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How to make windows more energy efficient

As winter approaches, it’s important to make sure your home stays warm—and having energy-efficient windows is an important part of the equation.

According to Energy.gov, heat loss through windows contributes to 25 to 30 percent of residential cooling and heating usage. The bottom line? Along with ensuring your home is at a comfortable temperature, energy-efficient windows help you reduce your bills and save the environment at the same time.

If your windows aren’t performing as well as they should, you don’t need to spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to replace them all. Instead, take these few simple measures to make them more energy efficient year-round.

Conduct an energy audit

When determining the best course of action for making your home more energy efficient, do an energy audit, as well. These cost a few hundred dollars and will show you exactly where heat is coming in from in the summer and escaping from in the winter. You’ll have a clear picture of where to invest your money and what kinds of window fixes will be most effective.

Invest in storm windows

Storm windows are placed on the exteriors of your current windows to prevent outside forces like wind, heat, and cold air from getting into your home. Depending on the size you need, they cost around $50 to $200 and will cover any leaks or holes in your regular windows.

Keep in mind that storm windows can be hard to open or take off. If you install them on windows that you want to open regularly, make sure you can remove the storm windows without much hassle. If your energy audit reveals certain windows are letting in more air than others, prioritize adding storm coverings to those windows.

Add window treatments

Window treatments are another cost-saving solution for energy-efficient windows. Insulated cellular shades are known to be the best types of insulating window treatments. These consist of pleated materials that have at least one or more layers in a honeycomb cross-section. They are known as single-, double- or triple-cell shades, and the more layers you have, the more efficient they’ll be.

Or, consider blackout curtains, which block out light year-round and keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Another option is Roman shades. Look for styles that are made of thicker fabric and can provide light-blocking capabilities.

Caulk around your windows

Take an afternoon to caulk around the interior and exterior of your windows and increase your energy efficiency. Simply remove the old caulk with a putty knife or screwdriver and apply fresh caulk to any leaks along your window frames. Try to avoid creating bubbles and push the caulk back in with a putty knife if it starts to leak. For the best results, you may want to have a contractor take care of this task for you.

Prepare for the winter season by making sure your windows trap heat inside and prevent the cold winds from blowing in. With a few small investments, you can ensure the windows you have will be much more energy efficient.