What Is a “Storm Window,” Anyway?

published Jul 21, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Hand of a worker replacing the old wooden window
Credit: ungvar / Shutterstock

If you live in an older home with single-pane windows, you may be considering replacing them altogether for better insulation. But replacing windows can be expensive, with an average cost ranging between $300 and $800 for a single window, according to Forbes. Another option could instead be adding storm windows, which you can install and remove every season. Storm windows are a cost-effective solution that help save energy and reduce your monthly heating bill in the winter. 

What is a storm window?

Storm windows are basically inserts that are added to existing windows, either on the outside or inside, to help with energy-saving insulation and to improve soundproofing. They can be temporary — installed as temperatures start to drop in the fall, and removed when temperatures rise in the spring — or they can be permanent and continue to provide energy-saving impacts during warmer months while you have cooling units running. 

According to Energy Conservation for Housing, storm windows can save up to 10 percent on heating costs. Although this particular book was published in 1998, the EPA still has similar cost-saving estimates today, adding that buyers of storm windows “can expect to pay back the incremental cost of the ENERGY-STAR certified storm window in about three years.” 

Energy Conservation for Housing also says the following:

Storm windows save energy in two ways. First, they reduce air leakage through spaces around the window. Second, they reduce heat conduction through the window by creating an insulating air space between them and the primary window. Beyond saving energy, storm windows enhance the comfort of residents, lower maintenance costs on existing windows, and reduce the amount of outside noise and pollutants that enter the dwelling unit. 

Credit: ungvar / Shutterstock

What is the difference between storm windows and regular windows?

Regular windows are typically made up of glass — often with single, double, or triple panes. Multiple-pane windows may have gas in between the pieces of glass for additional insulation.

Window frames can be made up of a variety of materials, including wood, metal, or fiberglass, plus weather stripping on newer and higher-quality windows. If you live in an older house, the windows might not include weather stripping, and may only be single-pane, leading to poorer insulation throughout the home. Regular windows are typically permanent fixtures of a home, only being replaced when needed. 

Storm windows, on the other hand, can be installed and removed with relative ease each year. They are not replacements for existing windows, but rather additions to enhance the insulation of your current window. Modern storm windows are often made of enamel-coated aluminum frames and glass panes. 

Are storm windows cheaper than regular windows?

If you live in a home with windows that could use some energy-saving improvement, storm windows can be a more cost-effective option than replacing them altogether. Replacing a window can easily run between $300 and $800, sometimes reaching costs as high as $1,500. Storm windows run on average between $110 and $325, depending on the size of the window, according to Angi

However, if you’re building a brand-new home, you may find it easier to go with energy-efficient windows right off the bat. High-quality and energy-efficient windows can add to the resale value of your home for the future. 

What are the pros and cons of storm windows?

Storm windows are cost-effective solutions to saving energy and money on heating and cooling bills. If you live in an old home, storm windows may be easier and less invasive to your daily life than replacing windows altogether, and they can help homebuyers preserve the historic integrity of period details from the era that the home was originally built in.

Replacing windows is a great option for those looking to increase the resale value of their home, or who don’t want to be bothered having to install and remove storm window inserts every year.