How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With Vintage Windows

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With Vintage Windows

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With Vintage Windows

Why Vintage Windows are Greener

Older windows made of wood or metal often perform just as well or better than new vinyl or composite windows when it comes to energy efficiency. The craftsmanship and materials of vintage windows give them inherent advantages for sustainability. Here’s why vintage windows are a greener choice:

  • Old-growth wood frames are dense and rot-resistant, providing excellent insulation value that can last for decades with proper maintenance. New-growth wood is fast-growing but less durable.

  • Vintage steel and cast iron frames are extremely long-lasting and fully recyclable at end of life. New vinyl frames have a shorter lifespan and limited recyclability.

  • Restoring vintage windows reuses existing materials, reducing demand for new materials and manufacturing. Replacement windows generate construction waste headed to landfills.

  • Custom-made vintage windows suit their original openings almost perfectly, reducing air infiltration from gaps. New windows often have imperfect fits that require sealing and insulation.

  • Historic windows preserve a home’s aesthetics and ambiance. Replacement windows can diminish historic character and property value.

Evaluating Your Existing Windows

Before replacing vintage windows, have them assessed by a contractor familiar with restoration to identify options for gaining efficiency:

  • An energy audit can diagnose where air leaks or insulation gaps exist. Targeted weatherstripping, caulking, storm windows, or window inserts can remedy many issues.

  • Sash locks, balances, and frames may need repairs or upgrades to restore proper functionality and seals.

  • Check condition of glazing putty; re-puttying panes helps seal air gaps. Consider upgrades to double-pane glass for even more efficiency.

  • Paint, stain or varnish can protect wood elements from deterioration while sealing drafts. Make sure moisture issues are addressed before cosmetic treatments.

  • Refurbishing hardware like hinges and latches improves both functionality and visual appeal.

Consider a window’s architectural significance, operational condition, lead paint risks, and costs/benefits of restoration vs replacement. Seek contractors experienced in working on vintage homes.

Energy-Saving Window Restoration Tips

Ifwindow assessments show your existing windows are good candidates for restoration, here are some tips to maximize energy savings:

  • When reglazing, use materials like linseed oil putty that flex with seasonal expansion and contraction of frames. Modern caulks and glues may fail prematurely.

  • Retain old wavy glass panes called crown glass rather than replacing them – the waviness actually slows convection of air for improved efficiency.

  • Add interior or exterior storm windows for a reversible thermal upgrade that preserves original windows. Storm windows can reduce heat loss by 25-50%.

  • Install weatherstripping around windows to cut back on air infiltration. Choose durable metal strips or sweeps for a tight seal with smooth operation.

  • Insulate window weight pockets inside jambs to prevent drafts. Foam insulation inserts are quick and inexpensive.

  • Use low-VOC paints/finishes on window sashes and frames to avoid off-gassing pollutants. Look for GreenSeal-certified options.

  • When renovating, take care not to damage framing when removing old paint containing lead. Follow EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule for safety.

Restoring vintage windows preserves architectural heritage while enhancing energy efficiency. With some upgrades, classic windows can meet or exceed the performance of modern replacements.

Finding Salvaged Vintage Windows

If some of your windows are too deteriorated to save, consider finding vintage replacements from architectural salvage shops and resellers. Advantages of salvaged windows:

  • Salvaged windows are often higher quality than new replacement windows.

  • Installation is streamlined since salvaged windows are ready to install, with no wait time for custom sizing.

  • Vintage windows offer a broader range of styles that maintain historic charm.

  • Less production energy is used to create salvaged windows compared to manufacturing new replacements.

  • Salvage keeps vintage windows out of landfills and construction waste.

When shopping for salvaged windows:

  • Bring exact measurements of your window openings. Custom sizing of old windows can be difficult or impossible.

  • Examine window components closely for functionality, damage, lead paint, and repairs needed.

  • Evaluate energy-saving features like double-paned glass, storm windows, and condition of weatherstripping.

  • Hire an experienced contractor for installation to avoid damages and retrofit windows properly.

  • Be prepared to pay premium prices for highly desirable period-specific architectural windows.

Salvaging quality vintage windows for your home is like finding buried treasure! With a bit of restoration, these green gems are ready to provide comfort, charm, and sustainability for generations more.