Window Watch is the CBA’s project to raise awareness of the importance of historic windows around Britain and of how proper care of them can help to reduce our carbon footprint.
Making houses energy efficient is an important way of decreasing CO2 emissions. With the cost of heating a home rising and increasing concerns about climate change, many householders are seeking ways in which they can improve the energy efficiency of their windows.
Due to common misconceptions and contradictory statistics it is often supposed that new uPVC or hard wood double-glazed windows are the best option for improved energy efficiency. However, double-glazing is not necessarily more cost or energy effective than more traditional windows and changing the material, style and size of windows can have a damaging effect on the character, archaeological interest and historic value of a property.
On this page there are some ideas for making windows energy efficient in a cost effective way whilst maintaining their historical significance and individual beauty.
Window Watch principles:
- Historic windows are essential to the character and significance of the historic environment and they must be preserved.
- Historic windows are varied and valuable; they can be elaborate or rustic, elegant or quirky and they add immeasurably to the beauty of the historic environment. See for yourself on our ‘Window Watch’ flickr pool.
- Older windows can be made energy efficient through a number of simple and cost-effective measures. These include draught proofing, heavy-lined curtains, and secondary glazing.
- Replacing traditional windows with uPVC units is inappropriate on historic buildings and in conservation areas. The CBA supports a recent appeal decision which dismissed the use of uPVC in an Exeter Conservation Area (CA) on the grounds that its “sterile finish…would undermine the building’s contribution to the CA”
What you can do:
- Look around you. Don’t just look through windows, look at them. Windows are some of the most striking design features on historic buildings and they are well worth appreciating. Why not get out a camera and add a picture to our flickr pool?
- Stay informed. English Heritage have just brought out new guidance on energy efficiency and historic buildings, and there is plenty of advice out there on looking after and making the most of historic windows. The list of online resources below is a good place to start.
- Get active. If you own a historic building with traditional windows it is good for both you and the climate to ensure that they are as energy efficient as they can be. Simple steps can make a huge difference, as research by English Heritage has shown. If you are concerned about the windows on a historic building near you the CBA provides advice on getting involved to ensure that they are protected.
A BBC report on thermal imaging research by the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust.
English Heritage’s advice on draught-proofing windows and doors (PDF | 64.3KB).
English Heritage’s advice on secondary glazing for windows (PDF | 70.7KB).
English Heritage guidance on insulating dormer windows (PDF | 56KB).
English Heritage also provides more general guidance on climate change and your home.
Historic Scotland has also produced a guide for homeowners on looking after sash and case windows (PDF | 3.03MB).
Westminster Authority’s 2011 consultation draft, Retrofitting Historic Buildings (PDF | 3.89MB) is a comparative study of cost and carbon cost-effectiveness of various retrofitting procedures.
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