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WoW’s Ultimate Guide to Replacing Your Windows

Is it time to replace your windows? The good news is finding beautiful, energy efficient, and affordable replacement windows for your home has never been easier. Whatever the reason for replacing your windows – from reducing energy bills to improving the look of your home  – there are plenty of choices to suit your needs. So what is the bad news? Well, there is no bad news per say, but the reality is with so many choices available it can be overwhelming to wade through all the information and find the best replacement windows for you and your home. That is why we are publishing this article: WoW’s Ultimate Guide to Replacing Your Windows.

This guide will help you to make sense of all your options and what to expect when replacing your windows. You’ll get clarity on things like knowing when it is time to replace your windows, which style and type of replacement windows will suit your home best, what to look for in regards to energy efficiency, how to find a trustworthy home improvement contractor and much more. Let us jump right in!

 

When is it Time to Replace Your Windows?

Are your windows still doing their job or are they on their last leg? Every part of your home has a lifespan and your home’s windows are no exception. How do you determine whether it is time to replace your home’s windows? You should consider replacing your windows if you are experiencing any of the following: 

  1. You have increasing heating and cooling bills.
  2. It is difficult to open and close windows.
  3. Your existing windows are single-pane. 
  4. There is noticeable condensation or fogging between panes. 
  5. Your home feels especially noisy or drafty in the winter and overly warm in the summer. 
  6. There is wood rot on or around your windows.
  7. Your existing windows are difficult and time consuming to maintain. 

You can read more about the signs your windows need replacing here.

 

The Benefits of Replacement Windows 

Replacement windows offer one of the most significant returns on investment of any home improvement project. If chosen properly, installed according to best practices, and carefully maintained, you should not have to replace your windows for a very long time – if at all. New windows offer homeowners substantial benefits, including:

Home Comfort 

Replacement windows offer many advantages over old windows when it comes to keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. Keeping your home comfortable and avoiding drafts in the chilly winter months is important, but did you know Energy Star rated windows also offer significant protection from the sun during the hot summer months? With the appropriate replacement windows, you will dramatically reduce the level of solar heat gain into your home, making it easier and less expensive to keep your home cool on those hot summer days. 

Increased Energy Savings 

Not only does the temperature of your home matter for comfort, but replacing your old windows, especially if they are single panes, could slow the loss of energy from the windows by as much as 10x. Reducing this energy loss will save money with the first energy bill you receive.

Reduction of Outside Noise 

Replacement windows offer added home comfort by eliminating or reducing the transfer of external noise. If your home is far from other homes or busy streets, outside noise might not be an issue, but anyone who lives in a bustling community would appreciate the sound difference. 

 

Popular Replacement Window Types 

Vinyl 

Vinyl windows are by far the most widely used type of replacement windows in part because they offer the highest energy efficiency options of any of the window types along with stylistic options and various price points. Color, grid and hardware choices allow you a few different style options for your home. These high performing windows are also the number one consumer choice because they are virtually maintenance free. Here are some of the pros and cons. 

Pros: 

  • Typically the lowest investment 
  • Best value for increased energy efficiency 
  • Maintenance free 
  • Colors, grid and hardware allow you some style customization

Cons: 

  • Some manufacturers have limited aesthetic options 
  • Lower-end styles may not have the warm look of wood appealing to some homeowners 
  • May not be the best option for historic homes

 

Composite 

Composite windows are a suitable choice for homeowners that appreciate the look of wood windows but do not like the price tag or the time consuming maintenance that they require. Most composite replacement windows are constructed from PVC resin, making them very energy efficient. One of the features that attract homeowners to composite windows is the availability of paintable and stainable indoor wood laminate

Pros:

  • Offers the warmer look of a wood window and a good fit for many historic homes 
  • Very good value for increased energy efficiency 
  • Offered in a range of colors and styles to allow customization
  • Availability of paintable or stainable indoor laminate and veneers 
  • Maintenance free

Cons: 

  • Limited number of manufacturers 
  • Composite windows generally come at a higher investment, although this varies 
  • Limited style options

 

Fiberglass

Fiberglass windows are a great option for many homeowners. Fiberglass replacement windows have the look of wood without the highly involved maintenance natural wood windows require. Because of their high tensile strength, fiberglass windows offer a high structural rating while providing a more slender frame that accommodates more glass and a thinner profile. 

Pros: 

  • Offers the warmer look of a wood window and a good fit for many historic homes 
  • Good value for increased energy efficiency 
  • Maintenance free 
  • Colors, grid and hardware allow you increased style customization 

Cons: 

  • Some manufacturers have limited aesthetic options 
  • Fiberglass windows come at a significantly higher investment 
  • Style options and upgrades come at a premium 
  • Does not offer the top end of energy efficiency 

 

Wood 

Wood windows are the most expensive option available for window replacement. Wood is beautiful and warm with an organic look and feel. On the downside, wood windows are very expensive at the outset and require somewhat expensive and time consuming maintenance. Likewise, many home owners considering replacement windows are doing so because their old wood windows have failed. Wood windows generally have a shorter lifespan, and thus, a shorter warranty period

Pros: 

  • Offers the warm look of wood and a good fit for many historic homes
  • Offer good value for increased energy efficiency 
  • Nice exterior architectural details 
  • Grid and hardware allow you increased style customization 
  • Attractive historically accurate option for many homes

Cons: 

  • Quality wood windows are very expensive 
  • Maintenance is very labor & price intensive 
  • Shorter lifespan and warranty 
  • Color and cladding options are limited

 

Understanding Your Window Style Options

There are many different window styles to maximize the beauty, comfort and energy efficiency of your home. Whether you choose to replace a window in your home with one of the same style or you choose to modify the current window opening to accommodate a new configuration, a qualified contractor will provide you with the benefits and costs of each. 

Some of the most popular types of window styles include double hung and single hung, bay and bow windows, picture windows and sliding windows. You can read more about the different window style options here.

 

Understanding Your Energy Efficiency Options 

A home’s windows will always be the thermal weak point in a wall assembly when compared to the insulated wall materials. However, newer high-tech energy saving options can help you get optimal efficiency which will save you big money on utilities down the road. Below are some upgrades you can make to maximize the energy efficiency of your replacement windows: 

Multiple Panes of Glass 

Double-pane glass filled with inert gas insulates nearly twice as well as single-pane counterparts, making replacing your old single pane glass windows a no-brainer. Triple-pane glass offers the maximum insulation. Triple Pane will increase the overall efficiency of the window unit and decrease the rate of energy loss or U Factor (the measurement of how much energy escapes your house through the glass). However, triple pane glass comes at a premium and varies in cost ranging from $50-$200 per window, depending upon the manufacturer.

Low-E Glass Coatings

Low-Emissivity (Low-E) glass coatings are layers of thermal protection that aid in reflecting summer heat and retaining interior cooling in the summer months and reflecting cool outdoor temperatures and retaining interior warmth in the winter months. Likewise, these Low-E coatings will block UV rays that can contribute to the fading of your home’s soft furnishings such as drapes, curtains, sofas and carpets. 

Argon Filled Glass Panes 

Argon is a natural, inert, colorless, non-toxic gas that is denser than air. When placed between panes of glass, argon adds additional insulation. This feature can further reduce the transfer of heat or cold, making a home significantly more energy-efficient and comfortable. ENERGY STAR Certified Replacement Windows When you select energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines, you can be confident that you will save significantly on your energy bills. 

 

Choosing the Right Replacement Window Contractor 

When replacing your windows, one of the most important parts of the equation is finding the right home improvement contractors. It is important to vet the contractor you choose to replace your windows to make sure the job gets done right the first time. Doing your homework at the outset will save you hours of unnecessary stress and potentially thousands of dollars later. Check out this handy article to help you find a trustworthy replacement window contractor. 

 

Summary

The truth is when chosen carefully and installed properly, you should never have to replace your home’s windows again. Replacement windows offer one of the most substantial returns on investment (ROI) of any home improvement project. According to Remodeling Magazine, the ROI is 70-95% when selling your home. 

Quality replacement windows installed by a reputable and experienced home improvement contractor will offer you significant energy savings, in-home comfort, zero or minimal maintenance and a home that looks beautiful inside and out.

Replacement Windows Buyer's Guide

Topics: Replacement Windows