When trying to make old windows more efficient, you should first think about any areas of your home that are experiencing draughts before you consider replacing windowpanes. Air coming in from the outside plays a major factor in heat loss and most draughts come from rubber gaskets or seals that have become worn and tired. Here are some more common issues:
1. Faulty hinges
Another big draught factor might be broken hinges. When the arms on hinges break, they cause a gap down the side of the window where air can easily come through. A window with broken hinges is often enough to create cold spots, more unwanted noise from the outside and increased heating and energy bills.
2. Broken locks
Similarly, broken locks can cause problems. If your locking mechanism has failed and is only locking in certain points, it can mean certain sides are not pulling into the frame – causing air gaps and heat loss. Substandard or ageing silicone products or application from previous installers can also lead to issues with the energy efficiency of your home.
3. Blown or shrunken gaskets
Shrunken rubber gaskets within window frames are very rare, as they are made from a solid, robust, high-grade rubber. So it’s very unusual to find that those will be causing you any problems. In the majority of cases, you will find that it’s the moving parts of doors and windows in particular that frequently cause efficiency problems. However, the back wedge rubber gaskets that hold the glass in place can sometimes shrink, causing small gaps to appear.
Are there any simple fixes?
As it happens, there’s a very simple DIY solution for this problem. Even if your gaskets have become obsolete and you’re struggling to get the correct size, you can apply some high quality, low modulas black silicone to plug any gaps. This is a very beneficial practice when trying to eliminate air leaks, as it dries well and blends in with the existing component.
Even simpler in theory – but more expensive in practice – a brand new pair of heavy curtains or wooden window shutters can help to insulate, add warmth and stop unwanted air from inviting itself into your home unwarranted. Much easier than replacing windowpanes.
There can be other common, underlying causes for inefficient windows. Bay windows can create cold walls, especially in the winter, and a lack of loft insulation can make your home almost impossible to heat up properly. Even after you’ve decided to have shiny, new double glazing installed.
When to consider an energy audit?
An energy audit can determine exactly where efficiency issues within your home are occurring. These are carried out by experienced thermal imaging camera surveyors and can expedite the process of finding out exactly why areas of your home (such as old windows) are not performing as they should. While this may seem a bit of an expensive way of finding out how to save money, the results of an energy audit are usually solid and eliminate the stress of trying to determine for yourself exactly what’s causing heat loss.
There are many retrofit ‘sticky’ draft excluders that can be purchased online that are undoubtedly effective at dealing with the problem of draughty windows. These can be applied down the face of the windows or, if you clean the existing rubber gaskets with degreasing products, can even be installed on top. It is always advisable to try one side first though when carrying out the repair, to ensure that the window locks smoothly. Sometimes the extra thickness can make the window bind and hard to lock, or even break existing window locks.
If you already have double-glazed window frames and are finding it difficult to understand why they seem so cold, ensure that you have tried to eliminate draughts first before considering replacing frames or even taking the more cost-effective option of replacing windowpanes. Sometimes the simplest solution really is the best way forward.
Upgrading to heat-insulated glazing
If you have carried out all the above tests and your window frames are in full working order, but the glass is older and underperforming, it may be worth gathering some estimates for upgrading and replacing it with the most up-to-date, heat-insulated glass. Which is a great and relatively affordable way to make old windows even more energy efficient.
By replacing older glass panes with the latest, A-rated double glazed sealed units that boast cutting edge technology you can create a much warmer, cosier home. Don’t forget though, that adding new double glazed panes to existing frames can add extra weight and fog up over time if you have any existing moisture leakage.
Before spending any money or upgrading your glass or frames, it is cost effective and well worth trying out the energy saving tips mentioned above. Not only could you identify exactly what is causing a colder house, you’re likely to lower your monthly energy spend.
Features of an A-Rated window
1. Warm edge space bar, filled with desiccant.
2. Ultra clear low iron glass.
3. Low E or softcoat energy efficiency glass.
If you do decide that new double glazed windows or replacing windowpanes is the way to go, not only will you address the heating, energy efficiency and sound issues previously discussed, you’ll likely improve the value of your home and your enjoyment of it. While giving yourself the peace of mind that, while the initial cost might be steeper, you’ll be seeing your way to improved savings and security in the long run.