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6 Things to Know Before Replacing Your Residential Windows

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You’ve likely heard the expression “The eyes are the window to the soul.” In the home improvement realm, we’re going to rearrange that a little: “The windows are the eyes of your home’s soul.”

Granted, we might be stretching it with the mixed metaphors but think about it: Windows do offer a glimpse into what makes your home special. They allow in sunlight and make your living space brighter. They give your home’s inhabitants a view of the outside world. They protect your family from the elements but still let the breeze and fresh air inside. Without windows, a home is just four walls and a roof.

With this point of view in mind, residential window replacement takes on a little bit of added urgency. Window styles come into play, as do cost, financing, energy considerations, contractor expertise, and more. Here are six things to know before you undertake a residential window replacement:

1. Materials

One of the most important considerations you will encounter with residential window replacement is what material you want your new windows to be. Popular options today include vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum, wood, and composite (wood and sand). The various window styles each come with their own costs, energy advantages, upkeep requirements, and other features that will factor into your final decision. You may even want to upgrade, for example, from a double-hung window to a picture window or from a bay window to a bow window. The options are numerous, and you should take care in avoiding the attitude that you must get the same window you had last time. Do your homework, discuss with a quality contractor which styles might work best for your home and your budget, and go from there.

2. Energy efficiency

If your home is older, your windows likely are a single pane of glass and maybe a screen—without any thought put into how much heat escapes during the winter or how much cool air seeps out in the summer. If you are taking the big step of a residential window replacement, then you should factor energy efficiency into your decision. Modern window styles can save hundreds of dollars per year on energy bills over single-pane windows; even older double-pane windows can be replaced with more efficient options. For people who want a greener home or just want to save some money (or both), energy efficiency should be top of mind.

3. Cost savings

On top of lower energy bills, residential window replacement offers other cost savings when approached diligently. One example is volume: Replacing just a couple windows on one side of the house will cost more per window than replacing all the old windows in your home. Or your choice of window style might result in less upkeep (painting, repairs, and so on) and a longer lifespan of the window, thus producing long-term savings. When you approach residential window replacement as an investment rather than an expense, you will better appreciate the money saved by your decision.

4. Panes and coatings

Single panes are practically an antiquated window technology—they aren’t energy-efficient and don’t last as long as double- and triple-paned windows do. More panes also help with noise reduction and keeping out UV rays, as well as with insulation and upkeep. Furthermore, special coatings applied to the panes of a window’s glass can deliver benefits as well, including keeping the sun’s heat from entering your home (while still allowing sunlight in).

5. Home value

When we said new windows should be viewed as an investment, we weren’t kidding—according to Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, vinyl window replacement adds an average $11,281 to a DMV home’s value; for wood windows, it jumps to $13,626. If you intend to sell your home and your windows are falling apart, replacing them will go far in making the house more attractive to potential buyers.

6. DIY vs. professional installation

For serious home improvement believers, there might be a temptation to DIY residential window replacement. Unfortunately, windows are one of the few areas of the home that must be practically perfect—there’s simply too much to consider when properly installing windows. And you don’t want to lose any DIY savings (or end up paying more) because a window fails relatively soon after it is installed. Trust a professional contractor—one with plenty of experience—to replace your windows and replace them right. An expert installation will lead to years of enjoying the view.

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