Monday, February 18, 2013

Home: Zone 0 - Energy Efficient Windows

Last year, on February 17th, we woke up early, let in a team of men from Rescom Exteriors to work on our house, and a few hours later, all of our windows were replaced.

Let me give you an idea of what we were working with: our home was built by hand, by a man who clearly loved it very much. He worked on his home with the leftovers of other projects, and this was reflected in the several different kinds of windows we had throughout our house.  All different styles, all metal framed, some with screens, some without, many had broken ropes and all were in need of scraping and painting.  Our main large front pane didn't open at all, so the air from the south never cooled the house in the evening. The old windows were not secure, and many had been locked for the 10 years since we moved in.

Here are some of the "before" pictures of the windows - as I look at them again, I remember the rust. We also had metal blinds in most of the windows and plastic mini blinds in the rest.  Both of which are horrible to keep clean.

So the team of men came in and took out all the windows...thankfully, it was a mild February day!

And the end result is beautiful!

This window was one pane - and now opens!
The center window is now a frosted bathroom window


It has been a year since we had the windows installed.  We haven't used our furnace or radiators for two winters, and the wood we've used for the wood stove this year was around $500 ~ one month of heating with gas during the winter months in the past.

For me, the fact that all of the windows can be opened safely, look beautiful and are easy to clean, makes the cost worth it. The windows are tinted and keep out some of the heat in summer, but let in enough light to charge our solar lights we use for night lights and holiday lights.

We didn't need our air conditioners this past summer and were able to cut down quite a bit on electricity because of  good air circulation - especially having the whole front of the house able to open and let air blow through. 

I have read a lot about sustainability and I am seeing a two fold process. One is the changing of ourselves, our requirements, and our interaction with the world around us. The other, is making the changes to the physical around us so we can to simplify the life we have and enjoy it more. 

The windows all do tricks - and can be cleaned easily. They are also tinted and (as in the picture below) don't require any of the metal or plastic dust collecting mini-blinds. This makes a cleaner house and the tapestry-like curtains are more than enough to keep sun out or provide enough privacy at night where needed. Or keep out an early morning sun on a day I want to sleep in!

There are some books on Permaculture that look at the home as being Zone 0 - the primary place you live and spend your time ~ where you eat, sleep, and do the bulk of your activities. This change in our physical house has changed our interaction with our whole property. We are very near to our neighbors, and now we can let the air in on one side, and completely block out the noise and smells from another neighbor. We live in a refuge in the city, worth any amount of money we would have spent to save energy ~ and in some ways, our sanity. 

A little bit of peace created by our love and interaction with the structure around us...


  1. Hello! I found your blog a few days ago and enjoyed reading through your posts. I quickly added you to my blog list as inspiration because I'm trying to do the same things in my suburban home and garden.

    I'm trying to live more simply and am encouraged to find others who are trying to do the same. Thanks for such great posts. I'll definitely be back to visit. :o)

    tea and simplicity

  2. Hi Sandra!
    I was at your blog yesterday and today and have lots more to read. It's a great blog. I added you to my list too, so I can keep in touch. I really enjoy this online community of people who want to simplify and enjoy life!

    It's great to meet you :)