You can reduce your energy costs by draught proofing your sash windows, and you will make your home more comfortable at the same time. If your windows are letting your heat out and cold air in, you need to decide which remedy will fix the problem in a manner suited to your home and your budget.
Sash windows, usually made of wood, are the kind found in older homes, and in many newer ones, too, since this style appeals to many homeowners. There is usually a top section and a lower one, either equal in size or with a stylish difference. The lower sash, or both, can be raised and lowered to allow the breeze to blow in.
The problem arises when these windows become older, loose in their settings, worn by the friction of opening and closing, or stiffened by age and old paint. The caulking around the outer frame can lose its seal or fall out, the inner seals of the window casings may become worn, and the putty around individual panes of glass can fail. Once any seal allows air to seep through, the insulating value of the window is compromised.
Don’t think replacing the windows with modern ones is the only, or the best, option. This is an expensive remedy and one which may destroy the historic integrity of the house. Fixing the existing windows is possible, with either seasonal, temporary means like weatherstripping, or with structural repairs that can leave the windows as good as new.
Weatherstripping refers to the practice of blocking air flow around the parts of a window with strips of material. These strips can be felt, putty cord, foam, or even metal. The weatherproofing material simply blocks the gap between the window and its frame, or the frame and the wall, and the space where the two parts of the window meet. Weatherstripping can be applied in a manner that is almost invisible, but many do it yourself homeowners just ignore the look during the winter months in order to save energy.
Other quick fixes can include an insert, which is just a pane of glass or plastic that fits inside the entire window, creating one more layer of air for insulation, and blocking the movement of air through the loose panes of the outer window. There are plastic sheets, applied to the inside window frame with heat, that seal the window in the same way. Even heavy drapes can block cold air from entering a room through the window.
A better way is to take the time and trouble to dismantle the window, remove the outer trim and repair or replace the caulk that fills the gap between the frame and the wall. The inner trim can be removed as well, to weatherstrip around the frame on the inside without leaving the stripping material in plain sight. Old putty should be removed from each pane and new putty applied, and even the pulleys, sash cords, and beads can be replaced. A good thing to add in this complete renovation is hidden, stiff brush strips that allow the window to slide open and shut but make a tight seal against the weather.
Reduce your energy costs by draught proofing your sash windows, either yourself or by getting professional help, and reap the rewards of comfort and energy savings.