Anywhere from one-quarter to one-third of a home’s energy could be going out of the windows, according to Energy.gov. “If you really want to reduce the amount of heat that can escape from the windows, then insulation is the best option,” says Chris Fisher, CEO and Founder of Shine Window Cleaning.
Sometimes, inefficient windows may need to be replaced. However, if the windows are in decent shape, homeowners will simply need to increase their energy efficiency. “Buying multi-pane windows that have insulation will provide the best form of insulation, but if you do not have these, and cannot afford to do replacements, there are ways that you can insulate your existing windows,” Fisher says.
“One of the most common options is to use the plastic film insulation that covers the windows, and the covering works because air is actually one of the best insulators,” he explains. “With a pocket of static air trapped between the window and the film, it will effectively insulate the window and keep the home warm.”
Another option is to purchase insulating blinds and curtains for windows. Honeycomb shades (officially known as cellular shades) provide a high level of energy-efficiency, depending on the style. For example, triple-cell shades provide three times as much insulation as single-cell shades. Heavy drapes and shutters also provide insulation. Homeowners can mix and match window treatments to achieve the best results. For example, using cellular shades and heavy drapes can provide more insulation than using either one or the other.
“Even standard blinds and curtains can provide some level of insulation as long as they cover the entire window and they are heavy enough,” Fisher says. “This will not be quite as effective as the film, but it is better than nothing.”
Additionally, a recent study by the University of Newcastle School of Engineering found that Basswood shutters, Red Cedar shutters and aluminum shutters provide the highest level of thermal insulation among window treatments.
Terri Williams is a freelance journalist with bylines at The Economist, USA Today, Yahoo, the Houston Chronicle, and U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.