Ask Eco Ed: Still Cold at Home After Upgrading Windows?

Dear Eco-Ed:

In the past few weeks, my house has been very cold.  We replaced the windows last year to cut down on drafts, but that has not helped much.  It cost over $25,000, and we are at wits end on how to get comfortable.

- Hating the Cold in Glen Rock

Eco Ed’s Response to Cold Home Owners

Dear Hating the Cold,

Drafty Window

Upgrading windows may be a waste of money. Consult a Home Energy Auditor to determine the best strategy to insulate your home.

I wish you had contacted my before spending all of that money on windows.  Knowing nothing about your particular home, I do know that many times people focus on replacing windows, as they are very visible, obvious, and almost always cold in winter.  More times than not, there many other areas that will provide a higher impact, or more bang for the buck with your goal of making your home more comfortable.

Windows will always be cold – even new ones.  In your situation, I always recommend starting with a Home Energy Audit.  Every home is different, and you want an objective assessment on where to best focus your time, money and efforts.  This will also help you prioritize the improvement options, based on comfort, cost savings, or health and safety.

When choosing a home energy auditor, you want to find someone who is certified with the Home Performance with Energy Star Program in New Jersey.  That way, they can also get you any rebates and incentives from the State that can be used towards making the improvements to your home.  Ideally, you want someone who is independent also, as a window company will recommend windows, a heating company will recommend a new boiler, etc.

Here are some additional tips that will help warm up your house without spending a lot of money:

  1. Something that most people do not consider for energy savings…. lock your windows!  This is not just a security measure; it will help to seal the windows tighter and keep the cold air out.
  2. For windows and doors that are leaking cold air into your home, seal with caulk or weather stripping products.  Track down all areas where cold air is getting in.  You can go to your nearby Home Improvement store for help choosing the right product for your specific needs.
  3. Remember to take out air conditioning units from your windows if applicable.  Even if you think that it is a pain to take them out and put back in during the summer.  This will help you in keeping the warmth in and the cold out.  Worst case, you can get an insulated cover to minimize cold coming in.
  4. If you have screens on single pane windows, lower your storm windows.  If there are no storms windows, add them, or you can also consider using shrink-wrap to seal windows during winter.
  5. Open up curtains and blinds during the day on east, south and west-facing windows to let the sun in to warm up the room naturally.  Remember to close them again after dark to keep the cold out.
  6. Remove any items obstructing your heating registers from moving warm air into the rooms.  If you have radiators, get some heat-resistant reflectors and slide them between the radiators and the walls to reflect warmth back into the room.
  7. Also, it is difficult to warm up interior air that is too dry.  Try to maintain your home’s relative humidity between 35-45 percent to help you with heating your home.

In almost any home, if you get proper guidance from a professional, it is not only possible to make your home more comfortable, it is usually cost-effective also.

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