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Go Ahead And Replace Your Windows, You Won’t Regret It

Originally Posted: February 12, 2009

Andrea Aurichio

New windows save energy, reduce the carbon footprint and enhance home values.

Southampton - If you are thinking about installing new windows - do it. While it may take years to recoup the investment when you compare the cost of retrofitting old windows to your heating bills this winter, you will reap the short term immediate benefit of saving on your heating bills and gain intrinsic value to your house with the added benefit of seeing the world through brighter panes.

Most windows need to be ordered and are custom made to
fit your frames regardless of their price.

New windows, even the base grade preferred by those on a budget, have many features that old single-pane glass windows generally coupled with single-pane storm windows do not have.

New windows are designed to be more energy efficient and cut-down on drafts. They are easier to clean since many of today's windows tilt out for easy cleaning. You can look out sparkling windows and enjoy the view without having to hire professional window washers or climb on porch roofs or precarious ladders to reach your second story windows.

Today's window technology simply described is like a sandwich. Manufactures put two panes of glass inside a wood or vinyl frame then fill this pocket with argon gas to add insulation. The windows can be fitted with full or half screens.

You also cut down on labor, yours or your handyman's, by eliminating the need to take your old wooden storm windows on and off as seasons change and replace them with your equally antiquated wood screen usually still made with metal screening rather than the more flexible nylon mesh now in use.

"New windows add value to your home," Mike Nistad, a professional window installer for 18 years, said. Nistad began his career as a contractor at the age of 15 while he was still in high school. He was lured into the business when he took on an after school job working for relatives.

"We built a deck. I thought it was the coolest thing. All of a sudden there was something there in a spot where there was nothing a few hours ago," Nistad said. As a high school student he took courses in building and construction at BOCES and turned professional when he graduated. "I started out in general construction before I went into windows," Nistad said.

Installer Mike Nistad at work retrofitting a window. Old wood frame
windows have been discarded to be replaced by double pane gas
filled vinyl windows. Photo by Andrea Aurichio

Nistad moves about a job site with precision and speed as he retrofits old wood frame windows covered by combination metal storm and screen windows, explaining the process as he works.

"Anything is an improvement compared to this," Nistad said, as he retrofitted three windows on a Southold cottage built in the 1920s. While construction work seems to be slowing down, Nistad notes window installation work is still fairly steady.

"We got busier than ever in the last two years as fuel prices started to go up and people became more conscious of saving energy," Nistad said.

Most windows need to be ordered and are custom made to fit your frames regardless of their price. Working with the few standard sizes that may be in stock at your lumberyard or supplier is not recommended by installers.

"Houses are built by hand and no two are alike," Nistad added, explaining the installation process. "You want the windows to fit just right. If they are too tight it doesn't work out and if they are too loose you get the drafts you are trying to eliminate."

Replacement windows have either vinyl or wood frames. Wood frames are more expensive but are only slightly more energy efficient than vinyl. Wood frames provide the benefit of slightly less air infiltration than vinyl. If you are replacing old windows or original windows in an older home that have never been replaced, chances are the frames are wood. These windows usually have a single-pane of glass and are not energy efficient when compared to gas filled double-pane windows whether they have vinyl or wood frames.

Despite a general slump in construction work window installers like
Nistad are busy everyday as homeowners strive to save energy
and improve their homes.

Wood frame windows are more easily disposed of than vinyl since they can be taken straight to the dump. Vinyl has to be treated as a recyclable material usually set aside in a designated dumpster for disposal which gives it less cradle to grave status than wood in terms of reducing the carbon footprint.

"There is no real test for proper insulation," Nistad added, noting that glass that is cold to the touch does not mean your windows are inefficient nor does it signify a significant heat loss. Houses can lose heat due to poor insulation or inefficient heating systems. "The real test of your windows is if you feel a draft when you stand six inches away," Nistad explained.

The short term saving on a heating bill resulting from the installation of new windows depends on the cost of the windows versus the cost of heating your home for the winter. Most industry insiders maintain the installation of double-pane windows reduces heat loss by 50 percent when compared to outmoded single-pane windows covered by equally outmoded single-pane storm windows.

You can retrofit your windows regardless of the age of your house. Nistad pointed to a recent job conducted on a house built in July of 1869. "The customer wanted to keep the old look of the house so we used wood replacement windows with an aluminum interior."

You can retrofit your windows regardless of the age
of your house.

Most homeowners do not change the size of their windows when they replace them despite the popularity of larger windows designed to exploit views. Sometimes a homeowner may replace three small windows with one picture window, depending on how complicated the installation presents.

In many towns a building permit is required to change window sizes if there is major construction involved or there is a possibility of building code violations as a result of the redesign.

While most people are quick to adapt to retrofitting discarding their single-pane widows for newer more efficient double or triple-pane, there are some holdouts.

"Churches are very reluctant to take out single pane windows. They won't do it, especially if they have stained glass windows that they want to save," Nistad said. So, how do churches go green, you may wonder? The answer to that question is divine.

"They keep the stained glass window on the outside and they put a new window on the inside," Nistad explained. God works in wondrous ways and so do new windows.

For additional information on new window installations, readers can contact:
 • Perimenters For The Home, offering window options for the Hamptons and the North Fork, 866-996-3250 or visit, http://www.perimetersforthehome.com

 • Speonk Lumber and ask of Grant at 631-325-0303 or visit, http://www.speonklumber.com

 • TELEMARK Custom Builders, service and maintenance division, (631) 537 1600 or visit http:://www.telemarkinc.com

 • Renewal By Anderson, Contact: Joe Ronzino, (631) 843-1713 or visit http://www.renealbyanderson.com

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