The Eyes of the Soul
Learn how to increase the energy efficiency of your home while preserving its historicity.
When it comes to Victorian architecture, the porch is the Welcome mat.
This is where family members gather after dinner or lunch to relax and interact with the rest of their community. With a simple hello, a Victorian homeowner can easily engage passersby and strike up a conversation. The porch is an extended living space, both well-used and beloved.
But if the porch is the welcome mat, then the windows are the eyes of the soul. Long, floor-to-ceiling lengths of bubbled glass let sunlight inside and allow those indoors to view the landscape. Often dressed with lavish drapery and window shades to keep out the glare of summer sun or propped open to let breezes circulate, these lovely portals can let in more heat or cold than you want.
HISTORIC HOMES NEED CAREFUL EXAMINATION WHEN YOU WANT TO INCREASE ENERGY EFFICIENCY.
There comes a point in time when nearly every Victorian homeowner has to address the efficiency of their windows.
ASSESSING THE SITUATION
There comes a point in time when nearly every Victorian homeowner has to address the efficiency of their windows. Beautiful or not, there’s much to be said for preventing winter drafts and summer sun.
True, if you want to keep your historic windows, you can weather-strip and paint the wood to prevent rot. On top of that, adding historic storm windows can offer protection in cold climates. But even with these precautions, you may end up with warped, broken window frames, cracked glass or windows that refuse to open. As a result, your energy bill can be 10 or 20 percent higher because of your drafty windows. If this is the case, you can reduce both your cooling and heating bills by installing more energy-efficient windows.
Another instance when you may need to replace your windows is if your home has survived a storm. Hurricanes, tornados and high winds wreak havoc on historic homes. Victorian houses have been around for more than a century, and they’ve seen their share of climate change—much more than the modern home down the block.
DECIDING TO ACT
If and when you decide it’s time to get new windows, you may also want a change in appearance and function. You might be in the process of building a new backyard deck and decide to replace your back door with a pair of elegant French doors. Or you might want an extra bank of windows to brighten your dark kitchen.
Some companies, such as Marvin Windows and Doors, understand the desires of those who own historic homes. Aesthetic preservation and energy efficiency should be the goal. By pumping insulating gases, such as argon or a krypton/argon/air blend, between panes of glass, Marvin achieves a high level of efficiency in windows.
Whether you opt to keep your original windows with all their Victorian-era charm or replace them with new models is your decision. There are certainly good reasons for both methods. What’s important is that you’re happy in your turn-of-thecentury home and that you can keep it warm when the winter winds blow.