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New windows shed light on making home comfortable

​Good windows can significantly add to the comfort of a house. They can help keep out summer heat, winter cold and in my case, noise of my neighbour’s basement grunge band. Pretty ones can add an incredible aesthetic appeal to both the interior and exterior of a house. Even my pre-war fixer that hadn’t been painted since televisions only came in black and white looked better with its new ENERGY STAR® double-pane windows.

Single pane windows a pain

The old windows in my little house were bad. Very bad. A motley mix of styles and decades, the boarded up ones in the basement were wood frame single pane awning style, original to the house. The main floor had Jalousie louver windows from the 50’s, the kind typically found in tropical beach cabanas. Then there were the aluminum sliders with paper thin panes and wood frame inoperable windows that vibrated when the dogs barked.

I survived 10 months and three seasons—a mild winter, hot summer and freakingly freezing fall—with these old windows. I know they’re just windows, but every day I’d come home from work and breathe a sigh of relief that the living room window hadn’t been inadvertently smashed by one of my territorial dogs barking, paws on pane, at the mailman. At night, the frame of my aluminum bedroom window rattled and the glass would shimmy and shake. The dogs would growl and my heart would flutter every time the noise jolted me from a deep sleep. And that summer? It was so hot in my south facing bedroom and dining room, I packed up and found relief on the cold concrete floor of the basement.

I can see clearly now, the pane is gone

I was not only replacing, but also enlarging the living room window and having the rest of the main floor ones returned to their original size and style. Between 1950 and 1970, someone must’ve decided that small, cave like windows were popular . . .  like sunshine ceilings and bathroom carpeting.

After a month long wait, the installers showed up with my custom order one unseasonably icy cold day in early November. When they were done two days later, my house was transformed!  The drafts were gone, the house just felt more solid and no longer did I fear that a brisk westerly wind would blow it over. And it was so quiet. No more waking up at 2 a.m. from trains rumbling in the distance or from my neighbour’s partying.

The savings? My sanity.

While the data on the energy savings as a result of upgrading to ENERGY STAR® windows suggests only a minimal reduction in home heating energy use, the improvement to my comfort and well-being made up for it. The windows were the biggest single investment I made on my home; more than my entire kitchen gut and renovation. But they were worth every penny.

The before and after of my kitchen and bathroom windows. Both windows were enlarged back to their original sizes.


Living room window before and after. See how close it is to the mailbox? With my new double-pane ENERGY STAR® operable windows, the mailman no longer has to fear for his life and my dogs can bark at the window all day long with no risk of noise complaints from the neighbours.


By far, the home’s biggest transformation was to the back of the house.  The before photo is how it looked when I purchased the house. The windows were the first project, followed by replacing some of the worn cedar siding, a paint job and a new deck.


I turned one of the house’s original windows from the basement into a coatrack for my entry.