People are consistently looking for ways to save money, and cutting energy bills is an attractive target. Contractors can grow their sales with budget-minded homeowners by offering economical solutions like storm window installation. They’re affordable — especially when you consider the relative simplicity of installation compared with window replacement. Plus, they’re effective — they can reduce air infiltration as well as cut heat loss by up to 50 percent.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) advises that replacing old primary windows is the best way to make a home more energy efficient. Indeed, the DOE recommends that homeowners consider replacing their primary windows before adding exterior storm windows. But the DOE’s top budget alternative is to install interior storm windows.
Overcoming Past Challenges
Storm windows were popular in the 1970s, but most were exterior fitting. While they saved energy, there were some challenges in using them, too. They were difficult to install, especially on a home’s upper floors; they weren’t always attractive, not allow much sunlight to pass through; and there were frequent problems with condensation between the storm window and the primary window.
Interior storm windows, however, don’t come with many of these issues. Because they attach to the inside of the window frame, upper-floor installation is much easier. In addition, interior storm windows don’t affect a home’s exterior appearance, and most designs are relatively unobtrusive and allow for more light to pass through. And with correct installation, the moisture issues are far less prevalent.
“We’ve found in product testing that the interior storm windows don’t increase the condensation on the primary window, and no condensation develops on the interior thermal panel,” says Henry Hitt, vice president of sales at Larson Manufacturing in Brookings, S.D.
But Hitt also emphasizes that if there’s an existing condensation problem with an exterior panel, contactors should address it — otherwise the moisture becomes trapped between the two panels.
Primary Window Considerations
Trapped moisture is a concern for Jeff Lowinski, vice president of technical services at the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, who recommends that consumers look hard at replacing their primary windows before investing in storms.
“You have to make sure that the primary window is serviceable,” Lowinski says. “If it’s about to fall off the building, a new storm window isn’t going to save it. You’re putting a new engine into a car that’s falling apart.”
First, consider the longevity and condition of the primary window. Interior storm windows make the most sense when they’re attached to older, inefficient single-pane primary windows that are still in decent, operable condition. Adding an interior storm window to a new, dual-pane primary window won’t improve performance much, and adding one to a decaying old primary window won’t extend the primary window’s lifespan even though it will give the efficiency rating a boost.
Under the right circumstances, however, interior storm windows are a great solution for consumers who want to cut their energy bills but can’t afford to replace their primary windows. For contractors, recommending effective, affordable alternatives like interior storms is a great way to provide value and demonstrate budget consciousness — characteristics that build customer loyalty and might attract more work in the future.
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