COST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO WEATHERPROOF WINDOWS SAVE ENERGY, SAVE MONEY AND SAVE THE PLANET.






Hi, I am Deepa Subramaniam. From my childhood till the age of 17, I lived with my grandparents in a small beautiful village - Padavedu, a calm and scenic place, when my mom and dad were busy at work in the nearby city. As my grandparents are farmers, I help them in sowing seeds, fetching water from wells, cattle rearing, taking care of calves, collecting firewoods, cleaning the barn, climbing trees, collecting fresh vegetables and fruits from the farm, catching fish and crab from ponds and I can say, its a peaceful fun-filled memorable place that every child wishes for, to live with nature.

Once I finished my schooling, I moved to Chennai - a popular urban area in South India, where my mom and dad were living. I was fascinated by the vibrant culture, Convenience of living, Great opportunities/Careers, Attractions and Entertainment, Advanced Technologies in all fields, Social Networking, Shopping and Dining and Good connectivity to other places. I stepped into presidency college for my B. A - English major. I groomed myself and appreciated the freedom of managing my own time into Interesting Sports, Hobbies like Arts and crafts and developing my Skills for my next Professional life.

My parents planned to buy a new home when I got reunited with my family. With years of savings and 40% of House loan, we bought a ready - to - move in Apartment style home located inside the community with all the sports and entertainment amenities. With lots of hope, love and happiness, we stepped into our dream home. Days passed by, and we experienced the horrible summer where the temperature shoots up around 40 Degrees. So we installed an AC in two bedrooms to survive the hot weather. We noticed that our electricity bills were getting more expensive, month after month. As the bill jumps high after AC installation, we started to figure out the causes of it. Also, we noticed that the room takes more time to cool. After enquiring about the AC condition and its efficient working, we checked whether we have anyholes or air leaks inside the room. Due to poor insulation, the air conditioner struggles to disperse the cold air and takes more time to cool the rooms, which eventually increases the electricity bills making the AC work harder than it usually does. So, I did some research on window insulation and how it affects the utility bills. Here is what I have learnt. The First thing I learned is the purpose of windows and doors insulation. Why do we need to Insulate the Windows and doors? Saving money: By using smart heating controls and proper insulation, we can prevent heat loss when it is cold and maintain the cool air inside when it is hot. This helps to reduce the electricity bills between 10% - 25% annually.

Increased Comfortability: Good quality windows and doors insulation are useful during extreme temperatures like cold winters and steaming summers. This regulates the temperature inside your home, making you feel cosy and comfortable.

Energy Saving: We know that energy is a limited resource and more than 85% of the world’s energy needs are supplied by non -renewable resources/fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas. By using less energy/Power, we can reduce the pollution from power plants, preserve the natural resources and protect the ecosystem from destruction.

Noise Reduction: The sound pollution or environmental noise pollution worldwide, are mainly caused by Industrial machinery, construction sites and vehicles. It affects human health and the environmental quality of peaceful living. So, proper insulation of windows and doors prevents external noises from passing through.

The second thing is to check for any air leaks inside the room using the DIY simple techniques as well as tests by an expert team of an energy audit, around doors and windows.

  1. DO VISUAL INSPECTION: First, close the doors and windows.check for any daylight coming around the wooden frames of doors and windows. If you see any, then the Windows and doors have air leaks. You can also check by rattling the door or window to see for any movements. If you notice any movements, then there is a possibility of air leaks around it. We need to inspect the door and window locks for extra - tight seal and making sure of tight hinges.

  2. CLOSING A DOOR OR WINDOW ON A DOLLAR BILL: If you can easily pull the dollar bill on the other side of the door or window, then those doors or windows have to be insulated to prevent energy loss.

  3. SMOKE TEST/ BUILDING PRESSURIZATION TEST: Lighting the incense stick/Damp Hand and passing it around the edges of windows and doors. Observe the movements of smoke. If it smokes is blown into/ moved out of the room or if the smoke wavers, or if the damp hand feels cool, then there will be some air leaks around those windows and doors. The smoke pen/Smoke pencil/Air current tester/puffer stick/smoke puffer is used nowadays to find the air leaks even in dark spaces. This is one of the easiest and effective methods to determine the location of air leaks using the smoke tools.

  4. PLUMBING, WIRING OR HVAC CONNECTIONS: Checking for drafts or cracks around the Electrical outlets, vents and fans, Baseboards, Fireplace, drain pipe connections, Window AC units, etc. with the help of service professionals, we need to check it completely for whole-house sealing, to prevent energy loss due to transfer of cold air during summer and hot air during winter from inside out.

  5. BLOWER DOOR TEST: This type of testing takes place before and after sealing of your home and using a special fan to pressurize/de-pressurize it. Then, the auditor observes the air leaks at home and gives potential solutions for insulation. The third thing is to know about the cost-effective methods to weatherproof windows and doors.

Some of the cost-effective ways of insulting your windows are:

  1. Window film: The window insulation film is a plastic film that can be applied to the inside of the glass windows to reduce drafts. This is an inexpensive alternative to double - glazing windows and helps to retain up to 55% of your home temperature of cooling or heating. The average cost of home window tinting is around $5 - $8 / square foot, and for professional installation, it may be around $311 - $712.The quality window films are warranted by the film manufacturers from 10 - 15 years. The solar control film is effective during summers to control excessive sunshine getting in, and the convection control film is useful during winters to control the outgoing heat from inside. One commonly used Window film in the market is a heat -Shrink plastic which can be attached to the window frame using double-sided tape.

  2. Bubble Wrap: This is a simple and cost-effective technique used to insulate the windows with a bubble wrap packing material. The ‘still air’ is trapped in the bubbles giving a double - glazed - type effect. To install, we need to cut the bubble wrap to the size of a windowpane, spray a film of water on the window and Press the bubble side of the wrap towards the glass. It is recommended to use a new wrap for best insulation instead of used ones. The larger size bubble wraps work little better with insulation compared to smaller ones. Though the cost of the bubble wraps varies depending upon the size, brand and quality, you can order a DUCK BRAND BUBBLE WRAP from $10 - $25 for 12’x 60’. You can also get small and large bubble wraps for free from furniture retailers. The life of the bubble wrap usage is around 5-7 years but make sure you replace it with the other one, to avoid the cleanup mess on the glass before it sticks.

  3. Weather seal Strip: It refers to the materials and the process of sealing the openings in doors or windows. The purpose of weatherstripping is to protect the interior from rainwater entering in and maintaining the internal home temp on heating and cooling. Builder weatherstripping can be made from polyfoam tapes which can be used on the top and bottom of window sashes, door frames and self-adhesive, easy to use. Felt which can be used around window sashes, door jambs, easy to install with a lifetime of 2 years. Draft stoppers/ Draft snakes are used to quickly cover small gaps on the window sills and frames. It is a tube made of fabric and dried rice or bought online. Rope caulk is a soft caulk that comes with a band and used to stop drafts on doors and windows. High-quality latex caulk is the best choice for weatherstripping. V - Channel is used for the sides of sliding windows which lasts long. Silicone window sealing is used for long-lasting protection around the windows as it is waterproof, flexible, shrink-proof and will last over 20 years.

  4. Insulated curtains: Use of thermal/insulated curtains, cellular shades or Blinds will work effectively both in summer and winter. Made of thick and heavy materials of polyester or cotton, it helps in preventing air entering or escaping your windows, thereby saving the energy and the electricity bills. The blackout / thermal curtains cost around $20 -$100 depending on the size of the windows. It lasts around 2-5 years, depending on its quality.

  5. Low - E Glass Windows: Low emittance or Low E, is a thin, colourless, non-toxic coating applied to the window glass to improve energy efficiency. The cost of replacing standard windows with dual-pane Low-E glass with Argon gas is around $40 x $ 55/ square foot. But over the long term, it offers greater energy savings and energy costs. Its lasts 10-15 years.

Also, While buying window frames, we can choose the framing materials made of Fiberglass, Aluminum, wood, vinyl or composite because they are strong, durable, low maintenance and provides good insulation.

After I had the visual inspection of my AC Room for air leaks, I planned to fill the gaps using silicone + latex mix caulk. It worked, and our utility bills start to reduce nearly 10% - 15% over two months. However, for better energy savings, I called for an energy auditor to perform the professional air leakage testing / Energy efficiency test. I saved up to 30% of my energy bill by fixing all the air leaks at home suggested by an energy audit. I hope you will try one of these at home for saving energy, saving bills and saving the environment.

"Save energy for the benefit of self and Nation."



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