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The Value of Storms

Q: "Are storm windows a thing of the past?"

Ask This Old House Crew
Photo by Matt Kalinowski

My family has a two-family brick Colonial-style house built in 1922. The current double-hung windows appear original to the house. I think the storm windows were added in the
'40s. I'm thinking about replacing all 36 windows, but someone told me that window technology these days is so good that storm windows are a thing of the past. Is that true?
— Peter, Brookline, MA


Tom Silva replies: Not even a little bit true. A good storm window will make any window more energy-efficient, whether the window is 80 years old like yours or made using the latest technology. And today's storm windows are so much better than they were just a few years ago, I think you ought to invest some time shopping for them before you even consider taking on the huge and expensive job of replacing the main windows. Believe me, you'll spend a lot less that way.
The best storm you can get will run $200 or $250 for a standard-size window, while a decent primary window costs at least two or three times that much. And that's not even counting the effort and expense of replacing all the interior window trim, which will also have to be done if you replace your windows.
If your existing windows are beyond repair, maybe replacements are the best option. But even then, don't count storm windows out. Compare the cost, energy efficiency, and life spans of storm window and primary window combinations — including storm windows and new single-glazed windows — before you make your decision.


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