Is It Time to Replace My Windows? Window Replacement Information for Homes in Maryland and Washington D.C.
Do your windows need to be replaced? That question is a bit more complicated than it seems. They might. But…..they actually might not. Windows are a tricky thing. When people come to Winthorpe asking to have their windows replaced, we actually like to see the existing windows and ask a few questions. The answers to those questions will dictate our recommendation. Here, we’ll discuss those outcomes.
When Windows DO Need To Be Replaced
Are your current windows rotting, falling apart, or no longer able to open/close?
Are you remodeling or renovating your home and the style/look of your windows doesn’t match the style of the renovation?
If the answer to either of these questions is “yes”, then it makes sense to replace your windows.
Typically, we recommend windows with a wood interior with either a vinyl or aluminum clad on the exterior. That gives you a maintenance-free window on the outside, so you don’t have to worry about painting and caulking every few years. And then the wood interior allows you to paint those windows the color of the trim that’s in the house, and you’re not stuck with a particular color.
A lot of times, we will get the wood side pre-painted, which is ideal when the interior trim is a basic color, like white. Then you can always paint it a different color later on. It all depends on your preference. There are some windows that have a coating over them which won’t allow you to repaint, and that’s another option. But others you can get pre-painted with the ability to change the paint as you please down the road.
We typically recommend vinyl-clad windows, as they are a little better than the aluminum-clad. Vinyl-clad doesn’t dent, so it wears a little better. If you have kids and anticipate the occasional soccer ball bouncing against the outside walls, vinyl-clad windows are more durable and will serve you better. But if you’re easier on your windows, aluminum-clad may serve you perfectly well.
When Windows May NOT Need To Be Replaced
Are your current windows in good shape and function properly but they’re single-pane, so you want to replace them with double-pane?
This is one of the most common intentions we hear regarding windows. They open and close properly and look just fine, but you’ve been told by someone (often a window company trying to make a sale) that you can reduce your utility bills by replacing all your single-pane windows with double-pane windows.
Are double-panes more insulated than single-panes? Sure, they are. Will you save energy? Yes. BUT! The energy you’ll save is such a small amount compared to the cost of replacing that window that you’ll never recoup that money.
We have this discussion with people all the time. You may have had a window company out to your home, and they said they’re going to save you half on your utility bill. How are they proving that? Or, even if you do save half on your utility bill, what’s the real return on investment? Say your utility bill runs $120 a month. If you replace all the windows in your house, how much are you spending and how much are you saving? If you spend $20,000 on all new windows and you’re saving $60/month for three months in the summer and three months in the winter, you’re going to have a hard time ever recovering that $20,000 that you just invested.
The good news is there’s a better option for reducing your utility bills. Rather than spending that money on new windows, you can get more bang for your buck by upgrading your insulation. We recommend insulating your attic with spray foam. If your basement is unfinished, we can spray foam the walls and rim joists. Even batt (fiberglass) insulation will greatly reduce your bills, and it costs a bit less than spray foam. Insulating the places in your house where heat and cold seep will make an enormous difference towards stabilizing the interior temperature of the home, which reduces the need to run your HVAC.
It’s a good idea to check other common air-infiltration culprits: outlets, vents, doors, and weather seals that have worn out. Spend the money on fixing those things before investing in windows. It would be such a waste to buy all new windows but still have all these air leaks within the building envelope. If you fix the air leaks and insulate properly, the windows won’t matter.