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Community and Q&A

Durable and efficient basement windows

Elizabeth Newman | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

We are building a new basement under the ell and replacing windows in the existing basement of the main block of a very old timber frame house. Each part has 2-3 basement windows. Upstairs, we have stripped the exterior down to the frame and sheathing for repairs and can do a very efficient wall assembly, although we are keeping and adding storms to the original windows at the upper floors.

Is it worth the effort to do triple-glazed windows in the basement? What would you recommend?

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Replies

  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Elizabeth,
    If you are remodeling your house or implementing energy retrofit measures, the best way to deal with basement windows, in my opinion, is to eliminate them. Fill up the openings with bricks and mortar or concrete blocks. Then install a thick layer of rigid foam or spray foam, either on the interior or the exterior, to match the insulation on the rest of the basement wall.

    Of course, if you have finished living space in your basement, and you spend a significant amount of time down there, or if you have a basement bedroom that requires emergency egress, then of course a basement window makes sense. In that case, you may want to spring for a triple-glazed basement window if you live in a very cold climate.

  2. Keith H | | #2

    Elizabeth,

    I'm a DIYer who is going through a basement energy remodel.

    Are your basement walls insulated? Exposed? Part of the conditioned house? You can get decent energy star level U-factor windows (double paned, low e, argon) for very little money. They are cheap windows but then we are talking about basement windows. I found the reduction in U-factor (a good thing) compared to the price of the window an iffy energy spend for triple paned windows. The upgrade to a window with a better insulated spacer might be as valuable.

    I asked about your insulation on your basement walls because it might be a much better expenditure of funds to insulate your basement walls and/or control the introduction of humidity into the basement than to spend more on the windows for triple pane.

    Just my opinion.

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