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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
And Was It Cost Effective?

We have an old farm house with what seem to be the original windows (wavy glass), or at least very old windows.

They are not the worst on the scale of how bad windows can be, and I caulked/sealed them this Fall. I wanted to put up plastic, but the layout of sills, curtains, and hardware made it impossible. Our furnace is running quite often right now (highs in the teens, lows near zero F.)

I had heard that a govt. program that used to reimburse people for weatherizing older buildings took windows off their list because it turned out newer windows really didn't provide that much of a savings after all.

If we had all the money in the world, I'd have insulation blown in the walls, new windows, and siding put on the house. :shrug: But I don't.

So - just wanting to hear from those of you in the same situation and whether you found it worth the expense? I suppose the answers hinge a bit on the cost of fuel, of course. We heat with LP.

TIA
 

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East Central MN
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More Insulation is more cost effective than windows. If the house is drafty or poorly insulated you're better off addressing that before windows. But, you really need to put plastic up. We've had most of the windows replaced in our house, but ours were very bad, you couldn't even open most of them. Some of them I hired someone to do other's I've done myself. If you're handy, do it yourself, MUCH cheaper. The old windows in our house I always did/do put plastic up, makes a HUGE difference. I don't do it on the new windows, haven't found that I needed it with the double pane argon gas windows.

I'm in Central MN.
 

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Happy Scrounger
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The windows on our 1895 victorian were single glazed, many original or at best from the 40s. The very first thing we did was to replace all the windows.(second thing was reinsulate the attic...brrrrrr!) In doing so, we solved any leaking around windows as well as double glazing. There was a significant decrease in heat bills. (and in cooling during the summer). We felt it was worth the price.

We were able to install them ourselves, saving a lot of money. It's not difficult to to. Remove the stop. Remove the old window (lots of chipping of old caulk, nails, etc.). Put new window in place, shim it to make it level, caulk it in, put in new stops.

Fortunately for us, most of the framing was still good. If that has to be replaced, it's not too bad...you just need to frame in with 2x4s usually.

If you end up NOT replacing, there are a lot of plastic sealers out there. You can put an outdoor type on the outside (like a storm window) AND an inside one. Make sure you seal all the drafts by taking a lit candle and going slowly along the edges to see if the flame flickers in a slight breeze.

If you can borrow or purchase a digital spot thermometer, you can measure areas where it's cold or warm on your walls. Areas of interest (drafty) are usually around windows, and outlets.
 

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I have found that replacement windows save me tons of money. I've replaced windows on 3 different homes here in Wisconsin. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I bought another house. Replacement windows are easy and inexpensive. On average, I pay about $200.00 per window. I highly recommend it. You'll be glad you did even if you can only do one or two at a time.
 

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Icelandic Sheep
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I second the recommendation for more insulation first. New windows take something like 40 years to pay for themselves in savings. If you eventually decide to replace your windows (please don't!) remove them carefully preserving the wavy glass. They're worth big money to people restoring their old houses. Reproduction wavy glass panes run about $80 each.

You need to hang curtains in those windows :) I use tension style curtain rods and hang windows inside the frame to just grazing the window sills. You wouldn't believe how much this helps. Keep the windows covered at night and only uncover one of the windows in the room you're in. Unless it's a sunny day, then uncover all the windows on the sunny side of the house to suck up all that heat. Consider storm windows. Studies have shown that old windows paired with storm windows are nearly as efficient as new windows. No kidding.

:coffee: RedTartan
 

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My kids have hooves
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New windows take something like 40 years to pay for themselves in savings....Consider storm windows. Studies have shown that old windows paired with storm windows are nearly as efficient as new windows. No kidding.
I wouldn't consider replacing our 165 year old windows. In fact, we had them all restored a few years ago and they're gorgeous. The sun sparkling on the wavy glass is so pretty. In fact, when DH and I were looking for an old house, we passed up all the ones that had replacement windows.:nono: Once that original fabric of your house is gone, it's gone. Permanently.

RedTartan's right. A good storm window over your antique windows are surprisingly close efficiency-wise to a new window. Most of the heat loss from a window is from around the frame, regardless of the age of the window.

Here's some reading and food for thought:

http://www.presnc.org/index.php/Features/Historic-Windows-Energy-Efficiency.html

http://www.restoreomaha.com/resources/WindowEnergyAnalysis.pdf

http://www.illinoishistory.gov/ps/images/replacement_windows.pdf

Finally, the old-growth wood that your current windows are made of is extremely tough. They'll outlast modern plastic windows without question. (I'd like to see Pella or Anderson offer a 200 year warranty :p) Replacement windows have their uses, but they're not the answer the window industry wants you to think. Additional attic insulation would be a much better investment.

Edited to add: If you do choose to pull out your historic windows, please think about saving not only the glass, but the sashes (leave the glass in them). When/if you ever sell your property, the new owners may appreciate that thought and it will make your house more marketable to have the option of putting them back in.:)
 

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i dont like replacement windows, when we did our old house over we striped the outside down we had no insulation what so ever we put r30 in the ceiling and floors r19 in the walls new construction windows and insulated doors new shething tyvek and wood siding our house is toasty and we are the last to put the heat on it was worth the money and trouble
 

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We have old windows too. They slide up and down on ropes, are almost floor to ceiling, and have the original hardware. We have to get plastic put up too, but a couple of them are so drafty that they move the blinds. I can't imagine how much heat we are loosing out of them. The plastic should fix most of that though, and we are also planning on installing storm windows at some point down the line.

I personally don't want to replace our windows. Our house has TONS of character, including the original front door, original door knobs on most of the interior doors (similar to these ones), plinth blocks, transoms...just lots of cool stuff. Unfortunately, we don't plan on living here forever. At some point we are probably going to move, and when we do most buyers will see original windows as a negative, not a positive. The other sticking point with replacing these windows is their dimensions. Just in looking briefly for replacement windows, we would have to special order windows to fit the current opening, or we would have to open up the wall, build in a smaller opening, and then put in a window. The second option would look funny from the outside, it just wouldn't fit the dimensions of the house.

Of course, we also have about ten other major projects that will need to be done before that, including replacing the roof, replumbing half of the house, replacing the footer on one end of the front porch, and disconnecting the old knob and tube wiring in the attic (that apparently has no source, but is still live). I do love our old house though! I picked up "The Old House Journal Compendium" for 50¢ from a library book sale, and have really enjoyed reading through it.

Kayleigh
 

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We did replace the windows in our 180 year old house. They weren't original, but they were single paned and very drafty. I did a lot of research and found a great company (Canadian - Cayman Windows) that produces a double paned Low E, argon filled window with a very good R rating. That being said, the best windows in the world won't save you money or heat loss if they're not installed properly. Make sure who ever does it understands to properly insulate around the windows and seal them in properly. One of the reasons we went with the company we did was they were the only ones who guaranteed both the windows and installation for life, transferrable.
 

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i have old windows at this house 1909 and they previos house 1873 our old house had been completely redone and insulated well in the late 80's we replaced the 7 windows upstairs and the one on the stairs it had been a single pain no storm the otheres upstairs were standard double hung in pour shape with storms

we noticed a definite diferance in the comfort of the house after replacing them

but i would say as far as effectiveness per dollar insulation pays back faster , it only seems like a huge difference when you are talkin windows that are in poor shape without storms and plastic inside

althought the type with ropes have weights in the wall there is a hollow cavity in the wall for them , they are worse for leaking and when you replace them it is important to remove the trim and fill that cavity with insulation.

if i only had the money to build a new house with r50 in the walls and r75 in the attic
with a full wraping of tyvec new windows , doors with a huge mud room entry way in the back and 3 season porch in the front i couls avoid having a heat bill all together and would probably feed the wood stove a lot less than i do now.

i am also in south central wisconsin
 

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Our house is one of those early 70s FHA built homes and it had the wooden cased windows that leaked air like crazy. So a few years back, DH started buying a window or two from Lowes every year and we finally replaced all the windows except for the big picture window in the front. The cost wasn't so bad cause we did it a few at a time and we did install these ourselves. And believe me, if we can do it, anyone can do it.

If you have the old wavy pattern glass ones, don't throw them away if you decide to put in new windows. There are building salvage sites everywhere that will pay you money for these and sometimes even come to your site and do the removal.

Just do a google on building salvage for your local area to find the listings.
 

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Failure is not an option.
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Hey.

Install storm windows outside existing windows. Contact window installers and you can pick up some good used ones cheap. They usually squirrel away used stuff they remove in the event of installing double hungs on older homes.

RF
 

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I had seven old windows replaced in September, but will know how cost effective they might be at the end of the heating season. I also had two doors replaced. This is an old farmhouse, and was very drafty. The absence of a draft is noticeable. My heating fuel is oil, and a fill earlier this week was for 194 gallons. (The last fill before that was in the spring.) The boiler heats my water too, so it runs during the summer. This fall seems colder than the previous three, but I've kept track of my oil consumption the past several years, so should have an idea if the new windows and doors helped in late spring.
 

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We have replaced windows in our house, 20 years ago with double payne and now are in the process of replacing them again all have so much moisture between the panes you can not see out. Yes they are guarnteed and so far seems they will replace the windows but the instulation is our problem. The instulation is more than the cost of the windows. I have not got it offically from the manufacturer but so far I have to pay one of their installers to get the new windows still talking about that. If I had good wood single windows I would put up storm windows, thats what I should have done 20 years ago. When I had the windows and storm windows replaced I still used the same amount of propane there was no noticable savings.
 

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We have original windows plus old storms on our 150 year old house. When we first moved in we had a campaign of sealing up drafts whenever the wind shifted to show us the bad areas. That meant leaks around the windows as well as baseboards, wainscotting etc. Our heating bill was half the previous owner's.

It is surprising how much draft comes in outside window frames. I suspect that is where a lot of the replacement window savings comes in, because new windows usually come with draft proofing aroud the outside of the window. You can take off the casings and seal, or you can just seal around the outside of the casings with caulk. There is a lot of differentweatherstripping for windows. Get the type that suits yours best. Also, learn to caulk the window glazing. Modern caulk is much preferable to that of even 15 years ago.

I am really against replacing if you don't have to. Often you wind up with windows that just don't look quite right on an old house, and you send a lot of material to the dumpster that didn't need to go there.
 

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get an energy audit! http://www.focusonenergy.com/Information-Center/FAQs/Residential-FAQs/Home-Improvement.aspx

we have an old and very cold house, also in wisconsin, and had an audit done last year. Learned that we have balloon wall construction (sucks all the warm air up into the attic) and that every place where an addition was done in the past was open in the attic and also sucking air upstairs. Learned exactly what we need to do - which was very different than the casual advice on how to weather proof your home that we received. The audit program offers cash rebates for doing recommended work.

I've heard that wisconsin is offering tax rebates for materials used to improve your energy usage starting january 1. The combination of the two could be incredible.

If you do not see your utility listed on the audit list don't give up - ours was not listed but turned out to be participating. CALL THEM and talk to someone in person.

gl!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wow, thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences! :typomat:

I think after reading all the above, I will do as much as possible to save the windows we have. They really do have gorgeous old woodwork on the inside. Most do have newer (aluminum) storm windows on the outside, so that helps, and they are not toodrafty. I will do more caulking on the inside of the sills, and thanks cathleen for the advice about the energy audit - will do! The rebates sound great. Sounds like we should take the money from buying new windows and put it toward blown in insulation instead.

We did buy a new furnace this Fall, and even the company rep. told us that newer windows are often not a good utilization of dollars, his words were something to the effect of the windows having settled with the house, and they are probably pretty tight. Maybe he was talking about casements, etc.
 

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Wow, thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences! :typomat:

I think after reading all the above, I will do as much as possible to save the windows we have. They really do have gorgeous old woodwork on the inside. Most do have newer (aluminum) storm windows on the outside, so that helps, and they are not toodrafty. I will do more caulking on the inside of the sills, and thanks cathleen for the advice about the energy audit - will do! The rebates sound great. Sounds like we should take the money from buying new windows and put it toward blown in insulation instead.

We did buy a new furnace this Fall, and even the company rep. told us that newer windows are often not a good utilization of dollars, his words were something to the effect of the windows having settled with the house, and they are probably pretty tight. Maybe he was talking about casements, etc.
Even with new vinyl replacement windows your interior trim will be left intact.Only the sashes themselves will be removed. And many window manufacturers offer several woodgrain interior options.
I am not a storm window fan. I will say that right up front. Storm windows were designed to give the home a screen and another pane of glass to protect the main windows from a "storm " that might damage the main glass.
Granted new windows can be expensive. anywhere from 350-1200, depending on options and styles.
If you do decide to replace a few windows or all. go to this website.
http://nfrc.org/
It gives you the low down on all the main manufacturers and their exact product line offering.
IMHO once you have felt the difference in a high quality glass package in a good window you will never want old single pane windows again. The majority of my windows in my home are triple pane with krypton gas. I have only 4 windows left that are not triple pane.. They are double pane with lo e and argon fill.And they are colder in the winter by at least 10 degrees per my laser thermometer.And they feel much colder just sitting in front of them too.
 

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I love South Dakota
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We replaced all our old windows in our old house. They weren't original however, just old and very leaky. Don't know just how much of a difference it made though, as we also took down the sheetrock/lath and plaster and reinsulated the exterior walls. Where possible, we shimmed the wall out to make it 5.5" instead of 3.5". Also added housewrap on the outside and taped and sealed everything up. House stays warm now with very little heating.

Before we replaced the windows, we shrinkwrapped them all for the winter. That made a world of difference in keeping down the drafts. We had some very leaky windows.

If I had an old house with historic windows, I'd do what ever it took to keep the windows and tighten things up.

Cathy
 

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I made my own wooden storm windows and summer time screens for my old house windows. Both are quite effective and look much better than replacement windows or aluminum storm window sets.
 
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