Not maintaining window frames will add to your electricity bill
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, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group, “especially considering the 19,9% electricity tariff hike recently proposed by Eskom for 2018.
A good place to start is by checking traditional steel window frames for putty that has dried out and started to crumble. Given the high South African temperatures this is not unusual but is fortunately easy enough to fix. Similarly it is fairly inexpensive, although more laborious, to sand down and repaint or re-varnish old windows to ensure they close properly.
“If, however, your windows won’t shut tightly because the frames are bent or damaged, you will have to consider replacing them,” cautions Everitt, adding that it may be a costly upgrade but will save you money in the long-term because of the greater energy efficiency and savings you will achieve.
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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.
Top tip: 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 for further energy savings.
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 such as the PG SmartGlass ranges now allow you to do this without any loss of security and with greater energy efficiency.
For those homeowners really looking to make their homes as green as possible, Everitt says that there are at least two new window products he knows of coming 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.