripping functions much like caulk. To block gaps in your windows, try weatherstripping. The following are some materials used by professionals to weatherstrip homes.

  • Felt
  • Spring V-seal
  • Tubular rubber-gasket weatherstripping
  • Adhesive-backed foam

The method you use to block airflow depends on your preference and the part of your window you are weatherstripping. To maximize the effectiveness of your weatherstripping, you should consider using both caulking and weatherstripping when you winterize your windows. Although weatherstripping is an easy way to block air, not all joints, cracks, and gaps are conducive to this technique. We recommend you use weatherstripping around the sash of your windows and along with other moveable components of your windows. Additionally, it is important that you purchase the appropriate size of weatherstripping materials. Weatherstripping comes in various sizes and thickness; therefore, you should measure the gaps in each window to determine the appropriate weatherstripping to use; one size does not fit all when it comes to weatherstripping your home.

Insulated Curtains

When it comes to your home, it is imperative that it is always becoming. Often, winterizing your home can take away from the overall aesthetics. Fortunately, you can counter this by using insulated curtains and blinds to keep the elements out while improving your home’s presentation if you don’t want to use weatherstrips around your windows. Insulated curtains are specialty curtains made with special backing. In general, the backing is constructed using a thick material, such as cotton, linen, or other durable materials. Insulated curtains work much like a blanket on your bed. The lining on the curtains works to keep heat in your home explains the DOE. Ironically, insulated curtains work great year around as well. Manufactured using thick fabrics, insulated curtains work hard to prevent the sunlight from entering your home, which often contributes to higher temperatures indoors during the warmer months. To keep your house cool without overworking your air conditioning system during the summer, invest in insulated curtains during the winter and be ready for the summer months too.

Replace Windows Screens with Panels

Layers often work better when it comes to winterizing, especially when you are winterizing your windows. With multiple layers, you can prevent all wind from entering your home. One layer you can add to help winterize your windows is adding window panels. Essentially, by removing the screens from your windows and replacing them with window panels, they will act as the first line of defense from the elements for your windows. Your window panels will block most of the wind and precipitation during the winter months while your windows block the rest.

Myths About Winterizing Windows

Before you dive into winterizing your windows, it is important to note what measures you should not take. At RWC, we like to educate and inform you to prevent you from wasting your money and your time. The following are some myths you should ignore when it comes to winterizing your windows.

Window Film Insulates Your Windows

Window film is an adhesive many people recommend to their friends and family members when they complain about a draft in their windows. It is essentially shrink wrap. You place it on your windows and apply heat until it takes the form of your window. Shrink wrapping your windows is an ineffective way to block drafts. If the wind is high enough, the shrink wrap will loosen, and you are back at square one.

Winterizing Your Home Does Not Save You Money

Winterizing your home is a great investment to reduce your energy costs. In fact, the DOE estimates that you can save between 5 to 30 percent off the cost of your energy bills. With the average cost of heating a home in New Jersey just under $106 a month, a 30 percent savings on your utility bill can save you a lot of money.

Repairing Instead of Replacing a Window Solves Draft Problems

There are times when you can easily repair a window, but there are times when it makes sense to replace your window; it’s important to know the difference. In many instances, homeowners repair a window because they want to delay getting the window replaced. However, doing this is the equivalent of throwing money down the drain when the window is severely damaged. To determine if your windows need a repair or if it needs replacing, we encourage you to give us a call. With nearly 60 years of industry experience, we are happy to assess your windows and give you an honest answer about the condition of your windows. Beyond window replacement, our team at RWC can help you with all your home improvement needs. From replacement windows to kitchen and bathroom renovations, we specialize in helping you achieve your renovation projects from the beginning to the end. We are the premier home improvement team for residents of New Jersey and the surrounding area. We encourage you to call us today so we can schedule an appointment to assess your home improvement needs.

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