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By: Geza Csuros
There is a lot of pressure nowadays to replace wooden window frames with modern materials and designs. What is needed is to cut through the hype and compare old wood windows vs. New replacement windows. Only by getting all the appropriate facts can a proper decision be made. Remember, you are being asked to spend a lot of money, which you may later regret.

Condition is the most important consideration. If older windows have rotted and are not capable of being repaired, then the answer becomes obvious. There is no alternative but to replace them. In fact, the sooner this is done, the better, otherwise damage to the rest of the surrounding structure could result as well.

If the existing window is reasonably sound, then ways of improving the comparative effectiveness at retaining heat should be considered. There can be no question that modern, Energy Star rated replacements are far more energy efficient. However, it is important to consider whether total renewal is cost effective, compared to cheaper alternatives.

An older window can quickly be improved by fitting a good storm shutter. This will quite likely result in better efficiency than installing double glazing, at a fraction of the cost. Further improvement can be had from coating the glass with special energy-efficient films. This means you will be getting a bigger reduction in heat losses at lower cost.

If simply cutting home energy bills is the primary concern, then there is much more to be gained by considering measures such as insulation to reduce energy losses in the rest of a home. The window area normally accounts for only 10% of energy loss, and while savings will certainly be possible, benefits should be evaluated on this basis. Also, remember that the use of drapes will further reduce energy losses from both types of window by providing a large volume of insulating air.

The appearance of your home is also a big factor. The windowing plays a big role in determining the character of any building, and older homes sell largely on this factor. You should consider very carefully before taking any step that might reduce the value of your home. After all, you probably bought it because of its old-fashioned charm in the first place.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has some great tips on how to weatherize the older type of window. There are also as discussions on how to make older buildings more energy efficient without substantially altering their appearance. They will show you how to achieve the best results while preserving the original charming appearance of your older home.

One thing to remember is that you should not ask a salesman for advice on whether you should replace anything. The drive behind the current pressure on old wood windows vs. new replacement windows is coming from vested interests with their own agendas. Probably the best approach for you to take is to consider aspects such as the potential impact on appearance, whether actual savings are likely to justify the change, and whether the current fittings can be simply repaired before making any decision.


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