Windows are one of the more prominent features of your home and replacing them can really update the look of your house. However, new windows are expensive (they can range from $8,000 to $20,000 for an entire home), so here are some things to consider before you take the plunge.
First, if you are hoping to recoup the cost of new windows in energy savings, think again. Replacing old windows will definitely lower your energy bill–an average of about 10% depending on where you live–but it could take decades for these savings to cover the cost of new windows. If you want to lower your energy bill, consider a home energy audit to help you understand where your home is losing energy. That said, new double-pane windows will make your home more comfortable and reduce a lot of maintenance. They will also make your home quieter–a real benefit if you’ve got noisy neighbors or live on a busy street.
Next, consider how long you will be in your home. According to Remodeling magazine, if you replace your windows you will get about 70% of your investment dollar back when you resell your home. Make sure, however, that you chose architecturally appropriate windows for your home, or you may actually detract from your home’s value.
You should also consider replacing windows when you have:
- Wooden windows with rotten or warped frames. Small bits of rot or a rotted sill can usually be inexpensively replaced, but if the frames are rotted, you should consider replacement.
- Fogged double-pane glass (broken seals). Once the seals between the panes are destroyed, it is probably best to replace the window sash. You can sometimes have the window defogged, but the results can be mixed.
- Hard-to-find replacement hardware. If your window manufacture or local dealer doesn’t have replacement parts, you can often find them online, but sometimes a full window replacement is the only option.
Another consideration is the type of windows in your house. If you have an older home with well-made wooden windows, they can often be repaired and refinished relatively inexpensively. This is especially true if you have a historic home, with custom or specialized windows.
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and replace your windows, there are a number of materials from which you can choose. Here are some pros and cons for each type.
- Pros: Inexpensive, durable, no maintenance, good insulator
- Cons: Limited color choices (white, tan), can’t be painted, thicker frames
- Pros: Durable, no maintenance, can be painted
- Cons: More expensive than vinyl
- Pros: Strong, many colors available, can have relatively thin frames
- Cons: Poor insulator, not good for costal climates (will corrode)
- Pros: Attractive, strong, ideal for custom applications and historic homes, good insulator
- Cons: Most expensive, requires ongoing maintenance
Wood-clad Windows (Wood on the inside; vinyl or aluminum on the outside)
- Pros: Inside can be painted or stained, outside is durable, lower maintenance
- Cons: More expensive than wood windows