Don’t know if it’s getting old that I post about replacement windows but it has become epidemic.
Serving on the “Landmarks Commission” in my commmunity we’ve seen a doubling of COA’s (certificate of appropriateness) this last year over the year prior for taking out repairable windows for “replacement” windows.
By the time a homeowner has made the decision to replace their windows, submitted their COA and come to the commission their minds are already set and they’ve resigned themselves that they’re going to be spending all that money to replace their windows. After all, the window manufacturers, retailers and installers have all made very compelling arguments for why they should do so. And to boot there are “home energy” subsidy/incentives.
It’s “Green” and saves energy so I’ll save money in the long run on heating expense right? It’ll increase my homes value, right? I’ll bite the bullet and spend the money. It must be the right thing to do. Right?
Well without the benefit of knowing that there are lower-cost alternatives and what the down side is for taking out their repairable, “green-er” and potentially equally efficient windows (combined with sound storm windows) they’re making the best decision they can. And therein lies the challenge. There is very little counterbalance to the prevailing marketing message that replacement windows are the best choice. Consumers simply don’t know what the down-side is, what there options are or how to decide.
- There is a new website, savethewindow.org recently launched by the National Trust for Historic Preservation that attempts to set the record straight on what the hidden costs are of “replacement windows”. They do a great job of telling the story. They had a video. It seems to have gone missing. Here though are others.
- This is the single most compelling outline for how to decide… Should I, or should I not replace my windows. “Repair or Replace Old Windows – A visual look at the Impacts” (It’s a PDF download)
I would though like to add a couple points and observations of my own though. Note, I’ve completely ripped off the pics from the NT’s document “Repair or Replace Old Windows” above to illustrate my own points. So photo credits to them.
- It’s going to impact my homes resale value.
If you have a distinctive, well maintained older home you’re not going to out-new the new construction on the edges of town. I propose that you’re better off playing to the strength of your home and that is the period charm and character of your old house… and that includes your windows. Chances are a new buyer, if they’re interested in “Old Houses” likely have an appreciation for the character original windows add. Clunky, replacement windows can actually diminish the character of your distinctive old house and, I propose, impact your homes marketability.
(Side note: I call these “Little Orphan Annie” houses. It’s easy to find bad examples in clearly distressed neighborhoods. These owners have few options. Homes as this though where they clearly have money to spend… why would they denude a home like this. Ask yourself. A potential home buyer, if they were interested in a distinctive old houses in the first place, would they choose this or another where that same money (or less) was put into repairing what makes homes like these distinctive. If the potential buyer wants “new & generic” there are better new & generic without the bother of old house home ownership.)
- I’m increasing the resale value of my home right?
Often times not. You’ll find that you can’t afford to replace distinctive, high quality windows with anything like what was there originally. It’s just too @%#$ expensive to try and replicate with new windows.
As a result what happens is they swap in down-graded approximations. Add one more nail to the coffin of what had once been a distinctive old house with charm to one that has been denuded and reduced to remudeled ordinaryness.
Old house enthusiasts who can already discern and appreciation the aesthetic of original period windows are likely not interested in rip-n-replace in the first place. It’s more likely that those who don’t see or value the aesthetic of original windows that are quickest to pull them out. These folks are likely better persuaded by the pragmatic economics of replacements.
Actually this is the easier point to make. There is a growing number of independent, 3rd party evaluations on the actual energy savings and cost savings of repaired original windows with a storm over replacement windows. Many of these studies are coming from the utility companies themselves who are debunking the replacement window cost savings smoke-n-mirrors. I’ve blogged on this elsewhere but these citations have expanded since this post.
Saving Windows: Saving Money
Evaluating the energy performance of window replacement and retrofit
Our other posts on home energy and replacement windows
Compiled by Jonathan Beers
Madison Gas & Electric
- Myth 1: Leave the thermostat at one temperature. It costs as much or more to catch up if you turn the heat down when sleeping or gone.
- Myth 2: Keeping fluorescent lights or computers on is cheaper than turning them off. There’s a big surge when you turn them on.
- Myth 3: Replacing windows reduces heating bills a lot, and is cost-effective.
- Myth 4: Caulking and weather stripping saves a lot of energy.
- Myth 5: Using an electric space heater saves money.
This was part of a broader presentation at the recent Madison Area Builder’s Association Home Products Show where he stated. (reported in the Wisconsin State Journal)
“Replacing windows is way down on the list of cost-effective measures if your goal is to reduce your energy bill,” said Jonathan Beers, residential services manager with Madison Gas and Electric. “There are good reasons to replace windows, but you should beware of phrases that promise energy savings that can be up to a certain percent.”
“…keep in mind that replacing windows is expensive, costing upward of $10,000 for a 20-window replacement, and it probably won’t save you all that much in energy costs. Beers noted that installing those 20 windows that qualify under the Energy Star rating system saves between $40 and $160 in a heating season.”
Sloppy math puts the break-even on this investment over six decades away. Longer than the manufacturers warranty times 3 at minimum.
Stated another way, the windows will likely need to be replaced again before they’ve paid for themselves.
How Not to Save Energy
Mythbusters: Home Energy-Efficiency Measures That Don’t Save Much Energy
Article by Michael Blasnik in Green Building Advisor
Window replacement. I find this statistic very interesting because I have been a proponent of historic window preservation for years. Replacing windows can save 2 to 3 therms ($2 to $3) per year per window, resulting in a payback period of over 100 years. Like all of these caveats, the existing conditions of homes should be scrutinized. Jalousie windows or superleaky units without storms could see better savings, but adding storm windows is more cost effective with higher savings potential. In the case of cooling, it’s more cost effective to try shading windows with landscaping, solar screens, or window film.
Both these gentleman are experts within the field of what actually constitutes home energy efficiencies without a profit motive to sell you stuff.
If improving energy efficiency and making home improvements that truly most impact heating expense it is recommended that home owners try a home energy audit. It will uncover where the real energy/heat losses are. You might be surprised.
- Blower-Door Home Energy Audits
- Home weatherization products that address the real energy loss issues
Saving Windows: Saving Money
Evaluating the energy performance of window replacement and retrofit
Keep in mind replacement windows are the best option, principally because they’re the ONLY option for…
- Original, Non-repairable, post-war (that’s WWII) build homes
- The likewise non-repairable replacement windows a previous homeowner may have swapped out for previously repairable windows.
Interesting blog post from a home energy consultancy in Kalamazoo MI on Energy Star ratings as it applies to both new construction and existing homes/preservation.
- Date: April 30, May 1, 2 2010
- Time: 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
- Presented by: Bob Yapp
- Location: The Belvedere School for Hands-On Preservation, Hannibal MO
- Cost: $300
While available elsewhere across the country and regionally we don’t currently have any preservation trades education available here in WI… that I’m aware of. Bob Yapp, publisher, radio show host, consultant and founder/director of the Belvedere School is a recognized authority in historic preservation and related trades. The Belvedere school offers a range of hands-on trades education. It’s located less than six hours away and is incredibly reasonably priced at ONLY $300… for three full days of training. I think that’s incredible.
From Bob’s course description:
Window Restoration College is a fun and intense, three-day, hands-on learning experience. Students will learn cost-effective & energy efficient restoration of original, double-hung, wood windows. You will be part of a team restoring the original 150-year old windows in the historic Lamb-Munger Mansion in the Central Park National Historic District in Hannibal, Missouri.
This is a tuition-based class with a limit of 12 students. You will be working side- by-side all three days with instructor Bob Yapp. Bob is nationally recognized as one of the top experts in window restoration and has restored over 5,000 windows in his 35-year career.
This will be an intense, learn-by-doing opportunity. You will learn sash removal, safe paint & glass removal, epoxy wood repair, glazing putty application, weather stripping, re-roping & sash installation. At the end of the three days you will know from beginning to end, how to completely and cost effectively restore a double-hung window & receive a “Certificate of Completion”.
Homeowners, small contractors, preservation staff, preservation commission members, hp students and historic building owners will all benefit from this hands-on, traditional training event. All skill levels are encouraged to sign up.
Tuition for this three-day workshop is $300 and includes beverages and lunch. Space is limited to twelve students in each session and pre-registration is required Classes fill up quickly so be sure to get your tuition & registration in as soon as possible.
Inexpensive motels as well as bed & breakfast inns are available for out of town students. For more information or to pre-register call Bob Yapp, 217-474-6052 or email him, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.bobyapp.com
I stumbled upon this article written by a Historic Preservation Consultant doing business down in Florida and found it interesting. Given the fact that so much irreversible replacement of original windows has taken place, what is a current homeowner to do to try and mediate what a prior owner had done with the homes windows?
I think it reflects the interests of a growing minority of the home buying market who seek out and choose distinctive old and historic homes and neighborhoods in which to live. They love the old house but what did they do with the windows? Frustrated over what a prior owner did with lowest possible cost rip-n-replace remodeling (or flipping) they’re looking for options.
An interesting read and a cleaver suggestion.
How to Camouflage Inappropriate Replacement Windows on Your Historic Home
By Jo-Anne Peck
A recent forum post on an old house restoration and renovation website asked what they could do to hide the bright white vinyl replacement windows that the previous owners had installed. They didn’t have the money to replace the windows, and the windows were still working fine, but were glaringly inappropriate for their historic home. For situations like this, an affordable solution is to install traditional wood window screens over the windows.
Wood window screens can be built by homeowners with some woodworking skills or hired out for a reasonable cost from a local carpenter. They are historically appropriate on most home styles since they were commonly added even to the earliest homes by later homeowners. The best woods for screen longevity are cedar, cypress, or mahogany, although other woods can be used if primed and painted thoroughly. Paintable water repellent preservatives applied before priming are also useful for extending the life of the newly built screens. Screen frames are typically 1-1/2″ to 2″ wide and corners can be joined by screws, L-brackets, pegs or historically appropriate bridle joints for more accomplished woodworkers. Screening is applied after painting by stapling to the frame, then the edges are covered by screen molding, which is a narrow rounded trim piece.
When trying to hide inappropriate non-historic windows, full height screens are recommended set flush with the exterior casing or within the brickmold trim. Using charcoal or other dark color screening helps mute the bright white of the vinyl windows behind the screen. Painting the screens a contrasting accent color also draws attention away from the windows behind and adds an attractive element to your home. Forest green, black, deep brown and burgundy were common screen accent colors. Install the screens with stainless face-mounted hangers and your replacement windows will no longer detract from the historic appearance of your home.
Ms. Peck is a Historic Preservation Consultant with over 12 years experience working with historic Florida homes. She is President of Preservation Resource, Inc., a preservation design-consulting company which offers a specialized line of traditional products for historic homes at http://www.HistoricShed.com including traditional wood window screens.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jo-Anne_Peck
How could I do this?
There are those that are happy to build wood screens and storms for you like the company above. It’s also a service some enterprising local woodworker/contractor could learn and make available to a regional market.
Did you know that perhaps the single most comprehensive and respected educational center for Historic Preservation in the entire mid-west is just under two hours away from Beloit? It’s the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation in Mount Carroll IL. Among the broader offerings a couple of the classes I’ve always been curious about…