Woke up on the first truly artic-bitter morning post Thanksgiving to find the inside of one of the large picture windows in my living room coated with ice. It was rock-solid at the base, where it covered the sliders; ice crystals obscured the lower glass, spilled over the lip and flecked the sill like snow. I saw my breath and felt a breeze — bitter -5 degree air from the outside making its way in through some pernicious, unseen gap.
Both the storm and inside windows are aluminum, products of a bygone era when architecture took its cues from the travel trailer industry. Mechanically, it’s a guillotine turned sideways. On a good day, it takes a herculean shove to get it sliding, the edges are sharp, and the hand-hold too shallow for a solid grip. Heck, there’s probably asbestos and lead and apples stuffed with razor blades in there somewhere too.
When I bought the house, I banked on an eventual replacement, but I had no idea it would be required this soon.
I’ve always owned old houses, with single-pane windows and old-style, wood storm windows (the kind you swap out for screens in the summer). Alone, they’re not efficient, but together (window plus storm) I believe that they’re not as terrible as the folks selling replacement windows would have us believe. I spent months fixing sash cords, sealing and insulating around the dozens of double-hung windows at my house in Albany, and while I have no definitive proof, the house seemed warmer. What’s more, I like the way old windows look. It hurts my heart to see a vintage house with its character dulled by bland, replacement windows. Sure, one can get cool-looking replacements – solid wood, high-tech windows that look just like the originals – but you can’t afford them. At least, I can’t
My situation now, with this home, is different. I’d be replacing a horrible replacement. No aesthetic aspersions would be cast, at least not on me.
So, after 14 years of naysaying, I bit the bullet, succumbed to the sales pitch and bought replacement windows from Windows America for both picture windows. I went with top-of-the-line triple pane awesomeness, and if they’re as amazing as they seem on paper it could be love. They are due to arrive in a few weeks, before the new year.
I suppose I will miss the intimacy necessitated by the weather inside: cats on my lap and dog at my feet, bogarting the heat of the space heater I keep trained to my spot on the couch. But if that’s the case, I can always open a window.