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Update Your Home While Preserving Its History

By Gates Dearen

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If you live in an older home, chances are your windows are not especially energy-efficient. Is it possible to update your windows without changing the historic appearance of your house? Yes!

When Matt and Karen Carlucci of historic San Marco in Jacksonville, Florida decided to install new windows, they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to keep the traditional look of their older home. Historical preservation provides a visual, tangible link to a city’s past, one that is kept up by the voluntary efforts of homeowners within communities that have been designated as historic districts. By working closely with the experts, the Carlucci's I found many options that not only preserved the historic style they were looking for, but also offered ease of opening and closing, improved heat/cold retention, and lower maintenance efforts.

Video Testimonial from Matt and Karen Carlucci
Matt and Karen’s house had windows with wooden frames, common in older homes. Matt wasn’t sure he and his wife could replace the windows without making the house look more modern, and that was a real concern since, as he puts it, “We have a contributing historical structure in our neighborhood.” Now that he and Karen have replaced their windows, he couldn’t be happier. “We have had some comments [about the improved appearance of the house], but nobody can tell they’re different from the windows we had before, which is what I like because we wanted the windows to have that old historic look.” Whether you are replacing traditional rectangular windows or require custom designs, window specialists can help you find the best products for your specific needs.

Old windows tend to be heavy and “clunky”. Glass was heavier in the time period when many older homes were built, and wood frames are also bulky and can swell and shrink with fluctuations in temperature. If you’ve ever struggled to open a heavy or stuck window, you’ll be thrilled with the easy glide of new windows. As Karen says, “The [original] windows in our home were very heavy, because they were old and wood, and these [new] windows, you literally can raise them with two fingers and lower them.” Over the years, glass technology, like other technologies, has improved, providing greater insulating factors in lighter-weight panes. This combination gives homeowners the best of all worlds. 

When it comes to improved energy efficiency, you’ll see the benefits almost immediately. If you purchase new windows with a high solar coefficient, you’ll reap the greatest benefits in keeping heat and cold out while letting sunlight in. Multi-pane glass adds a layer of argon gas between the panes, increasing energy savings and comfort. Imagine setting your thermostat and reaching your ideal temperature in a half hour or less, compared to the hours it might take with your old windows. You’ll also feel pretty comfortable when you see your reduced electric bills, both in summer and in winter. As Karen Carlucci says of her home’s new windows, “The insulation is phenomenal. There’s no cold air going out [in the summer] or coming in the wintertime, and it made all the difference in the world for insulation and our electric bill.”

Noise reduction is an added benefit of new multi-paned windows. This can be especially important if your home is on a busy road or in a thriving commercial area. Whatever outdoor sounds are going on in your neighborhood, it’s nice to be able to keep them outside when you don’t want to be disturbed. Or maybe you have the opposite intention, to keep your noises inside. If you like to listen to loud music inside your house – or if your child is learning to play the trumpet, for example – you may wish to spare your neighbors. Either way, new windows provide greater soundproofing.

Keeping your house looking its best is important in all areas, but people with homes in historic districts have a special responsibility to maintain the appearance of their homes. Although your windows may not seem like the biggest feature of your house, they will certainly stand out if they don’t look good! Old windows and frames require near-constant maintenance: washing, sanding, painting, etc. As Matt Carlucci says, “A lot of the cost of painting a house, especially an old one like ours, is the windows. We don’t have to do that now, or the casings.” Presenting a beautiful home exterior is so much easier when your windows require only an occasional rinse.

If you have a historic home and have been living with less-than-ideal windows because you didn’t think new windows would fit in with the style and structure of your house, wait no more! Today’s new, improved windows will enhance the look of your home while preserving its historic style. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy a better quality of life through ease of use, decreased window maintenance, lower energy costs and a quieter home. 

In this article I have talked about how you can replace your old windows with new ones that allow you to keep the historic look of your home. I provided the additional benefits of new windows in older homes beyond the ability to preserve the historic style, including ease of use, increased energy efficiency, reduced maintenance, and improved soundproofing. If you have a comment about this article, please feel free to post it below. Also, if you found this article useful, please pass it on.

Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. Owners Dearen and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. They know the products, the industry, the market and what adds great value to a home. Their approach is a somewhat different than others. They strive to match the homeowner with the right windows and doors for their home and budget. They know that home improvements projects can be a hassle. They strive to make the process pleasant with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; and expert, award-wining installers that employ the best practices and who respect your home as if it were their own.

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  1. You got to love how new technology can help preserve historical homes! :D

  2. Nice article. Bring on the smart glass and we'll really be talking a great blend of old meets new.

  3. It's great to know that new windows can compliment and even improve older homes.

  4. It's amazing the curb appeal that replacing the windows on your home can bring.

  5. So nice to get rid of those clunky old windows and save on electric bills too!