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Factors Affecting the Cost of Replacement Windows

Cristina is a Florida-licensed Realtor. She specializes in residential sales and enjoys writing articles that help buyers and sellers.

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One of the most cost effective home improvements with a ROI is replacing the windows. Several factors affect the cost of replacement windows, such as how many panes the windows have, their hurricane rating, UV rating, and more. It's important to understand what affects the cost of replacement windows when shopping for new ones.

At this point, let me point out that there is a huge difference between replacement windows and new construction windows. Most people opt to replace their old windows with new construction windows. The difference is simple. Replacement windows are just replacements of the glass portion of the window inside the old frames. New construction windows include a new frame. Because the energy efficiency of a window is lost around a frame as well as through the glass and panes, spend a little extra money and go with the new construction windows.

New windows are energy efficient, low maintenance and beautiful.

New windows are energy efficient, low maintenance and beautiful.

Single, Double or Triple Pane

One of the things that affects the cost of replacement windows is whether they are single, double, or triple paned. Single pane windows have a single layer of glass throughout. Double and triple pane windows have two or three layers of glass. Single pane windows are the least expensive but are also the least energy efficient. Double and triple pane windows are more expensive but offer better insulation for your home. The difference in price these day between single and double pane windows is negligible. Go with the energy efficiency. Your electric bill will love you!

Hurricane Rating

Besides better insulation, double and triple pane windows offer better wind and shatter resistance. Double and triple pane windows have a sheet of plastic laminate between the windows which makes them more resistant to shattering if a projectile hits them during a tropical storm, hurricane, tornado or other extreme storm. In hurricane prone areas, windows must be hurricane resistant to wind speeds of 110 mph or higher. Hurricane and shatter-resistant windows, as mentioned below, also can have argon gas between the layers. All of this protection together means greater security for your home. In many cases, it will take a burglar 45 minutes to pound a hammer-sized hole through your window. How many burglars are going to stick around that long to get into your home?

An oversized sash (single hung) window provides an inviting facade for this restaurant.

An oversized sash (single hung) window provides an inviting facade for this restaurant.

U-Factor Affects the Cost of Replacement Windows

The U-factor of a window is its energy efficiency rating, or how well it traps heat (or cold) inside the home. The higher a window’s resistance to heat loss the more energy efficient it is and the more it will insulate your home. The energy efficiency of windows has become something that consumers look at in this age of green living. Homeowners in cold climates want to keep warm air in their homes in the winter, and homeowners in warm climates want to keep cool air in their homes in the summer.

The National Fenestrations Rating Council rates the efficiency of most windows with a numeric value, usually between 0.20 and 1.20. The lower the rating the more energy efficient the window.

Material of the Frame

The frame of the windows also affects the cost of replacement windows. It will be made of vinyl or PVC, aluminum or wood. New windows are nearly always constructed of vinyl or aluminum because these materials are more popular with consumers due to their lower cost and maintenance. Of the three choices, aluminum is the least expensive and wood is the most expensive. If you are replacing windows in an historic home, you may want to go with the wood frame windows to keep the original look of the home.

A typical single hung window with a wood frame.

A typical single hung window with a wood frame.

UV

As mentioned above, double and triple pane windows also can have argon gas between the layers of glass. Besides adding to the security of these thick windows, the argon lowers the amount of UV that can pass through the window. These kinds of windows are said to be “low E”.

Window Style

The majority of new windows are single-hung. On these windows only the bottom of the window slides up and down. Windows on which the top and bottom slide open are called double-hung. Single-hung windows are the least expensive of all windows. Other styles include awning, casement, crank and jalousie windows. These are all less popular and not made by as many window companies. In many instances they have to be custom made making them which increases replacement window prices. The homeowner of an older or historic home may choose one of these other styles to keep the original character of the home intact.

Size Affects the Cost of Replacement Windows

Window sizes have changed over the years. In particular, historic era homes – those from the 1800s or early 1900s – have much larger windows because windows were the only source of light at that time. By contrast, the most common size of windows today is 36” X 60” or 3’ X 5’. Replacing larger windows can get expensive as they often have to be custom made. Homeowners on a budget usually opt to use today’s standard size window by framing the original opening to fit the size of the new window and closing the rest of that original opening.

A typical casement window opens out.  Because all of the window can be open at once, it is an ideal choice of window style for letting lots of outside air into the home.

A typical casement window opens out. Because all of the window can be open at once, it is an ideal choice of window style for letting lots of outside air into the home.

When you first consider replacing your home’s windows, it is important to know your budget. Though many factors will affect the cost of replacement windows, spending a little more for them now can yield savings in electrical costs over the next several years. Understanding all the factors that affect replacement window prices and determining what you need in a window will help you choose the best, most cost-effective windows for your home.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Cristina Vanthul

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