According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat gained and lost through windows accounts for more than 25% of the energy used to heat and cool a home. That means about ¼ of your air conditioning is literally going out the window.
If you want to save money on cooling bills, here are three easy ways to insulate your windows for summer.
Block the Sun
Solar heat can raise the temperature in your home, making your air conditioner work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature. This is called solar heat gain. There are a few ways to insulate your windows by blocking the sun’s rays:
Insulated cellular shades with side tracks can reduce solar heat by as much as 80%.
Curtains or draperies hung close to the window, extending from floor to ceiling, and attached to the wall on the sides with velcro can block about 33% of solar heat gain.
Window quilts are usually more economical than cellular shades, with similar heat-blocking benefits. They’re simply sheets of quilted material that are attached to the window trim either on tracks or with velcro or snaps.
Window film can block solar heat gain and also protect your home’s furnishings by reducing UV rays. Keep in mind, they’ll also block heat in the winter. Films can be a good alternative to other coverings for windows that are hard to fit or where you don’t want to block the view. They vary in effectiveness, with some manufacturers reporting up to 30% energy savings. They’re most beneficial when installed on windows that face east or west.
Outside your home, planting trees or adding awnings will provide permanent barriers between the sun’s rays and your windows.
Add a Layer of Air
Creating an air pocket next to the glass will help keep solar heat from spreading throughout your home. This is true insulation, and there are several options to accomplish it:
Attach heavy-duty clear vinyl all the way around the edge of the window frame.
Attach bubble wrap to the windows. Simply cut it to fit, spray the glass with water, and then stick the bubble wrap on.
Add shutters that are fitted snugly to the inside of the window frames.
The sun isn’t the only culprit when it comes to heat gain through windows. Hot summer air leaking around the frames can also drive up your cooling costs. Fortunately, these are some of the easiest issues to address:
Apply foam, vinyl, felt or metal weatherstripping around window edges to block drafts.
Use spray foam for large openings around window frames.
Small gaps between window glass and the frame can be sealed with clear caulk. Make sure to choose one made for your window’s materials and that will withstand temperature changes.
Replace older windows with new, energy-efficient windows.