Ever wonder why so many things in this world are improperly named? After all, strawberries aren’t berries and koalas aren’t really bears. Heck, Bostom cream pie isn’t a pie — it’s a cake! Storm windows are no better. They sound like something you need to put on your home ahead of hurricane season but storm windows actually haven’t got much to do with wind and rain.
These are not hurricane windows, tornado windows, or windows that are hail-resistant. In fact, storm windows aren’t made because of the weather…but they do have something to do with climate. What are storm windows and why do you need them on your house? Do you even need them at your house?
Table of Contents
So What Are They?
Storm windows aren’t really windows. You can only use storm windows on your house if you already have windows on your house, in fact. Storm windows are designed to add an additional protective layer over your existing windows to block heat and cold.
They increase your home’s energy efficiency and help you save on your utility bills by helping to prevent heat and cold to seep into your home and preventing cool and hot air from leaking out of your house.
Installing storm windows will help to seal up leaks around your windows, preventing drafts that are incredibly costly. And that all sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? After all, who doesn’t like saving money?
Storm Window Installation
Storm window designs are made to be extremely simple and very easy to install. They can be installed on the interior or exterior of your home, depending on the type of storm window you buy.
Measure your windows from the inside molding to the inside molding. Measure across for width and vertically for height. This will tell you what size storm window you need. Exterior storm windows are installed with a flange that is screwed directly onto the existing window frame. You will add caulking all around each exterior storm window to seal them up and prevent leaks.
The caulk creates insulation that prevents heat loss and air leakage. Don’t caulk all the weep holes! You want condensation to escape from each storm window, not build up. If condensation is building up between your windows, then you’re damaging your windows. Condensation causes wood, insulation, and other materials to rot, which makes your windows wear out much more quickly.
Interior storm windows are installed in several different ways, depending on the type you buy. They are secured with magnets or clips in some designs. Interior storm window designs are typically very easy to work with because they’re made to be popped right into place. Remember, you can’t clean the inside of your windows once interior window storm windows are in place.
How to Remove Storm Windows
Removing storm windows is a fairly simple process. It is simple enough that you can do this on your own without spending a lot of time and effort on it. For an exterior storm window, use a utility knife to cut through the caulking you used while installing the windows.
Unscrew the window with a drill and just like that, you’re done. Interior storm window designs are usually designed to be popped out of place the same way they are popped into position.
Can Storm Windows Be Opened?
Storm windows are inexpensive, easy to install, and made to go right on top of windows that your home already has. So no, in most designs they can’t be opened. Storm windows are very simplistic and they’re designed to help you save money.
They’re not meant to add beauty to your home or to have lots of different features, like opening and closing. They’re simple covers that you slap right on over your windows to prevent leaks and energy loss. You can find storm windows in more elaborate designs, but these are also more expensive.
However, all storm windows can be removed. So during spring and fall when you want to have your windows open to let in the breeze, you can remove your storm windows and put them back on again when the weather cools down or heats up.
Storm window designs have to be easy to remove and easy to put back n again because dirt and debris can sometimes get trapped between storm windows and your regular windows. You will want to remove your storm windows at least once a year, maybe more, to clean between your windows. Always clean your windows and your storm windows before you install them on your home again.
What Do Storm Windows Look Like?
The most common type of storm windows is very simplistic in design. However, storm window designs range in style from very simple to somewhat elaborate. Mainly, there are five different storm window designs that are easy to find.
Single pane storm window designs are a simple, single-pane surrounded by a simple frame that is secured directly over existing windows. These are the most common and most affordable storm window style.
Two-track storm windows are made to be used with classic double-hung windows. They have an outer track with a half screen at the bottom and an outer glass panel on the top half. Neither pane slides up or down, as the panes do in double hung window designs, but you can open the window and allow fresh air into your home through the screened portion at the bottom of the window.
Two-track slider windows, however, are designed to open. They can slide open horizontally. These storm windows are designed to be used with slider windows. The openable design makes storm windows easy to clean and allows for ventilation.
Triple track window designs have two panes and a half-screen section. All three pieces of the window area in a separate track so all three can move independently. These storm windows can be used with double-hung windows as well.
Low E storm window designs have a special coating on the glass that reflects heat back into your home during winter and reflects it outside during summer. These storm windows are still highly affordable but add even more energy efficiency to your home thanks to the special low E coating. These storm windows are designed to be used on all other regular window designs.
Frames for storm windows are usually made of vinyl, aluminum, or wood. These are all good choices but all have their drawbacks. Wood frame designs expand and contract with weather changes, which means that wood storm window designs will stop being effective over time.
Aluminum storm windows are affordable and durable, but aluminum frame storm window designs have less insulation than vinyl. You can get vinyl frames in a huge range of colors, which is a huge plus, but over time, they become brittle and must be replaced.
When to Get Storm Windows
Storm windows are most effective if you have older windows or just one old window that may be somewhat drafty and end up costing you a lot of money in energy bills. They work great if you have single-pane window styles that aren’t designed for energy efficiency. And they’re an excellent way to save money because you can install storm windows all over your home instead of replacing the older, drafty windows you have.
You can easily spend $400 to $1000 per window if you’re having all your windows replaced. You’ll spend more if you opt for energy-efficient windows that are specially treated to prevent energy loss for your window replacement project.
Meanwhile, storm windows will cost you about $100 for each window. That’s an enormous price difference, which makes storm windows a very easy way to reduce energy bills without paying for a huge window replacement remodel project.
Storm windows can improve the energy efficiency for any home but they are most effective on older, single-pane windows that aren’t energy efficient. Adding storm windows to newer, double pane windows that are already will not extend the life of the windows and won’t improve the energy efficiency of the windows very much.
If you want to save money on your utility bills but you don’t want to replace all of your windows, storm windows are an excellent option. However, they’re not always the best option for your home. Now that you know more about what these windows can do, you can decide whether or not these windows will improve your home.
KC Morgan has been a professional freelance writer since 2006. Over the last decade, KC has published thousands of articles and blog posts that have been read by millions. A DIYer in her free time, KC has written hundreds of how-tos, guides and tutorials for different DIY and improvement projects around the house.
KC’s articles have appeared in “Popular Mechanics,” and have been featured on Bob Vila’s website. KC has written in-depth DIY articles for Sears.com and Overstock.com, as well as dozens of other websites. When she’s not writing or DIYing, KC enjoys watching college basketball, playing with her cats and experimenting with new cupcake recipes. Follow KC on Twitter @KCMorganWrites.