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How to Check the Energy Efficiency of Your Windows

Take control of your home’s condition with these simple methods of window self-evaluation
Take control of your home’s condition with these simple methods of window self-evaluation

When you’re a homeowner in the Green Bay or Appleton areas, the last thing you want to deal with is a full-blown draft or a sudden spike in your energy bill. If you don’t want to be caught unaware in the middle of a Wisconsin winter, it’s important to conduct regular checkups on your home’s energy efficiency.

Yet we’ve consistently found that, even in a climate like Wisconsin’s, many people simply have no idea how to tell whether their windows are performing at the level they should be. Yet even a small leak can end up costing you hundreds of dollars every year, while also making certain areas of your home less enjoyable. Take control of your home’s condition with these simple methods of window self-evaluation!

Visual Inspection

There’s no reason to resort to high-tech, time-consuming methods of assessing your windows before you try out the powerful tools you were born with: your eyeballs.

Many window defects, both exterior and interior, are visible to the naked eye, as long as you’re observant and know what to look for. There’s no reason not to take one Saturday afternoon to walk around the outside of your home, looking out for areas with disintegrating caulking or damaged glazing.

If the caulking is wearing down, you’ll notice a gap between your window frames and your home’s siding—not a good setup for insulating against outside air. Damaged glazing is similarly easy to spot. Glazing is the hard, putty-like substance that holds the individual panes of a window in place. If it has become cracked and dry, it’s very unlikely that it’s properly repelling water and outside air.

The High-Tech Option

If you’re interested in measuring exactly how much your windows are leaking, or if you suspect there’s a problem but didn’t find anything in the visual inspection, it might be time to turn to technology to determine the efficiency of your windows. Two tools in particular are very proficient at this task:

Infrared Laser Thermometer: This gadget gives highly accurate temperature readings of whatever is in front of it – all you need to do is point and push a button! To determine the efficiency of your windows, compare a measurement of the temperature somewhere in the interior of your home to the number you get from pointing the laser thermometer at your windows. If one window gives you a warmer or colder reading than the baseline measurement, then it is leaking!

U-Value Kit: The U-Value of a material refers to how effective it is as an insulator. If you decide to get a U-Value kit to measure your window efficiency, just place the sensors on the interiors and exteriors of your windows according to the kit’s instructions. Connect your sensors to the kit’s data logger, and connect that to your computer to see the measurements. For the best results, you’ll want to choose a day to measure on which the temperature outside is noticeably warmer or cooler than the inside—approximately a 5o Celsius difference would be ideal.

The Smoke Test

Avoiding the need for any high-tech equipment, the smoke test is a simple yet effective way to check the efficiency of your windows. Simply dig up some incense, or buy a new bundle in your favorite scent, and get to it!

Step One: Close all of your home’s windows and doors.

Step Two: Turn off all combustion appliances (oven, water heater, furnace, etc.)

Step Three: Turn on all of your home’s exhaust vents to create a negative pressure environment that will suck outside air into your home through cracks and openings.

Step Four: Light your incense sticks near the spaces around the edges of your windows.

Step Five: Wait and observe. If the smoke from the incense is blown inward by outside air, that means that the relevant windows or doors are leaking air and might need replacement.

Take Action

Windows sooner or later develop deficiencies, but that doesn’t mean your wallet has to suffer month after month! A window replacement can not only help you save on your energy bill but also adds lasting value to your home while making it a more comfortable place to relax.

If your home is in need of a window replacement in Appleton, get in touch with Tundraland! As a community-centered home remodeler, we go above and beyond to make sure every customer gets the window replacement solution perfect for their home’s needs. We offer exclusive, American-made products because we believe in uplifting the communities that support us. As experienced Wisconsinites, we also know the unique requirements this climate puts on windows—and we have a tried and true formula to deliver.

When it’s time to replace your windows, simply give us a call at (800) 834-4307 or fill out our quick online form to schedule your free consultation! Your home and your wallet will thank you.