Shopping for new windows is kind of like shopping for a car. It’s a big investment, you may not know a whole lot about exactly what to buy, but you know for sure that you need to replace your old worn-out ones. Here is a list of seven things to consider when shopping for new windows:
- Window configuration and features: Not only do windows come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they also come with lots of different features. Simply matching the new windows to your existing ones is generally a good bet, but features like double hung windows with tilt-in glass sections can give you added functionality inside the original framework.
- Frame materials: Depending on your budget, there is a rather wide selection of materials to choose between. Vinyl and composite windows tend to be popular choices since they neither sweat nor require a lot of maintenance, but aluminum and wood are commonly used as well.
- The U-Factor: The U-Factor tells you just how well the window insulates by reducing the rate of heat transfer. Choose the lowest U-Factor value that fits reasonably within your budget. The lower the value, the better it will insulate the window.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): Like the U-Factor, the SHGC is a measurement of how well a window insulates, or how hot the sun makes the window and then how much of that transfers into your home. SHGC refers to how well the window blocks incoming heat. If you own a house that uses passive solar heat, you should take advantage of this property and go for the highest SHGC number that you can find. Homeowners with more traditional setups will want the lowest number.
- Air Leakage: Drafty windows are often caused by a situation known as air leakage. In the factory, windows are tested for just how much air passes through the joints. The less air leakage, the better. Industry standards require an Air Leakage at or below 0.3 cf-m/ft².
- Visible Transmittance: Because windows are full of neat and precise measures these days, it’s possible to have a window that blocks outside heat while still letting in all that precious light. The visible transmittance is the figure that tells you just how bright your room will be after the window is installed. A higher number means more light in the room.
- Condensation Resistance: Although it’s a much smaller concern than the four performance ratings above, condensation resistance should be taken into consideration. Measured on a scale of 0 to 100, the highest figures resist condensation better than the lower ones.
What Do Windows Cost Anyway?
Window costs vary widely by size, material, insulating factor and how many you need to install. Your local home repair store is a good place to consult when pricing out new windows.
A joint 2017 report from the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry estimated that replacing old windows with new vinyl ones will run a homeowner around $18,975, and about $35,000 for new wood windows.
Considering your return on investment, this data indicates that your money is well-spent. An ROI of 79 percent was recovered for vinyl windows, and 57 percent of the cost of wooden windows. Not a bad ROI should you decide to sell after replacing those windows!