Windows are often the lowest insulated portion of your home, and are the compromise we make to for natural light. However, we generally recommend focusing first on air sealing and insulating the top and bottom of the home first before you move to windows to maximize the impact.
There are many other good reasons to consider window replacements, and one of those is lead paint. Homes built before 1978 may have lead paint in them. There is no safe level of lead paint, and Green Homeowners United can help with lead-safe services in window replacement.
Energy-Star Window Replacement
New Energy-Star vinyl windows can easily be installed in most spaces, providing better operation and improved energy efficiency. Windows lose energy in two ways: via air leaks and heat transfer through them ("convection" and "conduction" respectively). Modern windows come in either double-pane or triple-pane, and are coated with a "Low-E" film the reflects heat as well as filling the spaces between the panes of glass with gas such as argon.
Windows tend to be more expensive than many other energy efficiency improvements, but they are also far a more noticeable portion of your home.
Existing Window Rehabilitation
Tyler (Energy Auditor) spray foaming basement rim joists and sealing gaps where energy is lost.
Old windows do not necessarily need to be replaced. In fact, considering the amount of energy used to manufacture new vinyl windows, it actually may be better for the planet to rehab the existing ones first.
Rehabbing old windows will involve repairing locks, sashes, etc. to ensure they can close properly and securely. It may include applying or improving weatherstripping too, but even more important is the area around the window: the "rough-in".
Underneath the window trim is the area where the window connects to the drywall, and for many homes that gap is stuffed with fiberglass. Unfortunately, fiberglass is not airtight, and can contribute to why your windows feel drafty. Removing the fiberglass and spray foaming this gap can reduce air leaks there.
Similarly, old windows may have a "weight and pulley" system. Improvements can be made to allow them to work without the weight and to properly seal that cavity.
Lead Safe Renovations
Lead paint is an environmental hazard found in many old homes. In some cases it can be left alone, but if it flaking/chipping or at a location with a lot of friction like windows or stairs it is important to get it professionally removed.
Green Homeowners United is a full lead-certified company and all of our workers are lead abatement trained. We now offer lead safe renovations, using the safety principles of lead abatement while now focusing on what our team does best: energy efficiency upgrades. The most common exposed area of lead paint is around old windows.
We offer lead spot testing and lead safe window replacements when necessary. Not all old windows contain lead, it is important to test before making a decision on whether or not a window replacement project needs to be lead safe or in full lead abatement.