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Community and Q&A

Piecemealing an energy retrofit

jay443 | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I live in Minnesota in a 1960s, single-story ranch house.  Since we moved in 4 years ago, I’ve been working on ways to improve my energy efficiency and comfort. I’ve already insulated and completely sealed the crawlspace, sealed the attic, and insulated the attic to R-60 with blown cellulose. This year I’d like to replace the original, single-pane, rotting wood windows with fiberglass, triple-glazed windows. Next year I’d like to replace the original Masonite siding and add rigid foam board insulation when I reside. 

Given that I know that I want to re-side within the next year, what is the best way to handle the new windows (and patio door) right now? Do I just install them as normal, and when the time comes, they will become “innie” windows? (I’ve read all of the GBA articles on adding foam.) Or is there something that I can do now to make them “outtie” in preparation for the new siding in a year? Or another option? 

Also, there are a few details about retrofitting with rigid foam that I didn’t see mentioned in the articles. For example, it would appear that I need to install new plumbing/outdoor faucets to account for the extra wall width, right? And what do I do about my electrical meter that’s mounted on the house? Call an electrician to move it? 


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Ideally, you will be replacing your windows at the same time that you are installing the exterior rigid foam and the new siding. That way, you can make sure that your window rough openings are properly flashed.

    If you are daunted by the amount of work you face, maybe you can do one orientation of the house at a time. First, do the east side -- windows and siding. If that goes smoothly, you can tackle the north or south side.

    For information on installing windows in walls with exterior rigid foam, see these articles:

    "Installing Windows In a Foam-Sheathed Wall"

    "Window Installation Tips for a Deep Energy Retrofit"

    "Nailing Window Flanges Through Foam"

    You outdoor faucet is called a frostproof sillcock. You may need to purchase a longer frostproof sillcock, or you may simply be able to add a bit of copper tubing or PEX (with couplings) to the supply line leading to the sillcock.

    Contact an electrician to help you remove and reinstall your electricity meter. The electrician may need to contact the local electric utility when this work is performed.

  2. jay443 | | #2

    Thanks Martin.

    I forgot to mention that I have deep eaves on the house, 36'' normally and 24'' on the gable ends. I've looked carefully at the window flashing details. Luckily I only have 3 windows on the gable ends that ever see rain. The other windows have never gotten wet. They weren't even installed with a drip cap at the time and there is no evidence of water damage.

    Follow-up question. It is possible to install doors as "innies" too? I already replaced the original door with a fiberglass door, 2 years ago. I'd prefer to avoid reinstalling if possible. The door is under a deeper eave, 36''.


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