I heart my new storm windows. And that plastic window insulator stuff too.

It’s that time of year again. The time when the air conditioners get taken out of the windows, and the plastic film finally goes on. And I appreciate the biggest expenditure I’ve made on the duplex thus far — new storms and vinyl windows. When I first bought my duplex, the storm windows were in sorry shape. There were holes in many of the screens, and several broken glass panes too, which I got fixed immediately after I moved in. My floor had some rickety old two-track storm windows, and the upstairs had the very unruly three-track variety. The screen was on the inside, and the two glass panes were outside of that, so you had to raise the screen to lower the glass… my tenants could never quite grasp that concept. One of their dads tried to “fix” them by putting the screen in the middle and the moving glass pane on the inside, but (surprise) they wouldn’t close! So they called me, asking me to fix their windows that wouldn’t close… good times. Some windows rattled in the wind because they were broken, some had lost the little tabs that keep them in place when open. Oh, and don’t forget the antique wooden removable storm windows that were still being used for the windows on the front of the house, which opened into the front porches. I decided to just install and remove them myself for the tenants each year, rather than try to explain to them how they worked. The whole storm window situation was troublesome, noisy, and not anywhere close to energy-efficent.

A couple of years ago, though, my neighborhood organization was offering a deferred-interest matching-funds program for exterior improvements. The money was to be given away lottery-style, with each qualifying homeowner getting up to $5000 in matching funds for qualified exterior improvements (i.e. doors, windows, sheds, garages, landscaping, but not pools or swingsets). The loan would be interest-free, and forgiven gradually over a period of five years, if the home didn’t change hands. What a deal — who doesn’t want some free money? I put together a plan: new, best-quality storm windows throughout the house (I couldn’t afford vinyl replacement windows, and the wooden panes do add some charm to the house), new vinyl windows on the back three-season porches (extending their usefulness to nearly four seasons), and a new storm door for the front of the house. In total, it cost about $8000. Lucky me, I was selected about six months after entering, and my house is now almost completely outfitted with new windows!

A few old storms remain, however — there were some small, square piano windows in each living room that couldn’t really be made better by new storm windows. They’d have to be replaced by new windows altogether if I wanted to improve their weather-resistance, and due to their odd size, I opted to leave them as-is. Also, both front porches have about a dozen of the older variety of storm windows — not really crucial, though, because the porches get closed off from the living area during the winter.

One thing that was kind of amazing after getting the new storm windows installed was how much quieter the house got. A lot quieter. And, these new storm windows didn’t shake and rattle whenever the bus drove down the street, either.

However, even with the new storm windows and their improved weather-proofing value, I still put window plastic on my windows each winter. The piano windows (with the old storms) definitely need it. The rest of the windows could probably be fine all winter without the plastic… but I still definitely notice a difference in the overall draftiness of the room. If I can feel a draft, they must be saving me more money than the $35 that I spent on the plastic film. I have to admit, too, that it’s a little bit fun to heat-shrink the film over the window with the hair-dryer until you can hardly see it anymore…

Related Articles:

2 thoughts on “I heart my new storm windows. And that plastic window insulator stuff too.

  1. I love your blog, everything is so relevant to my duplex! I just bought mine a few months ago, in the window of the New Homebuyer Tax Credit (which is actually an interest-free loan that gets repaid through your tax returns, so it’s your own money in advance.) I was originally planning to use it on student loans or some other interest-bearing debt, but now I have a feeling it will go toward new windows, as the current ones are, well, horrible. I mean, I feel a draft coming off of the window pane itself, and that’s AFTER I re-caulked, with the storm windows shut. Eeep. My major improvement on energy efficiency for this year was reinsulating the attic, because there was NOTHING up there. Seriously, a few tufts of insulation, but I don’t know why the previous owner didn’t do that earlier; it will pay for itself in the next year, most certainly.

  2. Insulating the attic was my first big energy-efficiency improvement too. There was literally ZERO insulation in the attic. Plus, the heating ducts for the upstairs were running through the attic. The roof had been replaced the year before I bought the duplex, they no doubt had serious ice dam problems with an attic that hot. Since I live downstairs, it’s debatable whether the insulation really helps my personal heating bill, but I hate to stick tenants with a ginormous bill when there’s something that I can do to fix it. I was primarily concerned about keeping the roof in good condition for as long as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *