If your home has old windows, you might be torn about whether or not to replace them. Old windows often have the charm and custom design that lend give your older home the character you love so much. On the other hand, old windows are simply not as energy efficient as modern models, and you could be paying extra money each month in utilities if you choose to leave your old windows as they are. So, what is the solution? There are some steps you can take to make your old windows more modern and efficient without actually replacing them entirely and sacrificing character in favor of practicality. 

1. Repair the windows.

Glass is not the only thing that makes windows inefficient. Older seals, casings, frames, and sashes can also contribute to the drafty feeling of old windows. Have a restoration expert come and inspect the wooded casings and frames of the windows. Frames that are weakened by dry rot can be cut out in sections and replaced. Caulking and weatherstripping can help with areas of the window that may have warped or shrunk, allowing heat to escape. 

2. Replace the glass. 

Modern glass is poured more accurately and sits better in the frames. Rippled, thin, or warped glass con contribute to heat loss. Therefore, have the glass components of your windows replaced with new glass, but the leave the frame intact. Glass is more easily custom cut for a window opening; this is one of the only ways to make leaded glass or stained glass components more efficient. New windows (frame and all) are difficult to have sized to the openings of the originals. 

If you do decide you must go new and order custom windows to keep the charm of your home, you will pay much more for the windows, therefore making utility cost savings less likely, as expensive custom, energy efficient windows will take much longer to "pay for themselves."

3. Install storm windows.

Storm windows can help with the energy efficiency problem, and they mean leaving the older windows in place. They cost less than replacing a window. The extra layer of a storm window reduces airflow to through the window to the outside. Even though storm windows themselves are not rated for energy savings, the reduction in air flow equates to fewer heating and cooling costs. If you want to maintain the appearance of your beautiful old windows from the outside, you can install storm windows on the inside, or vice versa. 

Storm windows also help to protect delicate window components from abuse as well-- overall, they extend the life of stained glass, leaded windows, or original glass much further, as they protect from wind, debris, and hail. 

4. Customize and refit the older windows. 

Some windows longer close as tightly as they did when they were first built, especially if the sashes are wooden and several decades old. To help get a proper seal on these older windows, you will have to manipulate the original windows to make them fit better. You can try:

  • planing down warped areas that prevent the who sash from closing fully.
  • installing locks on the sashes to keep windows shut more tightly when they are closed.
  • placing foam weather stripping on the closing edge to make sure that the weight of the window provides a greater seal on the ledge.

There is a lot to be said for repairing older windows. First, history is preserved. Second, older windows are kept out of landfills; the greenest building choice is a house that is already built. Additionally, a proper prepared and restored window will cost less than a custom replacement, and you can have faith in the craftsmanship and quality of the older window, which has already lasted decades. 

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