Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Living Room Breezes and Dining Room Ice, I Needed New Windows
The wind chill was minus 17 degrees (F). My furnace was going full blast. Auxiliary stoves were on in each room and yet the breeze I felt while sitting in the living room was about 5 MPH and there was ice inside the windows in the dining room. Global warming, that so claimed tooth fairy by the Republicans, had created so much moisture at high latitudes that the Northern Jet Stream had been disrupted and had disappeared for the first time in an . . . ever (?). The upper atmosphere system great wall of air flow was no longer blocking the Arctic air from falling down into middle America. It was damn cold. I was damn cold. Wife was damn cold. Even the cats who couldn't stand each other were huddled together. This was unacceptable. New windows came yesterday. There are seventeen double hung windows and four picture windows. They have 7/8" space between panes. The panes are covered in special stuff and there is inert argon gas between the panes. There are air pockets and air space and this and that and they fold in and fold out for cleaning and are made in America to boot. It is cold in Oklahoma today, 38 degrees with a breeze. Walked out into my dining room from my bedroom this morning and it was quiet and warm. Warm! It was warm. First thing you got to know is that I have 14 windows and two doors on the front of my house that faces south. The house was designed in 1916 to allow maximum sunshine into the home during the sun's low angle months of winter and to allow air flow and no sun into the house during the summer. Trouble is there are only three windows that would still open, so there was no summer air flow. In the winter if the sun doesn't shine then it doesn't heat the house through the windows. This design was great in 1916, and was great these days too, on sunny winter days. But now, with the new Acrtic Invasions, it was not so great. When it gets cold, things shrink. The old windows were caulked and such but the extreme cold this year caused them to actually pull apart in places. Just enough to let air through which made them colder and so they shrank even more and then they pulled. . . well, you get the cause and effect. My heating bills and body were casualties of global warming. So we went window shopping. Holy shit Sherlock. To replace the 21 windows on my front and SE and SW corners was going to cost my first born and all her children to the third generation be sold into bondage to pay for it. OK, the replacement windows were going to cost between 1/4th to 2/3rds the original cost of my house when I bought it 33 years ago. Yes, they would save me money on heating and cooling. It would only take between 11 to 25 years for me to break even. After the sticker shock wore off we vowed to go ahead with it. It would cost not less than $8,000 and as much as $22,000. So I delved into the pros, cons, lies, and claims of several estimates and a whole lot of web research. Lesson one, make them vinyl. Lesson two, put some sort of solar shield covering on the window panes. Lesson three, they must be at least double paned. Lesson four, one inch between panes is more than twice as good as one half inch between panes. Lesson five, inert gases between the panes is much better than dead air. Lesson six, weld bonded frames are better than any other kind. Lesson seven, do not let water get behind, under, or around them. Lesson eight, the installer is 80% of the success of a good window. Lesson nine, put no (or very little) money up front. Lesson ten, a large chunk of all the window companies have gone bankrupt or have been absorbed into other companies since the 2008 economic meltdown, so there is really damn little history on a lot of this stuff these days. So, go with the survivors who do have a history. Over all lesson: a good window is needed but a good installer is crucial. First thing I did was blow off the box store/mega store's highest estimate. Second thing I did was try to balance cost to quality to energy savings to good installation. Finally after I figured out I did not really know shit about any of this I went with the very good windows and the installer with the best record and lots and lots of traceable references. Final cost only equalled one third of my house's original cost to me or about 11% of its current evaluation. Did I mention how quiet it is? Did I note how warm it is? Am I happy with it all? I don't do happy. I like my new windows however. One can hope that during the next Arctic blast they won't fall out onto the lawn. We shall see.