Replacement Windows: Choosing the Right Type

 

So you’re considering replacing your old windows with new energy-efficient windows? Smart move! As the U.S. Department of Energy points out, energy loss from windows make up 25%–30% of your home’s heating and cooling costs. That means money spent on new windows is money saved on your bills.

 

What kind of savings can you expect? Well, just by replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows, the Department of Energy estimates that you’ll save $126 to $465 per year. What if your windows are already double-pane, but are not energy-efficient models? Replacing them could still net you $27 to $111 per year.

 

Where you live also makes a difference—warmer areas like Hampton Roads will see roughly $100 more savings per year on replacement windows than in colder regions. But the savings don’t just stop with your energy bills. When it’s time to sell, you’ll get a lot of your window investment back. The National Association of Realtors’ Remodeling Impact Report shows that you can recoup 80% of the window replacement cost in added home value. And decreased energy use doesn't only save you money—it also shows you’re burning less fossil fuel and creating fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Aside from energy, there are other benefits to replacing your windows. As old windows and the seals around them degrade, water will start to get in. That moisture can create serious problems, from mold to drywall damage to the perfect environment for Hampton Roads’ nemesis: termites. And then there’s the sheer visual appeal of crisp, shining new windows to make your house look amazing.

 

So how can you select the best window models for the price? Some considerations:

 

Don’t cheap out

If you’re already making this big investment, why negate many of the benefits of replacing your windows by going cheap? You’ll get inferior results that are more likely to fail. Companies you see advertising $199 windows are cutting corners, selling cheap windows and hiring shoddy installers… it’s the only way to still make a profit at this price point. And whatever you save initially will be lost down the road (sometimes in only a few months!) when these windows start to leak in the rain or bow in the sun, and you have to hire a repair company because the original installer went out of business, or tells you the problem isn’t their fault.

 

 

Quality Built Exteriors gets many calls per month to come repair windows that previous contractors installed incorrectly. Few window companies have the expertise to diagnose these kinds of problems (such as find the source of water entry around the window, invisible to the homeowner).

 

“From what I’ve seen, 95% of window installations in Hampton Roads are done wrong,” said Mike Reedy, owner of Quality Built Exteriors. “I’ve done this long enough that I’ve seen everything, and we can fix small and big mistakes. For OUR jobs, we get it right the first time, after seeing so many ways it can be done wrong. We rarely get called back out for a repair on our own work because we don’t make these mistakes.”

 

 

Vinyl-frame windows are the ideal material

Window frame materials can be vinyl, wood, aluminum or composite. Wood windows will eventually rot, need lots of maintenance and often get stuck when they heat and expand. Composite windows shift and fray easily, something Quality Built has seen a lot firsthand. Aluminum is generally only used in commercial buildings. And finally there’s vinyl windows, which give the most bang for your buck. Vinyl windows are great insulators and virtually maintenance free. You can choose from many color options, and rest assured the window will last for decades.

 

A tip from Mike: “Make sure the vinyl windows you purchase are welded at the corners, which is standard with our windows.” These fusion-welded edges are heated, pressed together and sealed, which makes the window frame and sashes stronger. It also creates an impervious seal, unlike frames that are jointed by screws or brackets, which is more likely to let water and air through.

 

 

Double-paned windows are a must

Double-pane windows not only insulate your home from outdoor noise, but they double down on energy loss. Also known as “dual pane windows,” the two panes of glass are separated by a space filled with air. The air traps summer heat and winter cold, forming a barrier from it entering your home.

 

 

Choose windows that are gas-filled

You might be thinking, my spouse has that covered! But a gas fill between your double glass panes makes a huge impact. Typically argon (like Quality Built’s windows) or krypton, the gas improves insulation and slows heat transfer. You might be thinking, “Wait, oxygen is already a gas, so why can’t regular air fill the space?” Because the air around you contains moisture, and that moisture will cause condensation when trapped between panes of glass, making the window cloudy.

 

 

Go with low-e glass

Low-emissivity, or “low-e,” is the window’s ability to reflect, rather than absorb, heat. It reduces how much infrared and ultraviolet light can get into your home, without reducing the amount of visible light that shines in. Unlike a pair of sunglasses, which make everything look darker when you peer through them, low-e glass is no different to the eye. This effect is achieved through a microscopically thin metallic substance that coats the glass, reflecting the heat.

 

 

Financially plan for this investment

Replacement windows are a major home improvement, right up there with a new roof and siding replacement. It’s a good idea to save up for a while first, or you can also finance new windows using Quality Built Exterior’s lending program. What cost range should you expect? Nationally, installing all-new vinyl windows in the average 2,450-square-foot house will run about $19,000, according to The National Association of Realtors.

 

However, you can find higher-quality vinyl windows at a more competitive price at Quality Built Exteriors, thanks to their factory-direct pricing. Mike knows what works best, and he gets windows custom-made to fit the needs of Hampton Roads homes. Even though they are better windows than what competitors are selling, the price is often better because of his relationship with the window maker… and then the company passes its savings to you, the customer.

 

“People often don’t realize just how good a window they’re getting from us,” Mike said. “Condo associations often call us, saying ours was the only window that didn’t leak! I had one place with 60 condos on the water, going up three stories, and when a tropical storm hit, water came through everyone’s windows except the two units we had done. So now they hire use to install all their window replacements! Our stuff stands up to high winds and other typical issues in Hampton Roads. I never have to worry about my customers’ homes in bad weather.”

 

Window replacement is one of the best home remodeling projects for return on investment. Give Quality Built Exteriors a call to schedule your free estimate!

 

 

 

Melissa James is "The Exterior Enthusiast" for Quality Built Exteriors. She has written about home decorating and improvement since 2005.

 

Learn more. Got a question or comment for Melissa? Reach her at exteriorenthusiast@gmail.com

 

 

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