by Jane McLaughlin
Despite all the talk about replacing your old wood sash with low-e, argon-filled vinyl windows, there is another solution: triple-track storm windows. A government study, conducted in Chicago, has shown that installing clear-glass storm windows can reduce your heating load by 13%, and storms glazed with hard-coat low-e can reduce the load by 20%.
Installing storm windows is also an easier do-it-yourself project, assuming, of course, that you’re not afraid of heights. (You will need a ladder for upper floors.) There is all kinds of information available on-line to show you just how to measure and install your windows. But be warned! If you measure incorrectly, you’re stuck. Suppliers will not take back your mistakes, nor will they cut them down, and they can’t be stretched.
So do your homework. Learn the difference between eastern and western casings, protruding headers, and drop sills, and then take a good look at your casings to determine what you’ve got. Check your measurements before ordering your windows. If you’re unsure, order only one window to see how it goes. If it fits, order the rest! If not, figure out where you went wrong, or bite the bullet and hire a contractor.
If you’ve already replaced your windows, don’t feel left out. Storm windows can also be applied to vinyl or aluminum replacement windows for improved insulation and noise control. They attach to the outside of the screen track with screws and glazing tape.
Finally, most manufacturers stick with standard colors — white or bronze — but a few have started painting their windows. It comes at a price, but if your budget allows, you could add a pop of color.