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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    1

    Default historical preservation vs. staying warm

    I have a 1715 Cape with old windows. The windows have been dated to the early 1800's. Still have old glass in them. Considering the cost of fuel oil nowadays, I want to tighten up the house. I'm curious about the thermal efficiency of putting new windows in (12 over 12) vs. reglazing the old windows and installing new storms (invisible). Also should say that I would like to put new siding on the front. Presently, there is the original Oak/chestnut sheathing with the original shakes and a layer of cedar shingles over the shakes. I do not believe there is any insulation in the wall as the interior plaster appears to be applied directly to the inside of the exterior sheathing. Any insulating ideas for the wall would also be appreciated.

  2. #2

    Default Re: historical preservation vs. staying warm

    Repair and maintain your old windows. The efficiency of well maintained old windows with wood storms is as good as any new window. The added benefit is that you or anyone can maintain them. The real problem is air infiltration not radiant loss. Tune your windows up with brass weather stripping, re-glaze them to keep the air movement at a minimum. That is where the real savings will be. Once you replace your window you have charted a path that means when these windows need fixing and they will they will have to be replaced. This is the same for you and any new owner that purchases your house. Permanent replacement windows means you have to keep replacing them permanently.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    8

    Default Re: historical preservation vs. staying warm

    Agree with the previous poster about the efficency of the windows. And even if the windows do cause some heat loss, un-insulated walls will cause your house to feel colder than what it is and will increase your heating costs tremendously. Think how efficient and comfortable radiant floor heat is, then reverse that. You have huge radiant wall cooling! I live in northern New England in an 88 year old home, which just like yours, lacked insulation in walls. Adding insulation to the 2x4 stick construction has made a huge HUGE difference. Even though the cost of oil and gas has went up each year that I've owned the house (4), my total gas usage has dropped enough that I've actually paid less each year. And like you, I have double hung windows with storms.

    So, good luck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,557

    Default Re: historical preservation vs. staying warm

    I agree with PlasterMaestro, the biggest savings people see with new windows is because they have new and tight weather striping not because of the double or triple pane glass.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: historical preservation vs. staying warm

    I'm sorry, but a perfect single pane window is a horrible energy waster even without air leakage. A regular house with tight windows loses half its heat through the windows. half of the rest is through the roof[that is wh we call for r50 in the roof] The walls are just not that big a deal.

    Simply tightening them up windows is not enough.

    I always figured if I lived in a historic district I would have insulated storms that install from the inside, one large pane that would visually disappear and could be removed in the summer when you wanted to open the window. The advantage would also be that they would not fog as much, with the leaky window being the outer ones.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: historical preservation vs. staying warm

    have you looked at double pane glass into your wood windows. along with glass, refitting, weatherstripping, and weight pocket insulation bi-glass would work for you. bi-glass.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: historical preservation vs. staying warm

    Quote Originally Posted by PlasterMaestro View Post
    Repair and maintain your old windows. The efficiency of well maintained old windows with wood storms is as good as any new window. The added benefit is that you or anyone can maintain them. The real problem is air infiltration not radiant loss. Tune your windows up with brass weather stripping, re-glaze them to keep the air movement at a minimum. That is where the real savings will be. Once you replace your window you have charted a path that means when these windows need fixing and they will they will have to be replaced. This is the same for you and any new owner that purchases your house. Permanent replacement windows means you have to keep replacing them permanently.
    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    Original windows can be maintained & kept for as long as the structure lasts.

    Vinyl is polluting the air during the manufacture process. They often cannot be repaired, they are expensive & can take over 15 years of energy "savings" (this is assuming the old windows are never maintained) to actually recoup the initial investment.

    Replacements NEVER FIT your home the way originals do. They pop in the replacement & seal it with calking & cover up the edges with cheesy trimwork that is totally unlike the originals in your home.

    I fixed (and am still fixing) mine....you can too.

    Reglaze them...your house will be happier for it. It's been there long before you came along & will be there long after you're gone. Be a caretaker...not a destroyer.

    This issue is so much more than an oil bill.
    The true Craftsman is nearly extinct,
    now it's just Made in China Hidden Content

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,096

    Default Re: historical preservation vs. staying warm

    Replacements may be viable here, but if you go that way save everything you pull out carefully and put it in the attic so that future owners have the option of a historical restoration if they want that.
    With me, unless a house/building is of great current historical significance, I tend toward the better performance and ease of maintenance you get with properly installed replacement windows. Your home, your choice.

    Phil

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: historical preservation vs. staying warm

    I may be beating a dead horse, but it's a subject I'm passionate about.

    You absolutely should save and maintain the original windows! Folks can argue about efficiency vs. replacements all day, but I have never heard of even a top of the line replacement lasting 50 years let alone the 200+ years yours have lasted.

    Even with storms they may not be quite as efficient as an expensive replacement, but since when is a historic house judged first on it's ability to be the most efficient on the block??

    Install the storms and restore the old windows. The ROI will be better and so will the resale value of the house.

    (2 dropped)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: historical preservation vs. staying warm

    Check out this link on the Bedford project.

    http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/tv/h...496798,00.html

    You would be interested in episode 3106. You should be able to download the video of that show. It shows the restoration of the historic windows, and I agree with those who favor restoration over replacements.

    After the old windows are tightened up, there are ways to make the windows more energy efficient than any replacement windows for less money. You have to take a tip from the oldest historical houses, interior shutters. With storm windows and interior shutters, you can see a total of R-5 at night, then open the shutters during the day and enjoy an actual heat gain from most windows with the most gain coming from the south facing windows.

    I also strongly recommend the book "From the Walls In" by Charles Wing. He did a lot of research into why we build the way we do and why things were built the way they were in the past. He discovered a lot of lost technologies from the past. The book is no longer in print, but used copies are available on the internet. You might find a copy in your local library, that is where I saw and read it the first time. I have purchased two copies since, lost one and right now, I can't find the other.

    From his research, he found that older houses with single pane glass, a little insulation in the attic and none in the walls typically lost about 30% of its heat through the roof, 20% through the walls, 20% through infiltration around windows and doors, 20% through the window glass and about 10% through the floor. He also found that older houses had up to 10 complete exchanges of air every hour, typical modern houses have about 4 exchanges per hour and some tight houses have 2 or less, but many of the tight houses also became sick houses. The book was written in the 70's and the technology for supertight houses was new at the time.

    In the book, he has a design for interior shutters that is very efficient. The frames are made from 1x1 (1x2 for really large windows) and covered on both sides with a foil backed (on one side) paperboard with the foil surfaces facing each other. This creates the ideal 3/4" spacing between foil surfaces that results in a R-3 rating. If the paperboard is not foil faced, the R value drops to less than one. You can cover or paint the exteriors of the shutters as you wish.

    You can also put a reflective film tint on the interior side of the storm windows to add a little extra R value, but it will also reduce the heat gain during the day.

    Uninsulated walls have an R-5 value. Adding insulation does not always give the returns the homeowner expects, but I think it is still worth doing. It will however have the lowest ROI, but the ROI is usually acceptable. Just blowing insulation into the walls will bring it up to about an R-10 or R-11. About 10% of the wall is studs and the studs have about an R-5 value. The lower value of the studs compounds problem by pulling heat from the wall surfaces and conducting it around the insulation. But even then, R-11 is better than R-5, and the insulation reduces infiltration as well.

    Pulling down the lath and plaster, installing fiberglass batts and a vapor barrier (and replacing any old wiring and pipes) and then covering with sheet rock will help a little more. Sheet rock has about half the surface conduction of plaster, the vapor barrier will reduce infiltration more and upgrading the wiring etc speaks for itself.

    For the fastest paybacks (highest ROIs), I would start with a good layer of insulation in the attic. Then make the window interior shutters and weather strip the doors. The reason for doing this is to start saving as much money as possible to help fund the other upgrades. Then refurbish all the windows and storms and finally do the walls last.

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