Find yourself constantly cranking up the heat? Spending evenings in your home under a blanket? There comes a point when enough is enough, and it’s time for replacement windows. Like many home improvements, replacing your windows is a job that many people dread—due to cost, confusion and maybe just the sheer scope of the project.
Finding a New Window That Meets Your Needs (& Budget)
We all want the best-looking, most energy-efficient windows for our homes. But a firm budget has a way of focusing the mind, and will serve you well in determining the window features that are important to you.
The actual dollar return on your window investment depends on many factors including the current insulation level in your home, where you live, how many windows your home has, etc. As you work to align your budget with your features, don’t overlook energy efficiency. That’s because energy efficient windows pay for themselves over time, in the form of monthly savings on your energy bills. Moreover, energy-efficient windows also will make your home feel more comfortable year round. Anticipate selling your home in the near future? Prospective buyers see new energy efficient windows as a big plus!
Also, some states have set energy requirements for replacement windows. If you live in one of those states, you should verify that the windows you are considering meet those regulations. For example, Massachusetts recently mandated that new windows must meet certain energy efficiency standards, making it impossible for homeowners to install windows without low-E (“low thermal emissivity”) glass. Is this glass included? If not, you should request it.
Are there other features that you must have—a certain color, a style or a tilting feature for easy cleaning? Prioritize and decide what features you really need as a baseline. Then, if you have money left over once you get your quotes, you can then add back in some of your nice-to-have’s.
Getting the Best Value on Your New Windows
You know that old expression—you get what you pay for. It’s usually true. While price is an extremely important aspect of any replacement window project, it can also drive what type of company, window and service you should expect. For most homeowners, value is more important than price. You can spend a small fortune on new windows for your home, yet they may not perform any better those that sell for half the price. Even worse, they could be installed improperly. That is why buying replacement windows demands you do your research.
Do some detective work on the companies you are considering. Are they licensed and insured? Are they members in good standing of the local Better Business Bureau? Read their reviews on Angie’s List, and visit their Web sites. Get a sense of their longevity, the warranty you’ll get means nothing if the company is out of business by next year.
Service & Experience Differentiate Handymen from Expert Technicians
You can buy the most energy-efficient, beautiful windows available, but if they’re not installed properly they will perform poorly. Many factors make up a quality window installation, but measuring correctly and sealing properly are by far the most important. A replacement window should fit snugly in the opening, to ensure that you get a good seal. Otherwise, warm air will escape from your home in the gaps around your new windows.
Determine Your Home’s Ideal Mix of Quality, Value & Price
Once you’ve done your homework, you’re ready to get your all-important three quotes. In the home improvement world, three seems to be the magic number. All homeowners want the best value for their money, and multiple estimates facilitate comparisons.
Reputable home improvement companies will provide you with a quote (not an estimate) for most projects. This should be the case for your replacement windows as well. Once you have your three quotes lined up, give them a quick once-over: is the quote from one company significantly more or less expensive than the others? Take a quick look to be sure that there isn’t something missing.
You’re then in a position to dig in and compare your quotes. This is when you have to decide the best mix of price, value, quality and style for yourself, your home and your budget. While the process is generally different for each homeowner, most tend to pay a little more for the peace of mind. They want to know that they are getting good windows, expertly installed, and at a good price.