Historical Homes: Beautiful yet Inefficient

Why older houses – and especially their windows – may need an upgrade

If you’ve ever spent any time in a historical house – perhaps one of those old houses turned into a museum – you probably marveled at the design and architecture. Many of these older buildings are gorgeous, and they offer an excellent glimpse into the past, as well as a chance to get an up-close look at some exquisite craftsmanship. Often, however, these fantastic homes come with a big caveat: poor energy efficiency. 

Without any modern upgrades, historical houses can be sweltering in the summer and freezing in the winter. This is something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about buying one. Or, if you already live in an older home and are tired of extremely high utility bills, fortunately there are some things you can do to save energy and cut costs

4 ways to improve a historical home’s energy efficiency

Put in new light bulbs – Not only do LED bulbs last longer than the incandescent variety, they also don’t use as much energy.

Add insulation to the attic – New or extra blown-in or blanket insulation in an attic can immediately reduce heating and cooling costs.

Update the plumbing – Older fixtures like toilets and showerheads can use quite a bit of water, but changing to low-flow models will fix this.

Replace the windows – A large percentage – 30% or more – of lost energy is due to old and inefficient windows. 

While the first three on this list are mostly subtle changes nobody will really notice, the same can’t be said about the windows. A historical home’s windows are an integral part of what makes it historical in the first place. This is why the choice to replace them shouldn’t be done lightly. So, how do you know you need new ones? See if any of these things sound familiar:

There’s a draft – Do you feel air coming in every time you walk by?

Opening or closing them isn’t easy – It shouldn’t require much exertion to simply open or shut them.

They are old and worn – Cracked or broken panes, peeling or chipped paint, or gaps between the wall and the frame detract from the beauty of a home.

If you have come to the conclusion that your home needs its windows replaced, below are a few issues to keep in mind.

Legal restrictions

If your home is a registered landmark, legally you can’t just do whatever you want to it. If you are able to put in new windows, there could be limitations, such as no composite or plastic materials. 

Historical accuracy

Even if you can do what you like with your home, you probably bought it (or are planning to buy it) in part because of its unique appearance, and this means you don’t want to do anything to drastically change it. For example, vinyl inserts may be inexpensive, but replacing wood windows with them will hurt a home’s historical integrity. 

An old look but with modern amenities

Thanks to technological advancements, historical homes can get modern upgrades that improve energy efficiency without hurting aesthetic features. Going with simulated divided lite bars that incorporate shadow bars, for example, will offer the appearance of historical windows, but due to the insulated glass, they will be much more efficient than the originals. 

Marvin is the master when it comes to historical replacement windows

As you can see, a balance is needed when replacing the windows in a historical home; they need modern functionality without appearing to be too modern. This is where a company like Marvin comes in. One of their specialties is creating energy-efficient windows that wouldn’t look out of place on any old home. Marvin offers a variety of custom historical design solutions that include glazing, divided lites, sash lugs, and even windows that operate with a chain and pulley. 

Trust your window replacement job to the experts

In addition to high-quality products and materials, you also need skilled and experienced contractors for your replacement window project. At Blue Nail, we have been working with historical homeowners for years, and we understand the intricacies involved in making window upgrades to older homes. This is why we go through painstaking efforts to make sure they retain their beauty and charm while at the same time improving energy efficiency. Want to learn more about what we offer? Give us a call at 973-937-8876 or send us a message through our online contact form