Storm windows stop air leaks and increase your home’s energy efficiency. They can go over standard windows inside or outside of your house.
Since storm windows are less expensive than replacement windows, they are a popular remedy for older homes. They can protect your house against storms, help regulate the temperature inside, and save you money on your energy bills. But, like anything else, they have a few downsides.
If you’re considering adding storm windows to your home, here’s what you should know.
How Do Storm Windows Work?
Most homeowners choose to add storm windows to older single-pane windows, but you can add them to any window style.
To know exactly how a storm window works, let’s look at the types.
Exterior Storm Windows
Interior Storm Windows
Interior storm windows are glass, plexiglass, or acrylic inserts trimmed to size for a snug fit inside the window. These inserts are popular for historic-style homes.
Temporary Storm Windows
If you live in an area with cold winters, you’re probably familiar with temporary storm windows. Temporary or disposable storm windows are insulating plastic sheets that attach to the inside of the window.
These temporary storm windows come in kits with magnetic or double-sided adhesive tape.
Can You Open Storm Windows?
You can purchase storm windows that open or remain closed, depending on what you like. The best choice is to match the functionality of your current window. For example, go with a two-track storm window if you have single-hung windows. If you have double-hung windows, go with a three-track storm window.
There are four main functionalities of exterior storm windows to choose from:
- Two-Track Storm Window – A two-track storm window has a screen on the bottom outer track and a glass panel on the top. On the inner track, there is a bottom panel that slides up and down for ventilation.
- Three-Track Storm Window – The three-track storm window features a large screen on the outside track, covering the entire window. The two inside tracks feature glass panels – one on the bottom and one on the top. With this setup, you can move the bottom or top pane for ventilation.
- Sliding Storm Window – The sliding storm window works on two tracks but has a horizontal slide.
- Fixed Storm Window – A fixed storm window does not open for ventilation.
How Much Do Storm Windows Cost?
Most storm windows cost between $75 and $200. The most significant factors that affect price are size and material. The average costs are $85 to $180 per window.
Are Storm Windows a Good Investment?
According to the US Dept of Energy, adding storm windows to your home can save you 10-30% on your energy bill costs. But, of course, the savings will depend upon the type of windows you currently have and the storm windows you choose.
To get the most out of storm windows, look for options with Low-E glass and an Energy Star rating.
The Pros and Cons of Storm Windows
If you currently have older, single-pane windows, adding storm windows is a good idea. A storm window with Low-E glass will help keep temperatures regulated in your home. But storm windows aren’t for everyone. Here’s a look at the pros and cons.
- Energy efficiency – A storm window will boost the energy efficiency of an older single pane window.
- Protection from wind and rain – A storm window will protect your home from wind and rain.
- Less expensive – Storm windows are, on average, about a third of the cost of replacement windows.
- Newer windows can stay up all year – One of the biggest issues with older storm windows is that you have to take them out every year after winter. New models can be left up year-round.
- Harder to keep clean – Storm windows are harder to keep clean, making cleaning your regular windows more difficult.
- Not aesthetically pleasing – One drawback to storm windows, especially for older homes, is that they can detract from the appearance of a home.
When Should You Replace Storm Windows?
New storm windows might last longer than you think. Vinyl and aluminum storm windows can last up to 20 years, and wood, when well-maintained, can last over 50 years.
If you’re not sure if it’s time to replace your storm windows, here are some indicators:
- You feel a draft around the windows
- The frames or glass is noticeably cracked
- The window leaks, or there’s water damage around the frame
- During the winter months, it feels cold around the window
How Do You Make Storm Windows Look Good?
A big drawback to storm windows is that they don’t look as good as real windows. But, the truth is, today’s storm windows are as aesthetically pleasing as the real thing. So, if you’re in the market for new storm windows, find a material and color to match your house. You can get storm windows in aluminum, vinyl, or wood frames.
Consider an interior storm window if you live in a historic house and don’t want to block your current windows. They will provide energy efficiency without interfering with your home’s curb appeal.
Storm Windows vs. New Single Hung Windows
A single hung window is a tall rectangle with two sashes. The top sash is stationary, and the bottom sash opens and closes for ventilation.
A standard single-hung window is one of the least expensive window options. But even though these windows are affordable, they still provide excellent energy efficiency when they have double-paned glass and a Low-E coating.
Cost is a significant factor when deciding between replacing single-hung windows or adding storm windows to your home. Replacement single-hung windows cost an average of $275 to $600. The average cost of a storm window is $85 to $180 per window.
What are the Best Alternatives to Storm Windows?
If your windows are drafty but storm windows aren’t in the budget, there are two suitable alternatives: plexiglass inserts and insulative window film.
You can order window kits with plexiglass inserts that allow you to build the insert to the size you need. You then add magnetic tape, which creates a tight seal between the insert and window.
If you’d rather use insulative film, there are two types of kits: magnetic and adhesive. The magnetic window insulation kits come with magnetized flexible plastic screens. Add magnetic tape to the frame and place the plastic piece on top.
The adhesive window film kits come with plastic sheets and adhesive tape. You place the adhesive tape around the window frame, attach the plastic, and heat with a hairdryer until it fully adheres and the plastic shrinks.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
What are magnetic storm windows?
Most magnetic storm windows are plexiglass or acrylic inserts that contain a magnetic frame. You put a piece of magnetic tape inside your window frame for the plexiglass to stick.
Are glass or plexiglass storm windows better?
Plexiglass storm windows are ideal for interior decoration since they’re inexpensive to install, and you can cut them to size. But, Low-E glass is a better option for long-lasting energy efficiency.
Can you put storm windows on the outside of casement windows?
Casement windows open outward, so you’ll have to place a storm window inside your home for them to be operable.
Why are my storm windows fogging up?
If your storm windows are fogging up, it might be time for a replacement. The cause of foggy storm windows or those with condensation can be a leak or weak seal, allowing moisture to enter between the storm window and the regular window.
If you have old, single-pane windows, adding a storm window to your home will increase energy efficiency and cost roughly a third of the price of window replacement. A well-maintained storm window can last as long as 20 years. Choosing a Low-E glass window to help control temperatures within your home is essential.
The biggest downside to storm windows is that they’re harder to keep clean and can affect the look of your home. If you have a historic home, consider an interior storm window, so it doesn’t negatively affect your curb appeal.