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Are replacement windows a fad?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Adios Pantalones, Jun 26, 2008.

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  1. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I looked on a site- maybe DIY.com, and they had several articles on replacing windows. A couple of articles made the claim that in most cases replacing a single pane window with a modern double pane is a waste unless it's just for looks. They said that attic insulation and a few other things went much further, and that replacing windows was sort of a fad as of late.

    Now I have leaky poor fitting windows- so I really need new ones. They don't lock all the way and I can feel a draft out of them.

    So my question is- do people focus on the wrong things in energy savings? Are we penny wise and pound foolish? Should most new woodstove buyers looking to save on heating be doing something simpler and more basic first- like insulating attics?

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    In terms of heat saved per dollar, I think you may be right that attic insulation is one of the first.

    BUT

    Windows do lose a tremendous amount of heat......

    Something as simple as a well insulated window shade can make a big difference- especially when you open and close it at the right time. Way back when, our shop sold and installed Window Quilts - I put them on our home (single insulated windows) and they made cold rooms much warmer.

    I guess that it always depends what you are stepping up from an to. Single to double glass by itself may not make the difference, but add the specialty coatings, the gas (argon?) and the tightness (as compared to very old windows) and you may have something.

    We were taught - rule of thumb - that even double windows lose 6x the heat of the same wall area. That would mean that the sizes of windows in the house under consideration is very important also.
  3. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Good points. My downstairs has like 12-13 windows. That is a considerable amount of our wall area, and we are shaded from the South. This probably means that doing windows in my circumstance makes more of a difference.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Some window designs are just awful and leak air like sieves. Often older windows have no seals at all or they have deteriorated badly. Other windows are all metal frames and conduct heat out of the room (and condense moisture on the inside). These should be replaced and will pay back in heat saved. There are even some newer designed windows that maintain R5 to R8 insulation value. They can be pricey, but help reduce the 6x heat loss to 2x. For large windows that can be significant. And if one lives on a noisy street, double pane windows can help reduce the noise.
  5. Telco

    Telco New Member

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    Yes, they do, like replacing new appliances with energy star appliances. Your windows are defective per your post, so I'd replace them. On the other hand, my windows are 4 years old and while they are pretty crappy vinyl frame windows that anyone with a pocket knife could break into by just cutting around the frame, the money I'd spend replacing them would not be saved back, likely at all, since they do retain heat in the winter and reject heat in the summer. If your windows weren't bad already then the money would be better spent on insulation, but since you have to replace the windows due to defectiveness replace them with the best you can afford. If possible, while doing this window replacement you might also consider filling a few windows in. Easy to do and still look right if the house is sided, but difficult and expensive if rocked or bricked. If you have siding, just fill in the offending windows, peel off the old siding, slap a few inches of styrofoam around the house and reside.
  6. Vic99

    Vic99 Minister of Fire

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    Last year I replaced 3 very leaky ancient bedroom windows, the sum probably equal to the surface area of 2.5 standard double hung, with about 85 square feet of double pane injected, UV coating whatever . . . plus a 65 inch base half round window above. It made a big difference in how the room feels. Obviously lots of heat was lost where the frames were not tight.

    That said, I wanted data. I did an experiment comparing the effect of open drapes vs. closed drapes at night in that room. Starting outdoor and bedroom temps were the same and starting outdoor temps were within a few degrees. End result, the drapes kept the room 2 degrees F warmer (65 F vs. 67 F).

    I'd spend the money on a simple double pane replacement (they are fairly cheap now) if an old leaky window couldn't be made significantly better. The draft is usually too much. Otherwise, I'd only replace if I were doing something to the wall anyway.

    I think attic insualtion is the best thing followed by insulating where the foundation meets the frame of the house. Foam under outlets and light switches is another easy significant fix when you look at cost and effort vs. impact.
  7. burntime

    burntime New Member

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    I am almost finished replacing all my windows. 1st is definietly attic insulation, next caulk all those gaps!!! I am doing anderson 400 series low e double pane full windows. The inserts do not address the area under the case mouldings. Mine had minimal insulation. The new windows have fire/ice membrane over the opening, were siliconed to the frame, and I blew minimal expanding foam in the openings to FILL the cavity. It was like 5 bucks a window but well worth it for the foam. On the bottom sill where the gap is larger I foamed towards the outside and fiberglassed the big area. I have a brick home so full replacement windows with a nailing fin can be done! The difference is incredible!!! My old were single pane and sealled well with storms, they just were a son of a gone to open. If you spend the money get low e, they may limit some solar gain but the eliminate the heat in the summer! I bought my windows for a standard say 3-4 window for about 300 bucks each and installed with another 125 in material between foam, oak casing, brick mold etc... Renewal by andersons are like 850 a window. I know this is long winded but I can say from experience that the "inserts" only address half the problem.
  8. MainePellethead

    MainePellethead Minister of Fire

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    I absolutely recommend windows if you can do it. My house is only 22 years old and had the wood tone windows of the 80's with pain in the butt screening. Well I made the plunge 4 years ago(before I had the pellet stove) to get all new replacement windows and I havent looked back since. VERY well spent cash. My windows I thought wasnt losing heat...I tell ya...as soon as my first winter arrived with the new windows...I could keep my thermostat down at least 3-4 degrees comfortably and thats significant in todays prices. And I agree.....it matters on the window. A local place here distributes Stanley Pro Fit Windows(life time warranty) and I bought their top of the line ones and I love them. I didnt like the quality of HD's cheaper ones....but to each his own.
  9. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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    Aaaaaah, just put a beach towel over the window when it get's cold...............
  10. burntime

    burntime New Member

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    Kinda defeats the purpose of a window :lol:
  11. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    My problem on cost is that I live in a log home so it'd look stupid having anything but wood interior. I may go for the combo wood interior and vinyl/whatever exterior but they're expensive.
  12. burntime

    burntime New Member

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    Anderson I think are Vinyl, pellas seem decent, and they are aluminum. The verdict is not out which is better but everything I see is that the vinyl should win. With aluminum you could "woodgrain" it pretty easy with some faux paint texture if you really wanted to be anal about it. Myself in a log home...I would try it without and probably texture it.
  13. SteveT

    SteveT Feeling the Heat

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    Three years ago I had an energy audit. Based on the results I spent $1700 on improved insulation ($3200 total minus $1500 rebate from the utilities). My oil consumption dropped by between 15% and 20% (measured by K-factor, or degree-days per gallon of heating oil used). I have already saved more than I spent.

    Last year I spent about ten times as much in replacing the windows. The windows were original single-pane wood windows in a house built in 1941. They did however have fairly high quality aluminum storm windows (vintage early 1960's). Although there is a vast improvement in the aesthetics there has been no discernible energy improvement.

    I am not sorry I replaced the windows because the house looks a whole lot nicer. But if I want to realize a net savings based on oil use I'll have to live another 150 years or so.
  14. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Engine- that's exactly inline with what they were saying.
  15. burntime

    burntime New Member

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    I am wondering if you guys have a much milder winter then we do in Wisconsin? My first window purchase was a 70x55 front window and 14ft of windows on the other side of my livingroom, my usage year to year for the same heating degree days was down 15%, I tracked it on 3 identical months. Now that is a large area of windows but you get the idea. It seems to make a bigger difference the lower you go past 30 degrees...no icing on the windows and no cold resonating off of them. We had 15 below for 1 night last winter and the insert still kept up untill late in the night. If you have mild winters like KY you would benefit from the ac savings on the other end...mild inbetween weather then it would take a long time to recoup.
  16. Jim K in PA

    Jim K in PA Minister of Fire

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    This is a touchy and somewhat subjective subject. It should not be, but is. People spend big $$ to replace their windows and are often convinced to do so by good sales techniques rather than through rational analysis. They also want to believe that the investment was worthwhile, when often it is not (financially at least).

    As has been pointed out, windows in and of themselves, are difficult to construct in a manner that will allow them to function and appear the way people want them to without creating a ready path for heat to escape your home. However, if you have older, true divided light windows with wood frames, you can make them seal better and perform nearly as well as a newer double glazed window. Spring bronze weather stripping, neoprene bulb seals, proper glazing and good fit will reduce infiltration losses to those of newer windows, and sometimes better. This reduction in infiltration will account for 90% of the "feels warmer" effect as well as the real reduction in heat loss. Yes, inert gases can reduce transmission/radiant losses compared to regular air filled double pane windows, but not to an extent equal to the cost for the feature. Furthermore, thermopane seals fail over time, allowing not only the escape of the "argon", but also the introduction of moisture. Moisture will not only ruin the appearance of the window, but will dramatically increase the rate of conductive losses. I have 23 double glazed windows in my home that were installed c.1978-1980. 19 of them have failed seals with moisture in between the glazing.

    We live in an early 19th century farm house. All of our windows are being replaced (by me) with salvaged 19th century wood sashes with modern seals in new frames, with properly fitting outer storm windows. Upper sashes are fixed and sealed to the jambs. The larger low-exchange air space between the sash and storm will have as much or more insulative value than a 5mm air gap in a double glazed window. I will have less than $150 per window opening invested in my windows, and they will look better and perform as well as any modern window.

    I am not saying replacement windows are wrong for everyone, but I submit that more replacements are being bought than are necessarily justified. $30 worth of weather stripping is a lot cheaper than $250 for a new window that will fail in 20 years.

    Just my $.045 (adjusted for rising steel and oil prices . . . ;-) )
  17. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Jim- that's sort of why I brought it up. I can see people not wanting to descend into buyer's remorse when a few simple things would have a big impact... I'd like a wood boiler system, but windows are first for me (have insulated attic, and continue to track down leaks, which spring up in my '79 log home frequently).

    Of course if you have leaky windows, or they're ugly, or what not- replacing may be worth it as some testimony above indicates. In NH we have winters... maybe not as bad as Wisconsin, but not a lot would call it really mild. Comparing one year to another, or one month to the same month then next year is a tough way to get real data as every year is different. I have an uncomfortable draft on my neck when I sit on my couch in January... like to fix that.
  18. backpack09

    backpack09 Minister of Fire

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    One more not to add... In this housing market, if you are looking to sell... No one is going to buy your house unless they have atleast vinyl/double pain replacement windows. At least up here in taxachusetts.
  19. MainePellethead

    MainePellethead Minister of Fire

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    I received approx. the same results burntime. When you have drafts in your windows...no one is going to tell me that you are not going to save $$ from replacing the windows. I have saved myself in $$ as I raised the comfort level from drafts that I never realized I had until I replaced all of the windows. Not to mention the ease of cleaning "and" the icing etc as you mentioned. Theres more pro's to cons for replacing windows. I chose replacements which are much cheaper than new construction and just as great of a benefit.
  20. myzamboni

    myzamboni Minister of Fire

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    Valid point except nobody out my way has double-hung and have no clue what a storm window is(unless they are a transplant. I did replace our single-pane casement (crank to open) with double-pane sliders. The rooms are warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and the noise tranmission is seriously reduced (used to hear my neighbor start their car when I was in the back of our house, now I can't, nor can I hear the trash truck).
  21. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    There's an advertisement circulating around here that claims you can save "up to 45%" on your energy costs with replacement windows and the number are supposed to be supported by DOE research. I think they would have to be some pretty poor windows to start with to pull this off. Since the window area in a wall is typically less than 10% and the replacement cost is so much higher than just insulation, I don't think they will really "pay" for themselves, particularly the Gucci brands with the triple pane rare earth gas filled kevlar reinforced frames.

    We used to have steel frame jalousie windows in our first home that were so bad, they would blow off the window film that we tried to put up. In cold weather, they used to freeze up and have 1/4 -1/2 inch of ice on them. We ended up replacing them, frame and all, with some vinyl builder windows. The effects were incredible, but I won't say that they paid for themselves. We ended up moving a year later! House #2 had just had replacement windows put in right before it was sold, so we didn't worry about it.

    We moved into our current house about 8 years ago and the windows were in bad shape; not really leaky, but storms were missing and they would have needed a lot of work to make them look good. There was very little discussion when I suggested replacing them to the wife. I paid my BIL to replace them with some locally made replacement windows and they look and work great. Definitely money well spent, but may not ever pay for themselves.

    FWIW, I have played with some heat loss software to see what the effect of various improvements would make. All the losses showed up as infiltration, which can be sealed up with a few tubes of caulk and some weatherstripping. Even a single pane window isn't that bad if you have storms and a shade. Best available technology is great if you can afford it, but a little caulk and insulation goes a long way, IMHO.

    Chris
  22. yankeeswapper

    yankeeswapper New Member

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    For what its worth, I installed hundreds of vinyl windows over the past 15 years as a deleading contractor and later as my wrists wore out, a renovation contractor. You have to consider several factors, as you seem to already have. The ease of use and DIY installation cannot be overstressed. Just make sure you use minimally expanding foam when filling in voids in the frame area. If you have weights and pulleys, tear 'em out and insulate that cavity. If you have a log home, there won't be much of a gap there anyway. Spend a little extra on a window that has the "look" that you like. The esthetic value is important as well. I built several log homes with a friend who had a dealership for New England Log Homes in Belchertown. You can get wood thermopane windows that look nice in a log home. Hope this helps. One other thing, the ease of cleaning is nice too, mine get tilted out once a year. I've installed 20 vinyl windows in our 1840 Greek Revival and if I can afford it, I will be replacing another 26 within the next two years. Every window means less wood to split !!
  23. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    AP, I was where you are until this spring. And last year I heated w/oil !

    My windows were mostly 32 YO Anderson wood/vinyl. Most didn't close. Some didn't lock ( to atleast give me a feeling of heat worthiness . Last winter was a horrible mess. Which is how I ended up here.

    Anyways, I digress.

    I bit the bullet with my refund $$$$'s this year and went to town with new windows, and a front door

    Before ..winter of "06.
    [​IMG]

    last month..note the log cabin thingy. The whole house used to look like that :)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    3 windows replaced, and 3 in the main objective to go

    [​IMG]

    I went with Home Depot windows. At roughly$150 a pop. Sweat Equity labor.

    I can feel the differance in the house already, especially when the windows AC's are on. You do notice the missing drafts. I can't wait for winter, and not to feel them.

    My 2 cents..go for it if you can, and insulate the heck around the windows before the sheetrock/plywood/inside whatever goes on.

    **hyper links to save on band space**
  24. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    A couple years ago, I read a book called "Moveable Insulation," dealing primarily with window insulation. It showed that the knee of the R value curve for optimum cost/benefit is somewhere in the R5 to R8 zone. So I cut some 2" styrofoam panels (R8) to snugly fit in all the windows in the living space (all single pane) during the winter. On the south side, they go up at sundown and come down at sunup. On the east side, they stay up all winter (covered by drapes.) And on the west side, they come down at noon and go back up at sundown. It's made a huge difference in heat retention. Some day I'll make it look snazzy with insulated shutters but this works for now. My experience has convinced me that a double pane window, regardless of construction, cannot match an insulation panel for heat retention.

    I will need to replace some windows at some point. Like others here, I'm not sure if double pane is worth it or not, especially when there's daytime solar gain involved.
  25. kalevi

    kalevi Member

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    I had all my windows replaced. I went from double hung wood frame to crank open or closed argon filled double pane with the dual low emissivity coating. The interesting thing is that the windows were designed so that the base of the frame has very little conduction. As for total energy savings, probably not too much. Normal winter to winter variability washed out the difference in my oil bill. I do notice in summer that when you walk past the windows, you do not feel much radiated heat coming from outside and reverse in winter, you don't feel heat being sucked out of you when you get near the windows. The argon filled windows also cut down on outside noise much better than the previous windows. Also, I do not have to scrape and paint them every couple of years.
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