Despite the blanketing effect of resource-rich window manufacturers to market replacement windows, a growing movement is underfoot. A small yet devoted cadre of craftspeople are making people take notice as they restore old windows, bringing the soul of a building back to life. Slowly communities across the nation are realizing what's been commonplace in the old world, highly valuable architectural elements like a building's windows demand maintenance, and when not maintained, require restoration.
Mozer Works, Inc. is a leader in window restoration for the Washington DC metropolitan area. We offer a free on-site home consultation that will educate and help you choose what's next in the arena of bringing your windows back. Our trained craftsmen can show you how we combine restorative techniques with interlocking metal weatherstripping to recreate the beauty, architectural grandeur, and energy efficiency that your home deserves.
Below, I review why this dictate should be followed when it comes to our "old" window in terms of energy efficiency, environmental responsibility, resource preservation, architectural integrity and supporting the local economy.
Although window sales people will decry your home's energy inefficiency by falsely selecting out your old windows as the culprits, the truth is your old windows with a good storm window make up an assembly as energy efficient as the top-of-the line replacement windows. Window restoration specialists will typically weatherstrip an old window to reduce air infiltration and seal other vulnerable areas of the frame and casing. This prevents draftiness, reduces air infiltration and increases overall performance.
Many people argue the greenest building is the one already built. Restoration is the path of least resistance when we're trying to reduce landfill contributions and cut down fewer trees. Think of the environmental cost of more landfill materials if we fail to question whether we should throw out a home's old windows. Or think about the environmental cost of cutting down trees in order to build new windows. What do you think is the energy cost of manufacturing the higher performance new windows that are clad or wrapped?
As importantly, if you throw out your old wooden windows, you're throwing out old growth wood, one of your home's most enduring features. Today's lumberyards are replete with fast-growth, less durable, plantation-growth wood. They can't compare with the lasting quality, superior stability and decay resistance of the old-growth lumber that was used in your home's windows. That wooden window can flourish another century or more, particularly if it's properly maintained. Modern replacement windows may come with a 15-25 year guarantee, at best.
The windows of your home are the eyes to its soul. A home's character first witnessed is reflected by its windows and doors Window restoration renews a home's arguably most prominent feature; its windows. While window replacements attempt to match what was, they often fall short and thus alter the exact look of a home.
The slow food and organic farming movement has brought attention to the merit of supporting local farming, local production, and the local farm economy. Why can't we do the same in the restoration of our homes by supporting local tradespeople to bring back to life what was? In this way, we can provide value for many more years, if not decades, that is the essence of our neighborhoods, our homes, and our traditions.
Window restoration is never the cheapest route to fixing a drafty window, or getting a functional one, but it is the one with the best return of investment in the long-run. The term of that repayment is not measured in limited warranties but more likely generations and something in which we can all take pride. It adds value to not just your home, but your neighborhood. It supports local craftspeople and it contributes to a more sustainable future.
Below you will find links to several window performance studies accompanied with explanations of the conclusions of the studies.
Testing the Energy Performance of Wood Windows in Cold Climates, a 1996 study done by the State of Vermont. This study investigated the installed costs for a range of window upgrades and their resulting energy savings. Through field testing it was found that replacing an historic window does not necessarily result in greater energy savings than upgrading that same window. Both air sealing between the window frame and the wall and the use of a storm window were found to be effective at reducing energy costs.
The Effects of Energy Efficiency Treatments on Historic Windows, published in January, 2011 by The Center for Resource Conservation in Boulder Colorado. This study of window treatments provides great data on the energy performance of old wood windows. It focuses on empirical testing of the energy efficiency and economy of a range of options for upgrading the energy performance of historic windows. The study involved retrofitting windows in a test home in a historic district in Boulder, Colorado as well as testing in a laboratory facility developed for the study. Summary tables cover the eleven different preservation treatment options that were investigated and then compared to a new vinyl window. Most of the proposed treatments were able to outperform a new vinyl window. The study has lots of technical information and the results from both field and lab testing. While there is not a great deal of detail about the cost of the various options, there is enough cost information to provide relative payback savings.
Measured Winter Performance of Storm Windows, a 2002 study done by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. In tests under actual winter weather conditions, north-facing prime/storm window combinations were compared to a selective low-E replacement window. It was found that the addition of low-E storm windows to the prime window provided performance very similar to that of the replacement window, and expected differences in performance were only detectable through a long-term averaging. Additionally infiltration did not significantly degrade the expected performance.
Field Evaluation of Low-E Storm Windows, Chicago, 2007. Field monitoring of six homes in Chicago indicated that there is consistent benefit to using storm windows. Clear glass storm windows reduced the heating load by 13% with a 10-year simple payback. Low-e storm windows also showed an additional improvement on top of the clear glass benefits, amounting to 21% heating savings and an average payback of less than five years. One of the ancillary benefits of installing storm windows is reduced air infiltration.
A Comparative Study of the Cumulative Energy Use of Historical Versus Contemporary Windows. Life cycle costs were calculated and compared for a typical wood double-hung window with an added Low-E storm window and a new vinyl replacement window. Using modeling and adapting previous field studies to a Boston location, it was determined that the thermal performances of the two window systems are similar; and taking all costs into account, the historical window with a storm has a much lower life-cycle cost throughout a 100-year period. It does not seem that the sources used for air leakage numbers take into account the infiltration that occurs between the window unit and the wall assembly.