You probably know that windows can enhance the appearance of a home, but do you realize that high-quality windows are also multitasking workhorses that can help save you money? High-quality replacement windows provide our homes with natural indoor light, dampen outside noises, protect our belongings from the elements, give us a view of the outdoors, and save us money by guarding the inside of our homes against the sun’s heat in the summer, UV rays, and heat loss in the winter. We tend to take our home’s windows for granted, but to avoid issues that can quickly turn into unnecessary expenses, we need to make sure the windows are in good working order. Unfortunately, unless someone accidentally throws a baseball through the glass, most homeowners rarely pay much attention to the condition of their windows at all. Ignoring the health of your windows is a crucial mistake because it can wind up, costing you a significant amount of money for home repairs and increased energy bills.
Warning Signs That Your Windows Need to Be Replaced
To save money and avoid significant home repair projects, you need to inspect your windows regularly and identify signs that you may need to have them replaced:
Visible Window Damage
Soft, chipped or cracked window frames are a good sign of rot, decay, or water damage. Excess moisture leaking through gaps in your warped or damaged window frames or cracked panes causes your the frames to warp and allows water to seep in so that rot can grow and quickly spread along with the frames and to other areas of your home. Mold and wood to rot will cause structural and aesthetic damage throughout your home. If there is condensation, moisture, or fog build-up between the glass panes of your windows, the windows seal is broken, thus causing the windows to leak. Leaky windows are not energy-efficient and can cause an increase in your home’s cooling and heating costs. You can head-off damage to your home and help lower your energy costs by having double-pane replacement windows installed. Most double-pane windows are insulated by a thin layer of argon gas between the window panes, which reduces heat loss through your windows.
Difficult Window Operation
All of your home’s windows should be easy to open, close and lock. Improper installation, as well as rot, rust, or swelling of the window frame can cause a window to become difficult to operate. You may find that your wood windows have been painted shut, rendering them inoperable. Windows that don’t close and lock properly not only expose your home to energy loss but also pose a security threat.
Lack of Soundproofing
Older, poorly made, or improperly installed windows provide very little noise insulation. If you can hear a lot of sound coming from your neighborhood while inside your home, you might consider having replacement windows installed. High-quality replacement windows can drastically reduce the level of outside noise you can hear from inside your home while saving you money on your energy bills. Although windows aren’t the only way outside sounds can enter your home, energy-efficient, dual-pane vinyl windows insulated with argon gas can reduce outside noise by 30–40% over single-pane windows. Additional “sound package” options that are offered by many manufacturers can provide a further 50–60% noise reduction over the soundproofing provided by dual-pane windows. Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings help you determine how well a window prevents noise from entering your home. The higher the STC, the better the window insulates your home against outside noise. For each 10-point increase in the STC rating, the perceived noise rating is reduced by half. While the typical STC rating of a single-pane window is between only 18 and 20, the usual range of STC rating for a double-pane energy-efficient window is between 28 and 35.
High Energy Bills
If your home is often drafty, your energy bills are high, or you’ve noticed an unusual increase in your home energy costs, chances are your windows aren’t energy efficient. It’s especially likely that your windows aren’t energy efficient if you currently have single-pane windows in your home. Windows that let in drafts and cold air even when they are closed or that feel hot to the touch in the summer and cold to the touch in the winter are not doing a good job blocking UV rays or maintaining a consistent and comfortable temperature inside your home. You might notice fading of your furniture and flooring, and that you feel cold near your windows in the winter and warmer near your windows in the summer. Having your inefficient windows and patio doors replaced with energy-efficient, dual-pane models can save you a significant amount of money and reduce your carbon footprint. Energy-efficient windows help your home maintain a consistent and comfortable temperature all year long; the interior glass of an energy-efficient window actually stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. According to a 2015 study from D+R International in support of ENERGY STAR, the average annual heating and cooling savings you can expect when replacing single-pane windows is $319 (31%), or $108 (14%) when replacing double-pane windows. The same study found that replacing single-pane windows with energy-efficient double-pane windows results in a reduction of between 1,006 and 6,205 pounds of carbon dioxide (equal to between 51 and 317 gallons of gasoline), and between 246 and 2,001 pounds of carbon dioxide (equal to between 13 and 102 gallons of gasoline) when replacing double-pane windows. Energy-efficient windows can also reduce fading of your flooring, drapes, furniture and photographs by up to 75%* through the use of low-emissivity (Low-E) coatings on the glass that reduce ultraviolet (UV) light while allowing ample visible light to pass through.
Save Money and Stay Comfortable
Keeping tabs on the condition of your home’s windows is an essential step in preventing moisture damage to your home, keeping your house secure, and insulating your home against outside noises and temperature fluctuations. Be on the lookout for signs of leaking windows, such as window frame rot, warped frames and condensation on your between window panes. Also check for warped or improperly installed windows by making sure your windows open, close and lock properly. Windows that aren’t doing an excellent job of reducing the level of outside noise you can hear from inside your home are often culprits in allowing hot and cold air to flow through the windows unsought. If you detect any of these issues, or if your house is drafty, your furniture and flooring are fading, or your energy bills are unreasonably high, consider having your windows replaced by an experienced, reputable window company. High-quality, energy-efficient replacement windows can save you a significant amount of money on your home energy bills, provide you with year-round comfort, and increase the value of your home.
*Source: Residential Windows. Carmody, Selkowitz, Arasteh, and Heschong. 2007