Now that the winter weather has begun in earnest, you might start to notice signs that your windows aren’t working as efficiently as they should. In order to keep your energy bills low during the winter, you should look to minimise the amount of heat lost through the walls, floor, roof and windows.
Persisting with older, less efficient windows, rather than making the financial commitment to replace them, is often a false economy. You will spend far less on heating your home if your old, worn-out windows are replaced by well-sealed units with energy-efficient glass, so much so that leaving things the way they are and using the heating more often will add up very quickly — to the point that you’d be better off investing in replacement windows anyway!
Spot the Symptoms: Common Issues with Windows in the UK
You can easily spot some of the signs of inefficient windows yourself. Different build materials will throw up variations on these themes, so whether you have uPVC, timber or even aluminium window frames, going through this list will help you determine what state your windows are in.
- Water leaking through the edges of the frame
This is a clear sign that the window has been installed badly or that it’s been in place so long that it’s no longer working effectively. Do not put off seeing to this type of issue — you should expect a closed window to be waterproof!
- A crack or structural blemish in the glass
Much like the first point, this is an easy, but serious problem to spot. Seek professional advice if you have a crack or chip in a window. If your windows are double glazed, but damaged in this way, you will likely effectively have the energy efficiency of single glazing — which means you could be losing much of the heat in your home.
- Draughty windows
Take some time to hold up your hand near the frames of your windows to find out if a draught is getting through. It’s much easier to do this test on a windy day. A draught flowing through the edge of the frame suggests there is a problem with the seal, either between the brickwork and frame or between the frame and the glass.
The location of condensation will change the diagnosis of this particular issue. Water at the base of the window, on the side of the pane of glass that you can actually touch, suggests you may have a circulation issue in your home. It’s a sign that it’s much warmer inside than it is outside and moisture cannot escape. However, it might also mean your double glazing has failed, so it is worth seeking the opinion of a professional.
With double glazing, condensation specifically between the two panes of glass is a sure sign that the seal between the glazing is no longer intact. If this is the case, you will get no additional benefit from your double glazing whatsoever. This is a serious problem and one that needs addressing quickly.
Why Now? Why My Windows?
Windows have an expected lifespan, and how long you can expect a window to do its job effectively will depend not only on the build quality of the unit itself, but also on how well it has been installed. The seal between the glass and the frame is just as important as the seal between the frame and the wall. Standard uPVC windows installed 20 years ago will not be as efficient as they were when they were first installed, and the technology available in 2018 is miles ahead of where we were at at the turn of the century.
It’s a disappointing fact that a lot of glazing companies look to save money by being unscrupulous not only in sourcing their products, but in their installation, too. It’s remarkably common to find cheap and inefficient windows installed to a very low standard. A reputable window fitter will be able to tell you about the problems with your existing glazing. In the majority of cases, these issues will have been present from the moment they were installed.
Replacing Windows: Strenuous Work or Straightforward?
Making material changes to something as important as the windows in your home can create a lot of stress. Merely thinking about it can conjure images of huge upheaval that put off homeowners living in even the most energy-inefficient homes. It is a job that’s easy to ignore, especially when it often feels like a large, but potentially uninteresting investment. However, upgrading such a fundamental aspect of your home is a slow burn in terms of reward — rewards that are undoubtedly well worth it.
Many local double glazing companies now offer a simple service where you can take photos of your property — or just the particular windows (or doors) that you’re considering replacing — and receive a quote within a couple of days. This will, at the very least, give you a ballpark figure for the work that you’d like to be completed without you needing to take time off work for a home visit from a window specialist.
In addition to this, there are now many finance options available with low-interest rates, meaning that you no longer need to worry about stumping up the cash for a one-off payment. You can expect to pay anything from a few thousand pounds to tens of thousands to replace the windows in your entire home, but the exact cost will all depend on the level of technology and aesthetic you want from your installation. With options including triple glazing and roof lanterns, there’s a multitude of choice in today’s market. These considerations should be seen as an opportunity to save money in the long term, despite the initial investment, and you’ll quickly feel the benefit when your energy bills start to drop while, fortunately, the temperature in your house doesn’t.