Do I Really Need Storm Windows?

3bean3June 21, 2013

I recently bought a house built in 1956 that has its original double hung windows. They are all in fine working order and have no obvious cracks or separations. However the storms are old and barely operational so they should be replaced if the plan is to have them. But do I really need storm windows at all? The house is in the Washington, D.C. area so we don't have long or steep winters (usually). I know of neighbors who simply got rid of their storms and replaced them with full screens. If my single pane windows are tight, can I get away without storms or am I looking for trouble with my heating bills?

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Windows on Washington Ltd

There are probably bigger issues at the home when it comes to overall efficiency but a single pane wood window is about as uninsulated as them come with only a single pane metal being worse.

They do make insulated storm windows and usage of something like that will more than quadruple the efficiency of that opening.

I don't think single pane windows are advisable in any application for this climate and the winters (which aren't really that mild if you go back 2 winters ago) are not the only part of the efficiency equation.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 7:48PM
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I think a single pane aluminum storm would be the best bet money wise, maybe with a low-e coating. Keep in mind that storm windows also do an excellent job at protecting the prime window, cut air infiltration, and greatly in improves the STC rating.It will also give you the option of half screen.
The quality of storms can vary just like other windows, so I would get a nicer one especially if they are larger in size.
As WOW said , it is not advisable to go to a single pane only.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 2:24AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


I have priced out insulated storms vs. single pane and the price spread was not that much at all.

That being said, anything will be better than single pane wood and I agree with you on the other impacts.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 9:39AM
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I would definitely look into new windows.
Windows on Washington gave you some excellent advice. I live in a similar climate and all consumers who choose to only replace storm windows are never satisfied in my experience. I would look into a high quality window that would serve more as an investment opposed to an unnecessary expense.
High end vinyl is my top choice due to superior energy efficiency, structural integrity, and air tightness. Higher end vinyl also looks nice, not like the vinyl most consumers are familiar with from home depot and lowes.
Brands recommended are HiMark, Okna, Sunrise, Starmark, Soft lite, and Gorell.

For wood, Marvin or Kolbe and Kolbe.

This post was edited by mmarse1 on Sat, Jun 22, 13 at 10:57

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:39AM
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If you do decide to replace the storms and/or windows, windows on Washington would be a great resource. I know that they do energy consulting as well, so I sure that they could give you a some excellent direction on your best course of action,
On the topic at hand, I would definitely use no less than a single pane storm. You will notice a significant drop in efficiency and increase in sound transmittance by getting rid of storms with only your original single pane prime windows. The low e coatings and insulated glass packages can often provide good added value as well.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 11:06AM
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WOW, what brand of IG storms are you referring to?
How much more is not much more?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 11:06AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

We don't do that much in terms of storms around here.

Todd...the storm window that we have used before is Quanta Panel.

They make a nice and surprisingly airtight interior storm as well.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 11:14AM
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I have not lived inside the Beltway for a number of years, but don't remember the winters being mild enough to do without storms.

A restored wood window and storm combination will give you about the same insulation as an average double-pane thermal window, so it's worth doing.

As for "insulated" storm windows -- well, they don't actually provide much additional insulation, but if, as WindowsOn say, they are not much more costly, then why not? Can't hurt.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 1:43PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


I agree that the winters here are certainly strong enough to warrant a storm window.

The Low-e storms really show their benefit in the summer months by keeping the heat out of the assembly.

Good to see you back in here.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 3:39PM
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I would not recommend an un-insulated window no matter what climate. if it's not heating cost, it's a/c, which can be worse.
Have a company or 2 give you a price on new storms. They're done every day.
You do not need to replace your windows, just the storms.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 10:33PM
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These days the price of quality storm windows may not be much less than what you could get quality vinyl windows installed for. You would save more energy, get a higher ROI and be more comfortable to boot with new vinyl windows.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 3:40PM
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We have a house built in 1984 (we bought 4 years ago) with single pane + [questionable] storm windows. Some do a sorta-OK job, some do a meh job. But if I was spending the money, I would get all new windows. Why? Well, in the winter, some of our windows have condensation, and I never had that with houses with double-pane vinyl windows. That, in itself, is telling me that single pane + storm windows is not sufficient for our area in the winter. I also like the idea that the new low-e can block infrared on our southwest side, which cooks in the spring before the leaves come out on the trees.

I live in Fairfax county, so same metro region.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 10:27PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


What surface are you getting the condensation on?

While I tend to agree with you in that a good double pane will be preferred over a single pane with storm (in a non historic application), a well functioning storm will usually do the job.

The issue is that most people don't have historic wood windows and their windows aren't worth keeping to begin with.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 7:11AM
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Yes as you cannot assume that by installing IG windows that you will automatically have no condensation. As wow asked what surface is the condensation on as the RH in house may also be a contributing factor?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 8:59AM
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