Finn Turner | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011
While it might seem like a big upfront investment, replacement windows generally pay off in several ways. New windows help your house look updated and well maintained, which enhances the curb appeal for potential buyers. In the long term, new windows save money on heating and utility costs. According to the government program, Energy Star, the savings can be as much as a 15-percent reduction in your monthly heating and cooling bill. The savings might be even more substantial if you are replacing old and poorly insulated existing windows. There are many variables to consider, but it is possible that in time your replacement windows could pay for themselves with recouped energy costs, depending on how drafty your old windows were, and the type of replacement window selected.
When is it time to replace windows?
Sometimes old windows need to be replaced to match other updates around your home. Other times it just makes sense: if you are replacing the exterior siding, it might be a good time to address the windows, too.
But if your windows are drafty--particularly if you feel warm or cool spots near a window--then it might be time to upgrade to a window with better insulation. Increasing a window's insulation by choosing double-pane or triple-pane windows will also cut down on the amount of noise from outside.
Besides checking for drafts or drastic temperature changes around your windows, a visual inspection of the interior and exterior of the window should also help determine if it is time for a replacement. If paint is cracking or peeling, or if there is visible water damage or drooping caulk seals, then new windows might help prevent more expensive maintenance issues like water damage.
How much does window replacement cost?
The cost of replacing your home's windows can generally be divided into two parts: the cost of the actual window and the cost of installation. Both of these costs have many variables. One of the biggest cost factors is if the entire window frame is in need of replacement or just the sash (the part that moves up and down on a double hung window). Other considerations include the amount of exterior work required to install a new window, the type and style of window, and labor costs in your location.
New windows are available in a variety of materials, but the two most common are vinyl and wood. Again, costs vary dramatically, but as an example, Andersen Windows, a leading window manufacturer, estimates that the price range for a new standard double-hung window can be anywhere between $270 and $2,300.
Some new replacement windows are eligible for tax credits under the Energy Star program. Different windows have different levels of eligibility depending on your geographic location. More information can be found on the Energy Star website or by contacting your local window showroom or dealer.