Single glazed old windows are notoriously less energy efficient than new ones. While new double-glazed windows will save on energy bills in the long run, ripping out old windows in a period property may actually decrease the value of the house. So when it comes to upgrading old windows, the homeowner has to be careful and consider all the options available.
Before any building work is considered, it is important that the homeowner checked whether there are any restrictions are in place. Usually planning consent is only needed for listed buildings and properties in conservation areas, especially those in principal elevation. It is unlikely that the conservation officers will give permission if the work will mar the look of the area or the property.
All is not lost, however. Often old windows have craftsmanship that was built to last. In many cases, these windows were made out of lumber which last a long time if they had been properly maintained. They can also be easily repaired in parts instead of replacing the whole unit. Refurbishing instead of replacing these windows is the most sensible option and will achieve great thermal insulation.
To tackle the single glazing issue, homeowners can install secondary glazing which opens on the inside. This will not mar the exterior look yet still give better heat retaining properties and will soundproof the room from outside noise. New thinner double-glazing is also now available although the cost can be a little steep. Besides the inefficient single glazing, the only other issue in old windows is lead paint used for the woodwork, even those as late at the1960s. Care must be taken that the paint is not ingested when sanding or rubbing down the wood.
While refurbishing old windows can be done by skilled DIY enthusiasts, it is advisable that such work to be done by professionals. There are building regulations that needs to be satisfied such as permitted heat loss standards, ventilation requirements and minimum opening area for fire escape. Using FENSA approved contractors will ensure that the job is done and certified to building regulations standards.