Thanks to new window technology, storm windows are pretty much antiques nowadays.
The original purpose for a storm window was to protect a home’s primary windows from the weather. Some of you might remember those old windows with the small panes of glass, and some of you still have them. You know, the ones with individual 4-inch x 3-inch pieces of glass with wood frames…
Eons ago they didn’t have the technology to make glass too much larger than those little panes. Unfortunately, the elements—rain, wind, sun and snow—anything and everything beating down on the putty around the glass panes and their wooden frames would cause it to dry out, crack, then fall out, letting water and air seep in. It’s high maintenance.
When they came up with a process to make glass in larger sheets they also came up with the concept of a storm window. By creating a glass “shield” in an aluminum frame, the primary window could be protected from the elements so that people didn’t have to re-putty and repaint those little frames every year. And it did the job.
Storm windows don’t provide much additional benefit when it comes to energy efficiency or home comfort, but they did reduce maintenance.
When you fast-forward a few decades and the energy crisis is making daily headlines, and home construction is booming, window manufacturers like Andersen windows, had to reinvent the window. The storm window concept was first repackaged as a double pane window. So that second pane of glass added a layer of insulation to the windows. To a degree! Technically, you could say that you increased the energy efficiency of your windows by 100% because you added another pane of glass. But scientifically speaking, it wasn’t providing much insulation. In reality it just made the window more compact and easier to maintain, which was desirable for homeowners and homebuilders.
We know better these days. With the fantastic window science available today, a glass package with gas between the glass panes and spacer technology, is four times more thermal efficient than a single pane of glass with that old storm window over top. Plus, there’s absolutely no need to protect your primary windows with storm windows because there are no little panes of glass, or cracking putty, around the frame.
In fact, I would advise you not to add storm windows to today’s energy-efficient windows because it will create way too much heat buildup between the storm window and the primary window. You put a storm window over top of a high quality, energy-efficient, maintenance-free window, and that heat is going to build up inside there in the summer and it’s just going to deteriorate the seals, frames and everything else. So really, in this day and age, installing storm windows can do more harm than good.
In the window category, it’s safe to say that storm windows are obsolete. You could even go as far as calling them antiques!