How Woodland Homes Lose Big Energy Through Small Window Cracks

How cracked windows cost you energy and moneyI recently took a walking tour of historic downtown homes after reading the “Explore Historic Woodland” booklet that the city has published. I love our rich architectural history, but, with autumn in sight, my eyes were drawn to all those old windows. While many historic homes downtown have been restored, other Woodland homeowners are living in houses with windows that are more than 20 years old, single-paned, or cracked and broken.   

Fall is an ideal time for window replacement. Once the weather turns, you’ll really start to notice how crucial insulation is to your home—and windows play a key part. Cracked windows may not seem like a priority repair, but let’s take a look at just how important they are to the energy efficiency of your house—and how one break, chink, or crack can derail your home’s ability to regulate heat loss.

Every Window Creates Heat Loss

Even windows in good repair are naturally affecting your home’s efficiency—on average, they are responsible for 25% of all energy loss.

  • Single-Paned Windows: Single-paned windows are quite common in the tract houses around Woodland that are reaching 15 and 20 years old. Even intact, they are inefficient compared to more modern options, creating extra energy costs of up to $465 a year.
  • Older and Historic Windows: Original windows in historic homes are some of the least effective at insulating a house against heat loss as their sealing can shrink and deteriorate, allowing air to pass more freely from the outdoors in. Crumbling window seals also let in more noise and more pollen—an important factor for our allergy-prone residents.

No Such Thing As a Little Crack

Whether it’s the neighbor kid’s bb gun, a hairline crack, or a broken pane in a double-paned window, lots of people don’t replace cracked or chipped windows unless they’re totally broken. But that gets expensive. Here’s why:

  • Single-Paned Windows: Cracked single-paned windows may still keep out the elements, but they lose a lot of their insulating ability. This is especially true if there’s a gap in the window—if part of a pane is missing, it’s like having an open wound that bleeds energy efficiency. The insulation factor of a broken window is next to none.
  • Double-Paned Windows: The energy efficiency of double-paned windows depends on the layer of insulated air between the panes—it takes longer for this air to heat up or cool down, meaning that heat passes more slowly through the window. If one pane is cracked or broken, you now have the efficiency of a single-paned window.
  • Gas-Filled Windows: Gas-filled windows are susceptible to any crack or damage that can release the gas and destroy their ability to regulate heat loss. Usually filled with argon, once this gas is released, they are also no more efficient than a single-paned window.

One of our Woodland clients replaced all the single-paned windows in their house, instead of just the one that was cracked, and saw his energy bill cut by a third. That won’t happen to everybody, but that’s the sort of forward-thinking we love to see in our clients—especially because of these rebates offered by PG&E that help them save money in a big way.

If your windows are older than your high-school graduate, it may be time to upgrade. You don’t have to replace all the windows, but we recommend you at least begin with any cracked ones. Replacement may sound expensive, but with rebates and financing, you may be surprised to find it can easily fit in your budget. And Bell Brothers knows a thing or two about saving money when you upgrade—we’ve gotten over a million dollars back for our clients in rebates over the years.

Want to learn more about your windows? Schedule a free home energy-efficiency assessment and let us come to your house and help you find ways to save.