Author Topic: Replace old windows?  (Read 3260 times)

mrigney

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Replace old windows?
« on: February 15, 2015, 10:17:58 AM »
Recently moved into an older house. First winter here. House was built in 1965. As far as I know, windows are the originals. Single pane, wooden frame, etc. I have 15ish windows on the house give or take a couple. Most are "normal sized (e.g. not huge oversized windows except for one in the living room. I see advertisements frequently for new windows at $189/window installed (for vinyl, double paned...not sure the insulation rating) from window companies. So we're talking about $3k to put in new windows.

I live in north Alabama, so winters are cold, but relatively short (e.g. 7 straight days w/high temps in the 30s this week). My electric bill the last two months has been $290 and $260. This is with the heat set relatively low (67-69 depending on how cold the kids rooms get at night). This seems like I could save some money here for sure. What would the ROI be on new windows? How much money would I save on my power bill?

The house is a tri-level/split-level. The main floor has vaulted ceilings, so not sure how much I can do w/extra insulation there (no attic). I suppose I could look into insulation on the top floor?

Other recommendations? Should windows be my first step? Tired of this electric bill (especially coming from a 5 year old house where my highest electric bill ever was about $160...and only 10% less square footage than I'm currently in).

Greg

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Re: Replace old windows?
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2015, 11:51:52 AM »
Before windows, air sealing and insulation are a better investment.  Use acrylic caulk and seal around window, door and floor trim.  Seal between electrical boxes and surrounding drywall.  If you can, seal in the boxes where the wires come in.  That sort of thing.

Because rates vary geographically, kWh use is a better way to judge electric use.  Do you have electric heat?

mrigney

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Re: Replace old windows?
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2015, 01:53:10 PM »
Yes, electric heat. usage the last 4 months (average/day since billing cycles are different lengths), most recent going back has been:

87 kWH/day
115 kWH/day
37.7 kWH/day
42.6 kWH/day

So you can see that my usage has more than doubled since winter started. Part of it probably my AC unit...I have a friend who is an HVAC engineer who says that the system on my house (and most in the area) are inefficient below about 30F...not sure I can do much about that other than get a different unit...think I'll wait til this one dies for that (it's about 12 years old).

Your'e saying basically caulk around the window frames where the window meets the frame?

Greg

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Re: Replace old windows?
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2015, 06:53:16 PM »
No, I mean caulk where the window trim meets the window frame and wall.  Usually the trim loosely covers a large gap between the wall's window frame rough-opening and the actual window frame.  Sometimes this gap is insulated, sometimes not.  Caulking the cracks eliminates myriad small air leaks, which are how heat is moving around.  If you seal the floor trim (baseboard) to the floor and wall, as well as ceiling fixture boxes, you can eliminate a lot of convective air movement.

You can use temporary, removable caulk "rope" to seal where window sashes meet the frame, if you have drafts there.

Mostly I wanted to convey that there are many things to do before replacing windows.  Sealing drafts, replacing existing weatherstripping on doors and windows, insulation.  There are hole in wall bottom and top plates in the underfloor and attic areas that if sealed reduce heat loss as well.  Storm windows are also helpful and pretty easy to make.  you can buy gaskets to put behind outlet and switch cover plates that also help.

Josiecat

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Re: Replace old windows?
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2015, 01:44:48 PM »
1) Heated mattress pads
2) Thermal curtains/drapery layers

slugline

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Re: Replace old windows?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2015, 02:41:09 PM »
We're in pretty similar situations -- I recently moved into a 1960s all-electric house on the Gulf Coast. The first two tasks I tackled were (1) swapping in a programmable thermostat and (2) sealing up drafts at the doors, windows and brick-wall expansion joints.

Next up will be to go up and fortify the attic insulation. Windows are on my wish list, but I don't think they'll have the return on investment like the stuff above.

beanlady

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Re: Replace old windows?
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2015, 03:34:17 PM »
You could consider interior storm windows instead. They would probably be cheaper than even cheap new windows, and my experience has been that cheap new windows really are "cheap," with seals breaking within a few years.

You could also consider turning the heat down. I'm in NY and would go broke keeping the temperature that high. Wear sweaters!

merula

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Re: Replace old windows?
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2015, 03:48:23 PM »
I live in a place with severe winters, in a 100 year old house. I was tempted to replace my windows (single-pane double hung), but I didn't want to lose the character. I found a local company that "retro-fitted" my windows. Basically, they took them apart, replaced the knob and pulley system with plastic sliders and refitted the wood around the glass. Works better than it ever did, and looks pretty much the same. I also replaced the storms that were added in the 60's with new ones, but that was pretty cheap compared to new windows.

$260 sounds ridiculous for those temperatures, assuming you don't live in a 10,000 sq ft pole barn. Is your heater just not efficient at "low" temperatures? Are there other drafts? I'd agree that curtains/caulking/bundling up are probably going to give a much better ROI given how fleeting the low temps are.

(Low is in quotes because I'd just about kill for a day in the 30s. :) )
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 12:49:18 PM by merula »