How to Make Single-Pane Windows More Energy Efficient

Windows can be very expensive to replace, especially if you’re looking at a full house window replacement.

When we did a full house window replacement, the estimates ended up costing tens of thousands of dollars. There were so many thoughts going through our heads.

What if you could improve your current windows at a fraction of the price?

Are there ways to make old windows better, without paying an arm and a leg and possibly a kidney as well?

old windows
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Maybe you have the same thoughts going through your head too. Here are different DIY solutions that you can try before getting on the phone with your local window experts.

They range in price, effort, and effectiveness. If you are willing to give them a go, some of these methods could extend the time between now and when you need new windows.

1. Apply Weather Stripping and Caulking

weather stripping
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You may have seen these rolls at your local home improvement store, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s. These are relatively inexpensive, costing about $6 per 10ft of material.

Weather stripping is an easy solution to try out. It involves getting these rolls of foam or rubber and placing them in places where you feel air leaking through your window.

The rolls already come with adhesive on them, so all you do is measure the area you want to install it, cut it to length, peel off the tape, and press it in.

Weather stripping materials are cheap and last a long time.

Here is a video from Lowe’s Home Improvement that will help you install weather stripping to your windows with practical tips.

Here are the steps:

  1. Identify the gaps in your window where air leaks through.
  2. Purchase enough weather stripping material for your desired area.
  3. Measure the area you want to apply weather stripping.
  4. Clean the surface you want to attach it to.
  5. Cut the material.
  6. Install the weather stripping by pressing it in evenly.
  7. Check for air leakage again to see if you’ve done a good job.

Weather stripping is a great tool because you don’t need a professional to do it. If you do it wrong, you can always take it off and try again.

caulking a window
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Redoing the caulking around your window could be another thing to do at the same time you apply weather stripping. The idea is basically the same. Let less air leave or enter.

If there are areas where you feel a draft, there may be leaks in the caulking from when your windows were installed. Over time, this caulking wears down. Good thing caulking is super easy and affordable!

Weather stripping and caulking also helps with decreasing condensation on your windows too. What a win-win!

2. Install Window Inserts

Another relatively affordable option to upgrade your old windows are window inserts. These can be bought online once you measure your windows because they need to fit perfectly.

They are a couple hundred dollars each, but it ends up being much more budget-friendly than a full house window replacement.

What are window inserts? These are panels of glass with tubing around the edges that can be installed onto the interior of your window. It only takes a couple of minutes if you’ve measured your window insert properly.

If you have a single-pane window, using a window insert will simulate a double-pane window. You get an extra layer of insulation.

Indow is a company that’s been making window inserts for many years with good reviews and results.

Read more about window inserts and someone’s success with using them through the winter.

3. Add Window Treatments

rolling blinds
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A lot of options to make windows more energy efficient also make them look “ugly.” The windows no longer look like themselves.

Using window treatments like blinds, blackout curtains, drapes, and rolling shades adds a more aesthetic appeal to your windows without making them look less “window-like.”

Here are some types of window treatments that you can pick from that improve the energy efficiency of your windows:

  • Blinds
  • Drapes
  • Rolling shades
  • Shutters
  • Light filtering cellular shades
  • Blackout curtains

Maybe you have these treatments already installed in your home, but you never open or close them.

Being strategic about closing and opening different blinds throughout the day can maximize your energy savings.

When it’s hot and the sun is pointing directly onto a window, close the blinds. When it’s cold and the sun is out, open them to allow more heat into your home.

These things take some effort on your part, but it’s mostly free. You can save a lot of money by reducing sunlight entering your home in the summer and increasing sunlight in the winter.

4. Use Solar Window Film

installing window film
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Ready for a DIY solution? Solar window film can be purchased from your local hardware store or even Amazon.

It comes in rolls and looks like shiny wrapping paper. The only difference is, it’s actually useful.

These window films let in natural light while blocking harmful UV rays and heat rays too.

Window films have three layers to them. The first layer is the adhesive side that lets the film stick to your glass. The second layer is the film layer that does all of the heavy lifting when it comes to blocking heat and UV rays. The last layer is a scratch-resistant layer, so your films don’t get scratched up and damaged over time.

There are many options when it comes to films too. You can get them tinted or clear. There’s also films that’ll reduce glare coming off of your windows. Or films that darken the area, increasing the privacy of your home. There are also films with low E coatings that will improve your home’s insulation.

Energy.gov explains what ratings to look for when buying window films for your windows.

5. Use Exterior Shutters and Awnings

awning
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Now that you’ve worked on the inside and outside of your windows, here’s another step to try. Exterior shutters.

They’re not on the inside, but they’re on the outside instead.

Here are some examples of exterior shutters:

  • Rolling shades
  • Fabric covers
  • Hinged shutters
  • Window shades

The main downside is that when you use exterior shutters, the appearance of your home changes a lot. People will be able to look at the your home and just know that you’re trying to save money on your energy bills.

Maybe that’s a good thing, it probably is. You can install them yourself too. These shutters are usually motorized because they’re on the outside of your home.

Here is more information on exterior window coverings to see if it’s a good match for your home or now.

If shutters aren’t your thing, you can also install an awning. These can provide more shade for your windows, letting less light hit them.

6. Get Your Windows Inspected

It’s time to contact a professional! You’ve done everything you could, but there’s still issues with your window’s insulation.

Getting your windows inspected is a good way to decide whether or not you need new windows.

Perhaps one of your window frames is leaking or broken in some way.

These types of issues come along with old age and wear-and-tear on your windows.

Unfortunately, they’re not fixable by DIY solutions.

Contact multiple people to get an accurate picture of where your windows stand. Do you actually need new ones? Or are they just trying to sell you something?

7. Replace Your Windows

new windows

Okay, you’ve done everything, and your windows are still letting in a lot of heat or not holding in heat well.

At this point, there’s not many more options. It might be time to talk to your local window experts to see what your options are for window replacements.

You windows are probably at their limit when it comes to their age and performance.

Despite the high cost of replacement windows, they do improve your quality-of-life, and you’ll even make some of your money back through energy savings and increasing your home value.

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