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Question DetailsAsked on 12/6/2014

Would I see much difference in warmth in the winter if I replaced my old wood double hung windows?

I live in a 115 year old house. Double paned Anderson windows were installed in all the rooms downstairs in the 1970's. They seem to be holding up great and we don't get much draft if any from them. Upstairs, we have three of four rooms that have single pane double hung wood frame windows as well as a double hung at the top of the stairs. The other room has Anderson windows; the same as downstairs. Two of the rooms with the double hung have outside storm windows; however, in the winter, the double hung still ice up if it gets to 20 degrees or below. The house is not insulated and we don't plan on doing that. Changing the windows would probably not add any value to the home as we live in a depressed area. I was just wondering if the rooms would be any warmer or if there would be no difference. I live about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, PA on a hill with houses on both sides with about 10 feet on each side. Only one of the two rooms with the storm windows has heat. Thanks.

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5 Answers

Voted Best Answer

If the job is done right you would be warmer in winter. Done right? custom fit the replacement windows to the exact size of the opening. professional installation by a reputable contractor is part of it. for your part of the country and for your needs do not buy a window that has a u-vlue higher then thirty . You want a window that save on heating dollars then you want a lower uvalue like 27 or twenty five , the lower the u value the less heat will be lost. Your old wood window with single pane probably lets out 80 percent of the heat a good vinyl replacement window should hold in about 80 percent of the heat. big difference.

Answered 5 years ago by the new window man


With an uninsulated house I would not expect a dramatic difference even with the highest rated windows, but the rooms should be nominally warmer - the biggest difference would probably be cutting down on the draft of cold air cascading off the windows to the floor. Your biggest problem may be drafts from the seals - double hung windows are the pits with respect to airtightness because they do not have a positive closure, though a draw-tight latch can help if you do not have that - like this, where the latch pulls the two sashes together (hopefully at a weatherstrip) to close the gap between them - Other things you can do other than replace the windows - 1) feel for drafts around the sides of the windows/around trim - non-expanding spray foam in a can or press-in foam backer rod in the gap around the window in the gap between window and rough opening (under the interior trim) can eliminate air flow around there. Of course, you have to remove the intearior trim to do that. 2) check your seals - probably felt strips if old windows or vinyl if newer - they can be replaced. Some peel out from a groove, some glued-on, some screwed-on strips - Home Depot and Lowes are pretty good about having workable (though not necessarily identical) replacement weather stirpping to cut down on cold air passing through the window unit. 3) Stick-on foam weatherstripping, usually the thinnest available, can be put on the compression sealing surfaces - where the windows close against the frame - to cut air flow there. 4) Commonly, a second lap-over flexible vinyl weatherstrip can be applied to the face of the window so as it closes it seals against the other double-hung unit, providing an airseal at that interface. Can also be used against the edge of the window, mounted on the frame with the flap edge rubbing against the sash - looks like this but light-duty for windows, from FrostKing and M-D and others - Felt nail-on strip can also be used, mounted on the frame, contacting the sash face, but doesnot last as long because of the wer as the closing window rubs against it. 5) Putting foam peel-and-stick strip weatherstripping or backer rod where the storm window meets the house or window can seal airflow through there - though if your double-hung windows are air leaky, that can cause icing on the storm window which, when melted, can lead to frame rot - same as the interior ice can. 6) Foam-insulated or double-layer heavy drapes can make a tremendous difference if kept closed most of the time the room is not in use - especially if they go to the floor (or nearly to top of radiator/baseboard heater if that is your heating type). This may make the biggest difference for you, as it dramatically cuts the convective heat flow and also largely blocks the radiative heat loss through the windows. You have to be careful about the icing though - you need to open them for a period daily or so to melt the ice on the window and to wipe up the condensation water to prevent rot, because the drapes, while cutting heat loss, will make the window colder because it is not exposed to the room heat as much so it will actually ice up worse - especially if your room humidity is high. Since in your area you are not really (I say as a new ice age moves in to your area this year) in a "cold" area, so I suspect this icing situation is only at periods through the winter not all winter long - so the drape solution might work well for you. 7) If these are windows that are not used for frequent outside viewing and are never opened in the winter, you can put shrink window sealer plastic over the inside of the windwo for the winter - made by Frost King and others, basically taped on plastic film that you shrink tight with a hair dryer to provide effectively another "pane". Be cautious if using in house with small children, because it is sort of like saran wrap with respect to choking hazards, and can also be a problem if you make it so a cat can sit on the window ledge - they love to claw it to shreds. Come in a variety of size ranges, and are trimmed to fit as put on the window. With care, can be reusded in future years but a hassle and will be wrinkled - generally a one-year solution.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


NewWindowMan - a question related to your response. You emphasized custom fitting windows to the rough opening, rather than just using windows that fit that general rough opening size.

I have always felt, assuming the opening is not so large that you can't reasonably fasten the window in place with long screws, that as long as the flashing and watershield and such is done right (including any make-up fill-in blocking under the outer trim or J or C channel or whatever), and so the outer trim covers the gap adequately, that an opening of an inch or even two around a window outer frame was not a problem on replacement windows, as long as it was properly watershielded and filled with non-expanding foam - which would give that area a better energy rating than the frame or wall itself. Of course, with large gaps like that the "wedges" around the window become 1x4 or 2x4 spacer blocking with wedges for final alignment to that, but same function.

Can you explain for my education (and for other readers of this thread down the line) why you feel custom sized windows (which are obviously more expensive in most cases) are important ?

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


When I go out to see people that are looking to change windows, I am often supprised when I show up to find that the windows they are looking to discard are not that old. One of the big problems turns out out to be windows that did not fit ( stock sized ) with fillers. The areas that where filled in are often leaking air and or water. Besides the look of smaller glass and bigger frames, stock sized windows do not often come with todays high performance features. I am a big fan and promoter of do it once, do it right, buy high performance windows and have them professionally installed. Custom sized has another big benifit, we dont have to make a bunch of construction mess. Take out the old window put in the new one, We do not effect the homeowners walls, siding, sheet rock, moldings, and the window shades, blinds etc. go right back up when we are done.


Answered 5 years ago by the new window man


You may wish to take a more "keep it simple" approach here. Windows cost a lot of money, and you won't really see that back by your own admission. For little money, you can buy a few big rolls of window caulking cord and press it around to provide a much better seal.

Considering the age of your house, there is probably not any latex caulk or spray foam around the perimeter of each window. If you are handy, you can remove the window trim and apply the appropriate product to seal those leaks, then replace the trim.

Please don't under-estimate what insulation and air sealing can do to help. If you still have the original poor insulation in your attic, then a combination of using fire-rated spray foam - to seal ALL penetrations in the ceiling to the attic, and more insulation in the attic - can have a great benefit - and won't break your wallet. The most important thing is to prevent the free flow of air from your highest level into the attic. Even small air leaks there are causing significant loss of heat and comfort. 1-2 cans of fire-rated foam and maybe 1-2 tubes of fire-rated caulk can usually seal all those up. You also may need to provide better sealing with inexpensive rubber/foam where your attic hatch is (if you have one). That is often a place where air easily finds it's way out of your heated space and up and away.

Good luck!


Answered 5 years ago by Jefferson


Thanks to everyone's input. There is a lot of good advice. None of the double hung have any felt. I assumed that was how the windows were made but now am thinking from what I read that maybe it just came off over time. Also, a lot of the old caulking on the outside of the windows are cracking off so it may be helpful for me to remove it all and put new caulking around. I have a finished attic with two rooms that both have forced air vents; but, they have huge double hung windows with no outer storm windows. I normally close the vents in both rooms. I inserted a bi-fold door from the second floor to the attic to help reduce heat loss. I'm not sure how much this helps. Both rooms in the attic have closets that are not insulated. I still have a slate roof. I have aluminum siding but no insulation between the lathe and the outer wall then siding. I have natural gas. My monthly budget bill is about $135/month and that includes a dryer, hot water tank, stove and furnace so doesn't seem to bad to me.

Answered 5 years ago by KMON

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