Windows in Historic Homes: Repair or Replace?
Single-pane windows in historic homes often are important architectural features. Trouble is, they can account for air leaks and energy losses.
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Old windows can be replaced with modern units that feature double- or even triple-pane construction, reducing air leaks and significantly improving thermal performance. It seems like a no-brainer, but historic preservation committees in some communities would disagree, arguing that historical authenticity is more important than slight gains in energy efficiency.
That seems to be the situation facing Mike Keesee, as he explains in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor.
Preservationists will not allow the replacement of historic windows, he writes. They’d rather see old windows tightened up with new weather-stripping or insulated shades. Are there studies available, Keesee asks, that would quantify efficiency gains of replacing old windows with new ones?
There’s no question that a modern double-pane window will outperform a single-pane window fitted with a storm window, as one poster is happy to confirm. But the question is more complex. An opposing point of view argues windows are only one potential energy loss in older houses, and should rightfully be seen as a precious resource rather than a problem.
That debate between energy efficiency and historical authenticity is the subject of this week’s Q&A Spotlight.