Basic Replacement Windows vs. Upgraded, Energy Tax Credit Windows


So what’s the big deal?  Seems like every other company offers the “$189” window, installed.  So why would you even consider an upgraded window?

First, in my opinion there is no such thing as a $189.00 window.  There are always the add-ons.  OH, you want grids?  OH, a screen?  Argon Gas? Super Spacer? Color other than white?  And on and on… The average $189 window probably ends up costing a little over $400 each.

Reality, you get what you pay for — to a point.

Replacement windows are priced by size, little ones cost less than big ones.  Windows are measured by the UI – united inch, which is the height plus the width.  60″ tall plus 36″ wide = 96 UI.  When windows get over 100 UI they get more expensive.

I have seen replacement windows, depending on the bells and whistles, advertised anywhere from $179 to $2800, for the same sized opening.  So what should you be looking for in a replacement window?

When builders build houses, traditionally they install the cheapest window possible to fill the opening. A house has to have windows.  Clearly more expensive homes get nicer windows, but the builder never goes over board because often they don’t get paid extra money to recover their costs.  The down side is that the homeowner gets stuck with higher monthly utility bills, faded furniture and carpets and added condensation problems.

Consequently, homeowners end up with less than acceptable windows in terms of energy efficiency and if they were installed incorrectly (just slapped in the hole) you get drafts around the window openings.   Department of Energy stated that 67% of what you pay for energy goes out your doors and windows.   The leaks around contractor windows are said to equal as much energy one entire window being open or missing in the house all the time.  That gets expensive and breezy.

When deciding on which window to buy you should consider a few things.  First go to http://www.efficientwindows.org/selection.cfm and learn more about the most efficient windows for where you live.  Lower Solar Heat Gain is much more important in the South and Southwest than in the Northeast.  This is a great site produced by University of Minnesota.  As an independent source, you can use their system to determine which type of windows are most energy efficient for your area.chad

If you are going to spend the money to replace your windows, why would you buy cheap windows?  You already own cheap windows!  As Dr. Phil says “How’s that working for you?”

In Oklahoma, I recommend the following in window construction:

  • First, buy a window that qualifies for the Federal Energy Tax Credit of up to $1,500.  Nobody else is going to help you pay for your windows.  Buy from a reputable company that has custom built windows, built just for the window openings in your house.
  • Glass Pack should be at least Double Pane, Double Strength, Double Low-E Soft coat Glass.  The space between the glass needs to be filled with Argon Gas and the use of a warm edge “Super Spacer” between the glass panes.  In my opinion, anytime you can see metal between the glass panes, you have a potential problem.  Metal conducts heat and cold – it always has and always will.  It also impacts the potential growth of mold and mildew between the glasses due to added condensation issues.
  • Frame should be 100% virgin vinyl, not reground, recycled material.  The corners should be fusion welded together.  The window operating system should be a constant force power balance system, to allow you to open the window any amount and it will stay there.  No clicks, sticks or other things needed to hold the window open.  No block and pulley, No worm type of mechanism that can get dirty and cause the window to be hard to open in the later years.

In Oklahoma, you should consider purchasing a window with a lower Solar Heat Gain number.  The tax credit requires the number to be .30 or less for the U factor and .30 or less for the SHGC.  In the summer, the hot summer sun blasts through the windows on the West side of your house.  Than increases the temperature inside your house, causing your air conditioner to run longer that it should.  With a Solar Heat Gain of .19 or so, it will further help reduce your high energy bills in the summer and make that room you can’t stand to be in because of the heat to be very comfortable.

Installation of your windows is very important too.  The installers need to be factory trained and certified.  They need to be insured and experienced.  If you buy a cheap window and get it installed properly, you have problems.  If you buy a great window and it is installed improperly, you still got problems.  Windows need to be custom built to fit the opening so the new window fits properly.  Additionally, the sealant used is also very important.  Those $ .99 cent painters caulk that costs $1.69 now just won’t cut it.  I insist my guys use elastomeric sealant that has a 50 year warranty and is flexible up to 300%.  Windows and houses still move.  The average labor and material cost for a properly installed windows is somewhere between $75 and $90 each.  The $179 guys reportedly pay their installers about $25 each window installed.  Do you want it done right?

Bottom line, good quality, energy efficient, energy tax credit windows can save you up to 43% on your energy bills.  If you take that savings and the energy tax credit, new windows will pay for themselves over a period of 3 to 4 years.  Additionally, you will improve the comfort and look inside your home and increase the value of your home when it is time to sell.  Again, I refer you to http://www.efficientwindows.org/selection to compare for yourself.

A reasonable price for a performance, energy efficient vinyl window at or under 100 UI should be around $600 each.  There is no free lunch.  Fram oil filters said it best in their commercial several years ago, “You can pay me now, or pay me later.”   Get it done right the first time and enjoy all of the benefits and eliminate the hassles.

Call Shew’s Top Quality for an in-home estimate.  We will inspect your windows, measure them for pricing and discuss the features and color of windows that best fit your needs.  At Shew’s, we specialize in all types of exterior renovations like Windows, Siding, Roofing, Room Additions, Patio Covers, Carports, etc.  We only use products that have long term or lifetime manufacture warranties.  We guarantee our work and stand behind our installers.  You be happy doing business with Shew’s Top Quality.  www.shewstopquality.com 918-266-7946.

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