Approximately 6 years ago, we built the "house from hell." While I could entertain you for hours with humerous stories from our construction experience, one problem that, with high energy costs, has become especially onerous is the leaky Simonton/Owens-Corning windows. In the winter, we often get 40-50 mph winds in our area, and the windward side of the house has many windows. On a gusty day, you can actually feel the air move across the room! You can also hear the air whistling through the window, and it's a very disconcerting sound when you're trying to sleep on a cold winter's night. We have noticed that, on days when it is as cold as 10 degrees (F), that the furnace runs about twice as much when it is windy as when it is not!
Anyway, the problem can be isolated by taping toilet paper to the window to isolate the leak. While the vinyl is a good conductor of heat to the outside, the problem stems from the humongous grooved channel on the side of the window where the window's supports slide up and down when the window is opened. If this is unclear, try this. Put your hand on a window's latch and slide your hand over to the side until it hits the wall or window casing. The groove, in our case, about 1/2 inch square runs down the window. Air blows up the channel and into the room.
A Simonton representative came out and installed "kits" (apparently this is not an isolated problem!), which are little styrofoam cubes that screw into the side of the window frame to take up some of the empty space. Alas, they don't work. Cotton balls stuffed into the channel also don't work.
I know the problem could easily be solved with a caulk gun and an hour's worth of work, but it would make the windows fixed, and we wouldn't be able to open them. Storm windows would also work, but my parents have resisted the idea.
I'm looking for (in)genius solutions--besides caulk, replacing the windows outright, and cotton balls. I'm not looking for "should have" answers, as I already know that we should have paid for better windows at the time the house was built, or put in casement windows that actually have good all-around seals.
Anybody have any good ideas? Thank you so much in advance for your help!