By Alistair McHarg
Our 18th-century house doesn’t have a straight line—after weathering for more than 250 years, it’s completely cattywampus. Living here is like walking on the deck of a ship. But my wife, Ellin, and I didn’t want to do anything that would ruin the historic integrity of the pre-Revolutionary War, center-chimney colonial that once served as a tavern and schoolhouse in Sandown, New Hampshire. The large center room, which we use as our dining room, was surely the hub during tavern days.
When it came to addressing the drafty but still-beautiful old windows, we took care. Historic preservationists had told us that a sure way to hurt the value of this unique structure was to replace the windows. But the exterior storms that had once protected the prime sash were falling apart, and they didn’t particularly fit the out-of-square old windows.
We heard about Indow, a small company that started in Portland, Oregon, who make thermal insert panels for the interior side of the windows. Edged in silicone, they simply press into place. We retrofitted them into all of the first-floor windows.
We noticed changes right away. First, there were no more drafts—it was quite remarkable. Next, rooms keep their warmth longer, so the furnace stays quiet for longer stretches. Mostly, the house just feels cozier.
We weren’t prepared for how quiet the house would be with interior glazing. The road outside, once a dirt path, is now busy Route 121A. The reduction in sound is amazing.
Several companies make interior “storm windows” or glazing panels suitable for retrofitting to even non-standard and out-of-square windows. Indow, used in this house, offers acrylic glazing, which is lightweight and non-yellowing. Other companies offer glass, polycarbonate, or acrylic. Options include low-E glass, UV-filtering glazing, and acoustic glazing.