Many homeowners are looking for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that help increase energy efficiency and save money. Installing a programmable thermostat and switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs can help, but homeowners interested in even more energy and money savings should start with the windows.
Here are a few ways that plastics can help:
- Stop the leaks – Air leaks from windows and frames can cost a bundle, but a variety of plastic sealants can help keep dollars from slipping through the cracks. Applying caulks and other sealants around window panes, frames and sills is a quick, easy fix for drafty windows. Sometimes a simple plastic foam weather strip is all that’s needed. Heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets can be tightly sealed to the window frames (usually applied during winter months) to help increase the insulating ability of windows and to reduce any drafts. And cans of spray polyurethane foam can help fill large and small holes.
- Take cover – Window treatments are not simply for decoration or privacy. Use light colored blinds, shades or drapes to block the sun’s rays from heating up the house during the summer, especially on south and west facing windows, and to help keep out cold air in the winter. Close them at night during winter and open them in the daytime to help regulate heat. For great value, try durable vinyl blinds and shades or look for drapes with a room-darkening, insulated vinyl panel. Vinyl awnings installed above outdoor windows also help keep out the sun’s heat and harmful rays, as do reflective plastic films that can be installed on the window panes by handy homeowners.
- Go modern – Replacing older, inefficient windows may be more than a DYI job, but it’s a great way to upgrade and modernize a home that pays big dividends in the long run. Installing durable, low-maintenance, double-glazed windows with vinyl frames can help reduce energy use and heating and cooling costs. In fact, vinyl window frames save the U.S. nearly 2 trillion BTU’s of energy every year – that’s enough to meet the yearly electrical needs of 18,000 single family homes, according to Franklin Associates. Less energy used for heating and cooling also translates into fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Check with your local window salesperson, a tax advisor or go to www.energystar.gov to check on federal or state tax credits for installing new, energy efficient windows.