The Dream Begins
Some visions take longer to realize than others. Mine started circa 1980 when, still single and with zero home remodeling skills and even less experience, I bought my first house. It was a very small, affordable fixer-upper with good solid bones. The memories of the 1973 oil embargo were still in mind as I decided the first priority was not to improve the shabby kitchen or single bathroom with broken wall and floor tiles, but rather focus on improving the energy performance of the house. My rationale was this one time capital expense would reduce annual heating/cooling costs for as long as I owned it, and would also benefit future owners. With a desk-bound job and very limited funds, I also decided I would take some adult ed courses on “practical skills” — i.e., carpentry, plumbing, drywall, electrical — and do the work myself.
So I did. I bought some tools, attended classes, bought some books, and started tearing into the house!
When I met Lynn, I was in the process of – as she described it – tearing down perfectly serviceable walls to add electrical outlets (hey, the walls were exposed, I hated running extensions everywhere, and I’d just completed the electrical course), replacing the barely effective rockwool insulation batts with fiberglass batts, adding perpendicular 2×6 studs in the attic to put more insulation and still have an attic floor for storage. Still, love blossomed as I continued with my ongoing (Lynn says much too long) energy performance improvement project, leaving much of the house as more a work site than a homesite.
Marriage is the art of compromise, and we were now Mr. & Mrs. With the walls and ceilings reinsulated, I suggested we replace the single pane metal casements windows that radiated cold into the rooms in the winter and hot in the dead of summer. She said sure, but that we would pay someone to install them all at once. OK, I said, but let’s get triple pane windows ’cause they’re much more energy efficient. Deal.
Did I mention that the house we were living in was located in northern Virginia, a fairly moderate climate; most people wouldn’t even think of installing triple pane windows!
So we had Andersen triple pane windows installed. Yes, Andersen actually made triple pane casement windows in the early 80s. We bought a triple pane bay window and sliding door, and used dual-pane double-hung windows with an exterior storm window to get these up to triple pane performance. Neighbors, family (including Lynn), and friends thought I was, well, a little nuts; but at least I was consistent with anyone who tears down perfectly good walls just to add insulation.
We owned that house up until just a few years ago, much of that time as a rental property. When seeking new tenants, we always made the point that heating/cooling costs would be lower due to the house being much tighter. The windows continued to perform admirably, even though they were installed well before low-e glazing and gas-filled technology became common. We sold the house the first day it was on the market at full price when the home resale market was cratering. We were told the new owners were attracted to all the improvements we’d made, including the better insulation and good quality windows. How’s that for how energy improvements can improve the bottom line for resale.