Last week, we talked about the importance of winter window maintenance and discussed some tips to keep your windows in good shape as the cold weather settles in for the season. But there’s one more weapon in your cold weather defense arsenal that we haven’t touched on yet: installing storm windows and doors. Maybe you already know this, and your storm windows and doors are sitting in the same shed that holds the broken lawn mower and gardening tools for the garden you never planted. If so, the time has come to finally pull them out and put them to work to protect your home from the winter elements and lower your energy bill. For those of you who don’t have storm windows and doors stored away or aren’t sure why they’re a good investment, let’s review their purposes.

Storm Windows

Storm windows are generally made of glass or see-through acrylic panels and framed with wood, aluminum, or vinyl. While storm windows are not going to add much insulating power to your home, they will slow the transfer of air in and out of your existing windows, thereby noticeably reducing your energy costs.

Both interior and exterior storm windows are available, but interior ones are generally a bit easier to install and will last longer because they aren’t coming into direct contact with the outdoor environment. Interior storms will also prevent condensation that occurs with exterior storm windows by nature of warm, indoor air being trapped between the window pane and the storm window. Absent appropriate “weep holes” on exterior storm windows, this condensation can cause wood framing to warp and hinder proper window operation. On the other hand, exterior storms are far superior for protecting older windows or wood-framed windows from the winter elements.

Storm Doors

Storm doors are a smart investment to protect your entry doors from snow, ice, frost, and other winter elements that can damage paint and finishes and certain entry door materials, like wood. You can find storm doors made of a variety of materials, including aluminum, steel, and fiberglass. Some storm doors offer added foam insulation inside their frames, and others offer low-emission glazings that slow heat transfer out of your home.

Indeed, there is a wide variety of options when choosing storm doors. Energy.gov lists the many helpful features you can consider: “Some doors have self-storing pockets for the glass in summer and an insect screen in winter. Some have fixed, full length screens and glass panels that slide out of the way for ventilation. Others are half screen and half glass, which slide past each other. Some are removable for cleaning, but others are not. All of these features add convenience and cost.”

Are These Investments Right for You?

If your entry doors and windows are in good or fair shape, consider adding storm doors and windows to extend their life and protect your investments. But a storm door or window will only be a band-aid if you’re living with old, warped frames that let chilly drafts in and warm air out. Weigh your options carefully, and consider whether replacing dilapidated entry doors and windows might be a more sound investment. If so, we’re here to help.