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new windows not all they're cracked up to be

The Sacramento Bee, full of ads for new homes, window replacements and other signifiers of the area's sprawling suburbs, recently ran this article urging homeowners to keep old windows and work with existing ventilation. Visit the Bee itself to read the whole story.

Matthew Piner's handsomely restored Victorian blends old-world charm and state-of-the-art energy efficiency. The 1903 home, which sits on Capitol Avenue among the so-called M Street mansions, has its original double-hung windows with subtle imperfections such as wavy glass, spirals and bull's-eyes. Instead of ripping out and replacing the windows, Piner weatherstripped them with bronze springs so they would seal tightly, boosting efficiency.

"There's an epidemic of replacing windows going on in Sacramento," said Kathleen Green, a preservationist and member of the Sacramento Old City Association. The group will host a round table Saturday to highlight fruitful energy-saving fixes that preserve a home's distinct and historic features.

Green said replacing old windows with vinyl ones may not reap energy savings and could decrease the value of an older dwelling.

Piner, an architect and owner of Piner Works Design Build Group, said many Sacramento Victorians and bungalows were built with ventilation to take advantage of the Delta breeze.

In his home, transom windows above doors, a feature of many old homes that predate air conditioning, offer an escape hatch for warm air and help air movement.