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The Truth About Windows - Part 1

It is the general opinion of my friends in the contracting industry (and other businesses for that matter) that I am against installing new windows in homes.  It is true that my mantra is “cost effective energy solutions for your home” or in other words, let’s get you the most improvement for your money.  The fact remains that replacing all the windows in your home with quality energy efficient windows is the most expensive way to make your home energy efficient.  Not to mention, that often most homes have bigger issues which replacing the windows would never address.  Both of those statements said……I think installing good quality energy efficient windows is a good idea and in some cases, a no                                                                                              brainer.

If I were to run a blower door in your home and the windows sounded like a pipe organ, all the insulation, knee wall treatments, spray foam, and air sealing wouldn’t fix that.  If your house DID sound like a pipe organ, then those other items would probably still be needed as well.  I actually have a current client that is having all the “other” things done first, because again, that will give them the most comfort improvement for their money and they aren’t ready to make the other investment financially.  One fact remains, their single paned wood framed windows are a disaster.  When they get their finances in order, we will be replacing all the windows with high quality, energy efficient, vinyl, double paned, gas filled, thermal break, low-e replacement windows (that’s a mouthful).  What do all these things mean?  We’ll get to that later.

Notice I keep using the term “quality”.  There are a lot of window manufacturers out there and they don’t all build quality windows.  Also, many of the manufacturers have different grades of windows.  If the term “builder grade” sounds negative to you, that’s because it is.  This is the least expensive item the builder can install regardless of product.  Believe me when I say, unless you had something to do with the building of your home or you live in a very high end home, your house is filled with “builder grade” products.  Also, don’t let the Energy Star label fool you.  There are minimums that have to be met to achieve the Energy Star label, and the key word is “minimums”.  Not to knock Energy Star, but for a few extra dollars per window, you can get a much better performing and attractive window and still get the Energy Star label.  Remember, the key is to get a great window, not a tax rebate.

In part 2 on this subject, I will discuss what components to look for in a window and what each of them means.  I will also discuss the positives and negatives associated with replacement windows.  Until then, remember “don’t throw money at your problems, throw knowledge, it’s a lot cheaper”.

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