As we visit and speak with homeowners across Central Texas, we run into a lot of misinformation and confusion when it comes to replacement windows. It can be easy to forget about your windows, but replacing poorly performing windows is one of the best investments you can make when it comes to your home.
6 Considerations When Buying Replacement Windows
In many cases, homeowners look into replacing their home’s windows when they see the true benefits of modern windows. But all too often, when they request an evaluation, the contractor will overwhelm them with pushy sales tactics, buying pressure, and conflicting information.
We understand that a business exists to sell products. But too many companies seem to forget that ultimately, they are there to educate homeowners. In a specialized industry like this, most homeowners do not know the differences between window styles, materials, and options beyond the price tag.
At GreenTex, we believe the best thing we can do is provide a comprehensive education about window replacement. We believe if we don’t close the deal, then we are either not the best fit or we need to get better. We don’t believe the solution is to resort to shady sales tactics and high pressure!
The purpose of this buying guide is to provide homeowners in the Austin area and beyond with the information they need to plan and evaluate their window project.
Replacement Windows Cost vs. Value
By far the biggest cause of confusion, misinformation, and dissatisfaction among homeowners comes from the most important question in almost every project: “How much will it cost?”
Customers frequently ask us to just give them a ballpark estimate for how much each window costs. The problem with this is that each project is very different. One customer might need a couple of small windows replaced; another might need 25.
While it might seem like the true price of replacement windows is a big secret, there are a few red flags you should watch for when considering replacement window companies.
The first is a company advertising one shockingly low price for any size window installed. That may seem like a great deal, but ask yourself this: when was the last time you received great service and a great product, from the company that was the absolute cheapest? In general, but especially when it comes to home improvement, there is a huge difference between cheap prices and fair prices.
On the other end, there are companies that are very secretive of the price, and force you to sit through a long presentation of their premium image, and then quote a price that can be as much as double what it should be. Then they will begin a series of games to lower the price and get you to believe you’re getting a ‘deal’, when that ‘huge discount’ is what the true price should be!
Instead, when you’re searching for a replacement window company, look for one that asks detailed questions about what you need and what your goals are. At GreenTex, we fully assess your needs, wants, and desires, show you the possibilities, and present multiple product options that offer varying levels of efficiency, material choice, and cost.
The number one priority in your consultation and the project as a whole should be the value and benefit this will bring to your home. When window replacement is done properly, it’s one of the best investments you can make, for both your everyday expenses and the value of your home.
Should I Replace or Repair My Windows
Another common question we hear from homeowners is whether their windows should be repaired, rather than completely replaced.
This seems like a simple question, but there is quite a bit to consider. The most important factor is the age of the windows. Depending upon the quality of the windows, but a good rule of thumb for the lifespan of a window is about 20 years. If your windows are either approaching that age or beyond, you should definitely consider replacing them.
If your windows have held up for that long and you are beginning to notice problems with them, replacement is your best choice.
That said, if you are considering repair as an option, have one or more window repair and window replacement professionals inspect the windows and provide you an estimate, for the costs and benefits of each option.
Window Frame Material Comparison
Vinyl Replacement Windows:
Many people have a very negative opinion when it comes to using vinyl in construction and remodeling. This belief mostly stems from the low quality, cheap vinyl windows and siding used by cheap builders during the 1970s.
However, today vinyl windows have come a long way and are one of the best and most cost effective material options. Today’s high quality vinyl windows are made from what is commonly known as ‘virgin vinyl’. This is vinyl that was made exclusively for the window frame, not recycled vinyl from other products.
The problem with recycled vinyl is that vinyl has what is essentially a memory. When it is heated, it will warp into the shape of what it was originally made for. In hot climates like Central Texas especially, summer heat can raise the temperature of recycled vinyl enough to cause windows to warp, resulting in damage to the house and the efficiency of the windows.
High quality virgin vinyl does not warp in the heat, never has to be repainted, and is extremely durable. Vinyl does not transfer heat very well either, making it a fantastic material choice for energy efficiency. There are many color options with vinyl as well, making it one of the more versatile materials in terms of design.
Wood Replacement Windows:
Wood windows provide many of the same benefits that vinyl windows offer. Well-made wood window are very good insulators and offer excellent energy efficiency. They are extremely durable as well, and high quality products can last well over 50 years. Wood is also the most versatile option for color, since it can be painted any color you want.
Wood is, however, prone to warping and cracking over time, which can decrease the performance of the window.
In 2020, the main reason to choose wood over vinyl is if you are looking for premium aesthetics and design options. These premium aspects, however, do come with a premium price. From an investment standpoint, adding wood vs. vinyl windows comes with a significant cost increase without adding significant overall value.
Composite Replacement Windows
Composite windows are something of a blend of vinyl and wood windows. The material itself essentially comes with the same benefits, performance, and durability of quality vinyl windows, with the look and feel of a wood window. This material is typically priced between the cost of vinyl and wood windows.
Composite windows are an excellent choice for homeowners who want the look and feel of a wood window, but don’t want to pay the price for aesthetic purposes with worse performance. Composite windows are a bit of a newer type of window, so quality can vary greatly across manufacturers. A high quality composite window will likely not save too much money over wood.
Aluminum Replacement Windows:
Aluminum windows were extremely popular in the 1970s, and are beginning to make a bit of a comeback today.
The quality and strength of aluminum windows has increased significantly over the years, but it is not the ideal material for every home. Typically, it’s very contemporary, Hollywood Hill style homes that feature modern aluminum windows. The reason is because with the strength of aluminum, the frame can be much smaller. This allows for massive windows that span the façade of the house and provide that sleek aesthetic needed for contemporary architecture.
However, the material does come with some drawbacks. The main problem is that aluminum is a fantastic conductor of heat. This makes it great material for cookware, but not so great for energy efficiency.
Modern aluminum windows also typically come at a higher price point. Coupled with reduced efficiency, aluminum windows are typically not the ideal choice for budget conscious homeowners.
Types of Replacement Window Styles
Double Hung Windows
Double hung windows slide open from top to bottom, and provide your home with a classic and timeless appearance. With double hung windows, opening and closing is a breeze, and they work for any room in your home.
In addition to the classic look and feel double hung windows give any home, you’ll love the ease of operation, durability, and improved energy efficiency of your new windows.
With sliding windows, the horizontal structure and quality materials makes them both easy to slide open and to keep clean. Our sliding windows can be made to match the style of any room.
Casement and Awning Windows
The advantage of casement and awning windows is their ability to increase natural light and air flow. Casement windows come with a crank that can be turned from either side, enabling you to open your window up to 90 degrees.
With awning windows, not only will your home’s architectural and curb appeal get a boost, but you’ll love the improved views and energy efficiency.
Picture windows are a simple, large pane of glass. They allow for additional sunlight to flood into your home, allow for a greater view of the outdoors, and creates the impression of a more spacious room.
Picture windows don’t open and don’t offer moving components, making them a great option for increased security. They also provide increased energy efficiency with their insulation qualities. Homeowners love picture windows for the view they provide and the additional sunlight during the day.
Hurricane and Impact Windows
The majority of windows in Texas are insufficient for extreme weather phenomena. Coastal homeowners suffer the greatest impact, where air is much more humid and loaded with nitrate. Due to the proximity to the ocean, from time to time homeowners also experience gale force winds, and occasionally destructive events like hurricanes. Studies show the stronger the windows and doors on a home, the greater the likelihood of retaining the roof during a hurricane.
Due to consistent severe weather in South Florida, Mimi-Dade County leads the country with residential and commercial building standards for coastal areas. Many coastal areas like the Texas Gulf Coast have adopted those standards, and GreenTex abides by them as well.
Steel Reinforced anti-hurricane windows are designed to withstand the force of a Category 5 hurricane, with winds of more than 150 mph, and the impact of the objects thrown by it. The glass can withstand extreme weather events, or rocks kicked up by a lawnmower, and is extremely secure in the event of a break in.
For more information on Hurricane windows watch THIS VIDEO>>>
Replacement Window Pane Comparison
Single Pane Windows (old)
Single pane windows are rare these days. The name is just about all you need to know, as these were the first type of windows conceived. The pane is one single piece of glass, and they offer the least energy efficiency of all the options.
Double Pane Windows (standard)
A high quality double pane window today is typically two panes of glass with a spacer in-between. This space is often filled with Argon gas, to reduce heat transfer between the panes of glass. Another common feature is glass coated with Low-E, which reflect UV rays and protects the home from excess heat and faded floors and furniture caused by sunlight.
Triple Pane Windows (premium)
The latest innovation in replacement window pane technology was pretty predictable, Triple Pane! Triple pane windows offer a higher level of protection than double pane, but they are more common in colder climates.
Triple pane windows are a good investment in a warmer climate like Central Texas if you are planning to stay in the home for at least 20-25 years, as that is how long it will take for the energy savings to equal the premium cost that comes with the extra pane of glass.
Another consideration with window panes is the weight of triple pane windows. They are significantly heavier than their double and single pane counterparts, so be sure your home can support the added weight.
Low-Emissivity Coatings (Low-E)
If you’ve ever noticed a window that looked like it had reflective glass, it likely had a Low-E coating on the glass pane. Low-emissivity coatings are an extremely thin layer of metal oxide that controls the amount of thermal heat that is allowed to pass through the pane of the window. According to the United States Department of Energy, Low-E coatings reduce energy loss by as much as 50%!
Argon Gas Filled Pane
Another common energy efficient upgrade you might see is Argon gas in the glass pane. In these windows, you’ll see a spacer between the two or three panes of glass, and inside that gap is where the gas is. Because Argon is more dense than air, it does a much better job of insulating your home than a regular window without the gas.
Replacement Windows Return on Investment
Replacing the old windows in your home with high quality, energy efficient windows is an excellent investment, resulting in value and savings from multiple factors. The easiest way to break down the ROI on replacement windows is with an example. In this case, we are going to use the most common project we do, a 20-30 year old home with original windows, and a $300 per month utility bill.
Energy Cost Savings
While we are starting with the current $300 per month utility bill, energy costs rise, on average, about 7% each year. That means in 10 years, assuming the home’s efficiency does not get any better or worse, that monthly utility bill will be nearly $540 per month, and a total energy cost of $49,000 over 10 years!
Installing high quality, energy efficient windows comes with average energy savings of over 30%! That means if our example family replaced their windows today, next month’s utility bill would be $210, in 10 years it will be $375, and the total energy cost over 10 years drops to just under $34,000!
Cost of the Project
Unfortunately there is no one price we can assign to a window replacement project. We can say that for a project replacing all windows in the home, our typical project cost will range from $10,000-$20,000. For our example, we will split the difference and assume this family is spending $15,000 to replace all of their windows.
Added Value to the Home
High quality replacement windows come with an average added home value of 76% of the project cost upon resale. So if our example family stays in the house for those 10 years, and then decides to sell the house, the new windows add $11,000 to the home’s value!
Total Energy Savings: $15,000!
Project Cost: $15,000
Added Home Value: $11,000
Total Return on Investment
Energy Savings: $20,000
Added Home Value: $11,000
Cost of Window Replacement: $15,000
Hopefully you found this breakdown of buying windows in 2020 helpful and informative! If you are considering window, siding, or door replacement in the Austin and Central Texas area, give GreenTex a call and let us come out and give you a Free Design Consultation and Project Evaluation!