Take a look at your windows to save energy and money

Did you know that inefficient, badly fitting windows can heat up your house by a whopping 75% in summer – and account for a third of total heat loss during winter?

“This can obviously add significantly to your electricity bill so it’s really worth checking that they close properly, and are airtight when closed,” says Berry Everitt, chief executive of the Chas Everitt International property group, “especially considering the 19.9% electricity tariff hike recently proposed by Eskom for 2018.

“To start with, if you have traditional steel window frames, inspect the putty that keeps the glass panes secured. Given the high summer temperatures in many parts of SA, it is not unusual to find that this has dried out and started to crumble, but fortunately it can be replaced without too much trouble or expense.

“Similarly, it takes quite a lot of work but is relatively inexpensive to sand down and repaint or re-varnish older windows to make them close properly.”

On the other hand, he says, if your windows won’t shut tightly because the frames are bent or damaged, you will have to consider replacing them, and that could prove to be quite costly – although worth it in the long-term because of the greater energy efficiency and savings you will achieve.

“What is more, window replacement may present an opportunity to give your home a facelift and boost its value.”

Writing in the latest issue of the Property Signposts newsletter, Everitt says wooden window frames are a popular replacement choice because they are strong, insulate well and have a natural appeal. They do, however, need regular maintenance.

“Aluminium frames are durable but do not offer the same insulation benefits as wood, while fibreglass or vinyl units combine the strength and stability of aluminium with the insulating properties of wood and are very low-maintenance.”

Before you embark on a replacement project, he notes, you should also check with your builder which windows, if any, will fit within the existing window spaces. This could eliminate a lot of mess and save you some money.

“For further energy savings, you could also consider fitting internal blinds or external window shutters that can be closed to keep out the extreme heat of summer day or cold of a winter night.”

Alternatively, says Everitt, if you are replacing windows anyway you might want to install bigger ones to let more natural light into your home or to make more of a great view, and specialist glazing products now allow you to do this without any loss of security and with greater energy efficiency.

“Meanwhile those who are really keen to make their homes as ‘green’ as possible should keep an eye out for two new window products expected to come to the consumer market soon: solar panel window blinds such as those designed by SolarGaps and treated glass which is actually a transparent solar panel that can convert light into electricity.”