colorful houses and windowsTake a look around an old neighborhood and you’ll see houses lined with battleship grey screens on their windows. These, as many of you know, are storm windows. For a very long time, storm windows were a critical factor in keeping the elements out of homes and maximizing energy efficiency.

As window technology has grown more sophisticated, storm windows have become less common. Many of today’s double- and triple-pane windows are energy efficient enough on their own to function perfectly without storm windows.

Still, we have many customers ask us if they’d benefit from storm windows on their homes. Today, we’re going to go over the benefits and potential drawbacks of storm windows to help you determine if they may be appropriate for your unique needs.

Storm windows: just for old homes and windows?

Storm windows have major benefits for old windows that need help with energy efficiency and protection. As the majority of older windows were single-pane, they needed some extra help keeping the elements and air out. A proper storm window seals against the outside of the home, creating dead air space that makes the interior window more efficient.

Today’s windows are different—they’re double- and triple-pane in most cases. These windows tend to have enough dead air space because of their multiple panes that they don’t need additional help from a storm window. Would a storm window increase the energy efficiency of a modern window? Absolutely. Will the cost it takes to purchase and install them make sense for most homeowners in the long run? Probably not.

When should you use a storm window?

We are not saying outright you should never use a storm window. In fact, storm windows have a lot of benefits in terms of energy efficiency and, perhaps surprisingly, looks.

Take for example a home with wood or single pane windows; adding a solid storm window to the exterior can help make a dramatic difference. If your windows are in relatively good condition, then it is often well worth the cost of purchasing storm windows that will help preserve the integrity of your current windows. Not to mention the increase in curb appeal from replacing your battleship grey storm windows with a more appealing window in a custom color. It’s when the window is in bad shape that it’s worth considering replacing the whole window rather than trying to patch the problem with a storm window.

One thing we would suggest is making sure that you purchase new storm windows, as the old battleship grey ones from the ‘50s to ‘70s typically aren’t the most durable or reliable. Some new storm windows even come with low-e tint, which allows you to have some of the benefits of a brand new energy efficient window without breaking the bank and having to get rid of windows that are otherwise in good condition.

photo credit: Along Abbey Street, Howth (II) via photopin (license)