Q - My old leaky windows are driving up my utility bills. I want some attractive yet inexpensive and long-lasting interior storm windows. What is available and can I install them myself to reduce the cost? F. P.
A - Adding good-quality rigid interior storm windows can cut winter heat loss and summer heat gain through your windows by more than 50%. They block heat flow through the glass and air leaks around the old windows. They are attractive, durable, and very easy to put up and take down. You may want to remove them in fall and spring so you can open your windows.You can order some do-it-yourself rigid storm window kits directly from the manufacturers. Some are made to your specific window measurements or you can get a kit and easily cut it yourself. You can size them to mount inside the window opening so they are unnoticeable when they are up.
The majority of the good-quality, attractive interior storm windows are made of clear plastic with tough polymer frames. Clear plastic window material is excellent because it weighs half as much as glass and withstands impact better (safer around children).
Most are available in thicknesses of about one-eighth of an inch and are guaranteed to remain clear for at least ten years. Acrylic stays extremely clear and polycarbonate ("bullet-proof glass") is the toughest.
Clear plastic also blocks most of the sun's ultraviolet rays to reduce fading of your furniture and drapes. Strong vinyl or ABS plastic frames are generally used on interior storms. They come in many colors.
The most common types of fastening methods are magnetic strips and hook and loop. Check the air leakage test specifications before selecting a storm window kit. Although standards allow for a maximum air leakage rate of .5 cubic feet per minute (CFM) per foot of fastener length, the highestefficiency storm windows allow less than .1 CFM.
Magnetic seals use a thin steel strip attached around the window opening or on a spacer recessed inside the opening. A magnetic strip in the storm window frame holds it against the steel. Some hold as tight as seven pounds per foot length. You can paint the steel strip to match your walls.
One super-energy-efficient type of magnetic seal uses flexible accordionshaped material (like a refrigerator door seal) between the frame and the magnet. This allows the seal to conform to uneven, warped, or slanted window frames and walls. It also flexes in and out from impact and temperature changes without breaking the airtight seal.
Continuous hook and loop seals are airtight if properly installed on a flat surface. One strip of the strip attaches to the vinyl storm window frame and the other strip is attached to the window frame or wall.
You can write to me for UTILITY BILLS UPDATE No. 386 listing manufacturers of high-efficiency interior storm window kits, window materials, frame materials, fastening methods, and air leakage rates. Write to James Dulley, The Deseret News, 6906 Royal Green Dr., Cincinnati, Ohio 45244. Please include $1.00 and a self-addressed STAMPED BUSINESS-SIZE envelope.
Q - I am remodeling my bathroom and I am considering installing an infrared heat lamp in the ceiling. Will that cost more to operate than opening the register from the gas heater into the bathroom? H. V.
A - Generally, gas is a less expensive source of heat than electricity. However, with only infrequent use of a bathroom, radiant electric heat is probably more efficient. It provides heat almost instantly and allows you to keep the bathroom cooler than you would normally consider comfortable.