Window Replacement

If your historic home has the original wooden single pane, single hung windows, you have a decision to make.  Do you keep the these sometimes drafty and inefficient windows and retain some of the original charm and character that attracted you to the home in the first place?  Or do you replace the windows. sacrificing another historic detail for modern efficiency and convenience?  There is no right or wrong answer except what is right for you, but you at least should make an informed decision.  It is true that a single pane window is somewhat less efficient than a double pane window.  And old single hung windows in historic homes are even more inefficient because of the hollow areas without insulation they have on the sides where the rope and counterweights are located.  If you replace these old windows and the new windows are installed correctly, you will save some money on heating and cooling costs.  But is this really cost effective?  Against the modest savings that you will reap with your heating and cooling bills, you need to offset the cost of the new windows and their installation which is substantial especially if you choose a high end window that matches your historic home's character.  And you should factor in the cost of replacement glass over the lifetime of your new windows.  Double pane windows can start to loose their seal and begin to look unsightly every ten to fifteen years or earlier if you have a defective window unit.  If you need to buy new glass that often, you're not really buying new windows so much as you're renting them.  When those costs are factored in it becomes less clear if there are any significant cost savings to be found in window replacement.  Even if you weigh energy savings and environmental impact higher than individual economics, it is unclear if there is any substantial benefit from replacing windows.  After all it costs energy to make, deliver, and install those new windows; and there is certainly a cost and environmental impact to dispose of the old windows.  So when does it make sense to replace your windows?  It they are in generally poor condition and in poor working order, it may be time to replace them.  Or if you are trying to take an older home and you are trying to do a complete remodel and rehabilitation that will essentially make an older home into a "new" home.  Or if it just makes you happy.  There is a cost benefit to happiness as well.

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