Despite there being a number of efficiency measures to consider around the home, replacing your windows is one of the better methods to cutting heat loss. The reason for this is inefficient windows account for around one third of total heat loss and not only save you money in winter, but can also keep the home cooler in summer too.
There has been a significant improvement in window technology over the last few decades and efficient units can help you to save hundreds of pounds each year, whilst aiding the environment by reducing carbon emissions too.
The good news is, you don’t always need to pay out for new windows. There are exceptions where you can make repairs to your existing units to improve efficiency.
For all work regarding windows, it’s highly advised to choose a registered professional belonging to an industry body such as Fensa or Certass. This will ensure the job is carried out to a high standard and reduces the possibility of something going wrong.
Why Do Windows Become Inefficient?
Double glazing isn’t cheap, there’s no skating around this fact. However, there are plenty of amazing benefits to ensure an installation is worthwhile. As such, it’s no surprise so many homeowners are upgrading their property’s windows every year in the UK.
What’s also evident though, is your double glazing won’t last a lifetime. Unfortunately, in the same way these efficient windows are designed to retain heat in your home, they’re also doomed to fail.
The reason for this is that the panes of glass are joined to the frame with a polymer compound. Why is this a problem? Because the material is permeable to vapour, so eventually it’ll allow a small amount of water to enter.
Of course, these units are expected to last more than five minutes. This is achievable as a desiccant drying agent is incorporated within the unit to absorb the moisture and prevents the windows misting inside. There will come a day though when no more moisture can be absorbed. The quality of the double glazing will impact how long it’ll last before faulting, but typically you can expect upwards of 15 years.
If you can see misting or water pooling between the two panes of glass, the unit has faulted and is no longer energy efficient. That said, faulty double glazing is probably still more efficient than single paned windows and will provide some benefit. However, from a heat loss point of view, the windows aren’t very efficient.
How Can I Check if My Windows are Inefficient?
With a better idea of why windows become inefficient years after their installation, it’s worth touching on telltale signs proving the efficiency has been lost. Whilst the last 20-30 years has seen much improvement in the efficiency of windows, there are still many occasions when the whole unit could fail.
The following highlights the areas to inspect when judging if your windows have lost efficiency.
- Checking for air leaks: There’s actually a very easy way to check for air leaks around your window frames. Simply light a match or incense stick and hold it close to the frame of your window. You’ll quickly be able to tell if there’s a draught coming through the frame.
- Monitoring moisture and mould: Moisture or mould present between the window frame and wall is another sure sign there’s a gap heat is escaping through. This means cold air is entering your home.
- Sealant damage or cracking: Sealant is used around the window frame to ensure a better fit, whilst adding to the efficiency of the unit. If the sealant is cracking or there are visible signs of damage, you can expect the windows to be failing your home’s efficiency.
- Single and double glazing: Any windows installed prior to 1980 are likely to be single glazed. These are far more inefficient than double or triple glazing and will lose heat at an astronomical rate.
- Replacing old weatherstripping: You can also check the weatherstripping on your windows for signs of damage. If it’s old, the stripping may be easy enough to replace.
- The window frame material: There are three materials commonly used in the construction of window frames; uPVC, timber and aluminium. Each has its own efficiency values and could be affecting how much heat is lost.
If your home has a number of window units, it can be expensive to replace each with efficient double glazing at the same time. For that reason, it’s advised to repair areas such as weatherstripping and sealant, whilst considering film to aid in heat loss reduction, which isn’t so much of a financial burden.