Should I buy new windows?


Although it rarely crosses our minds, windows serve many purposes – they let in sunlight, provide ventilation, and organically heat our homes – life could get pretty dark and stuffy without them. But should you buy new windows? Renovations are often expensive, and the cost of adding new windows can add up, so it worth it? Let’s get into the details.

Should I buy new windows? To help you decide whether you need new windows in your home, here are some indications that your old windows need to go:

  • Your energy bills are high – Inefficient or old windows can allow heat to escape from your home, causing you to use more energy to generate heat, therefore resulting in sky-high energy bills.
  • Your current windows are difficult or impossible to open and close.
  • They are worn out – there are signs of warping or rot on your windows.
  • They are leaking – you notice interior condensation, dampness, or mold growth.
  • They are outdated – you might simply want to modernize the look of your home.
  • You have issues with draft – if cold air is constantly seeping into your space, you may need new windows.

Like any other home renovation, putting in new windows is an expensive nature. However, there are multiple benefits to buying new windows, including saving you money when it comes to energy efficiency, improved home security, and noise reduction. Here are some of the biggest signs that you shouldn’t be putting off buying new windows any longer.

Why you might need new windows

Certain window issues can easily be fixed by a competent DIYer or glazing specialist – there’s no need to replace your entire window unit if the exterior is slightly faded or you have a loose handle. When your current windows do need replacing, however, it’s best to do it as soon as possible so that you don’t run into any issues that could prove to be more costly in the long term. To help you decide whether you need new windows or not, here are some tell-tale signs that it’s time for a replacement.

1. Your energy bills are high

Around 25%-30% of a property’s heat is lost through poorly performing windows. Inefficient or old windows can have a significant impact on your home’s insulation and consequently cause your energy bills. When heat escapes from your home, you are forced to rely on your central heating more to compensate, and the same is true if you use air conditioning. 

You can check to see if the seals around your windows are in good working condition, try next to your windows. If it feels cooler than the rest of the space or the glass is cold to touch, then it’s highly likely that you’re losing energy. According to Energy Star, you can save $125 to $340 a year on energy costs by upgrading to energy-efficient windows, which is a considerable gain in the long term.

2. Your current windows are faulty

When your windows start to stick and become a headache to open and close it is at the very least inconvenient and in the worst-case scenario, can be a safety risk, as windows can be a vital escape route in case of an emergency. 

There are several reasons why windows can become difficult or impossible to open. A common one is if it’s been painted shut. Another reason is a warped frame such as uPVC windows which can expand and warp with rising temperatures.  The uPVC typically contracts when it cools, but if this happens repeatedly, the frame may be the wrong size for the window opening. Another cause could be that the foundations of your house have shifted and the window frame no longer fits in its opening properly. In all these instances, buying a new window is the most suitable solution.

3. Your windows are worn out

Signs of warping or rot on your windows are a sure indication that you need to replace them. Wooden window frames in particular are prone to damage – once rot sets into the wood, it can be difficult to halt the decay and stay on top of it. Rain is unavoidable and you might find it too tasking to fix rotting window seals. If you choose to leave it be, the rot will progressively get worsen and soon you’ll have a hard time opening and closing the window.

4. They are leaking

The build-up of condensation on the inside of your windows is a sign that you need to replace them. In addition to potentially obscuring your view and blocking natural light from streaming into your home, condensation is at the least annoying to have to constantly wipe away and in the worst-case scenario, can encourage the growth of mold in the inside of the window frame. If the condensation occurs between the panes in a double-glazed window, it means that it has blown and will no longer provide insulation.

Condensation issues should be addressed as soon as possible. If left untreated, the water can accumulate and lead to problems with dampness and mold which can potentially cause structural damage to your home and has been linked to numerous health issues.

5. Your windows are drafty

Draft can occur when your window doesn’t shut properly. With cold air constantly seeping into your home, you are more prone to discomfort and cold-related health problems.

6. Your home isn’t soundproof

Modern windows are designed to limit sound transfer which can be especially useful if you live near a busy street or road. New windows can help to keep up to 90% of noise from outside at bay. Sounds find their way into homes through various sources, including noise from cars, neighbors, and aircraft. Consistent bombardment of these nuisance sounds can be extremely irritating and even harm your health in some circumstances.

The degree of soundproofing you get from new windows depends on the type of windows you choose. Some options that may be suitable for this function include double glazing and secondary glazing.

7. There are faded areas on wall coverings, furniture, and curtains near your windows

If you’ve noticed a faded patch on a curtain, window seat, wallpaper, or carpet close to your window, this has probably been caused by UV rays from the sun penetrating through your windowpane. Older window models do not use UV protection technology like their modern counterparts. To protect your home from further sun damage, you might want to consider upgrading your window.

8. You want to modernize the look of your home

It’s not uncommon to modernize the look and feel of your home – and also add aesthetic appeal and value to your property. One of the most reliable ways to do this is by replacing your windows with modern, high-quality models.

How much do new windows cost?

The cost for new windows varies greatly depending on the size of the windows, the type of windows you intend to buy, and how many you need. Other cost factors to consider include energy-efficient upgrades, as well as if you want any custom features. In addition to these costs, you will also need to take into account the cost of professional installation.

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to replace a standard window is $650 per window, with a range of about $300 to $1,000. If you’re hiring a professional, labor could set you back an additional $100 to $300 per window. For example, for a standard three-bedroom home, you could fork over anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 to replace all of the windows and $4,000 to $13,000 if you take installation fees into account.

In terms of materials, aluminum windows are the most affordable to buy, followed by vinyl, composite, wood, and then fiberglass. Custom and ornate windows cost around 25% to 5% more than the cost of windows made with standard materials. 

When budgeting out your window replacement project, remember that to get the most out of your new windows, you want to upgrade with the same materials or better as the windows you currently have. Downgrading to save money could have the opposite effect.

How to choose your new windows

Here are important factors to keep in mind when choosing new windows:

Framing materials

Common framing materials include:

1. Timber

Timber provides a traditional, natural look. It’s one of the highest performing materials in terms of energy efficiency as it’s a natural insulator that is effective at absorbing and retaining heat. Timber windows are high maintenance, though modern timber frames are engineered to be stronger, and can also be treated to resist fungus and rot.

2. uPVC 

This material is low maintenance and durable, offering high performance at affordable prices. uPVC ticks all the boxes, making smooth and stylish frames that will never flake, rot, or rust.

3. Aluminum  

Aluminum is ideal if you want a stylish exterior. This material allows for slim frames and a large glass surface area, letting more natural light in. Aluminum windows feature a thermal barrier in the frames which effectively reduces heat loss. The material is also low maintenance and extremely weatherproof.

4. Fiberglass

Fiberglass is a good option if you need strength and durability in a window frame. Fiberglass windows are also designed to withstand extreme heat and cold. They are a great all-around solution if you’re looking for visual appeal, durability, and energy efficiency.

5. Vinyl

Vinyl window frames are a functional and affordable option for any space. They don’t require any staining, painting, or refinishing, which makes them quite easy to maintain. They are also energy efficient and effective at blocking out noise.

Glazing options

1. Single glazing

This type of glazing offers limited energy efficiency, sound insulation, and security.

2. Double glazing

A double glazed window features two panes of glass that are joined by a space bar. This gap traps warm air and improves the insulation of a home.

3. Triple glazing

Triple glazing contains a third pane of glass, which makes windows with this type of glazing more effective at trapping warm air and reducing heat loss through the sealed unit.

4. Secondary glazing 

This is an alternative to double glazing if you live in a listed building or conservation area where it may not be possible to replace your windows. With this type of glazing, an additional window is installed directly inside the existing frame. Secondary glazing can help your home achieve security, thermal, and noise reduction benefits.

Glass types

1. Low-E glass

This type of glass has an invisible, thin coating that reflects heat.

2. Low iron glass

This is noticeably clearer, allowing a higher level of light to pass through it.

3. Leaded glass

Stylish strips of lead are added to your window to make it more aesthetically pleasing.

4. Acoustic glass

This is a thin and lightweight glass that provides excellent sound insulation.

5. Security glass

Security glass is thicker and may be laminated or toughened to enhance security.

6. Obscure glass

This type of glass creates a cloudy effect that enhances privacy by blurring out your home’s belongings to passers-by.

Design

1. Casement windows

These are extremely versatile – they can be hinged on the side to open right or left, or hinged to open upwards. Many modern models feature locking points along all sides of the frame, which makes them extremely secure.

2. Dual turn windows

To work a dual window, you pull it down and inwards to open, turning on a pivot to fully reverse the sash. They’re easy to clean, plus they allow optimum airflow on a hot day.

3. Tilt and turn windows

Tilt and turn windows have a dual-hinge design that tilts and opens inwards using hinges at the bottom and side. They’re tidy and efficient and are commonly found in apartments and other upper stories.

4. Sash windows

There are several different styles of this window available, modeled on designs from the Victorian, Georgian, and Edwardian periods. Sash windows tend to have a thicker frame depth and a deep bottom rail.  

Final thoughts

Windows can improve the look and feel of your home, making a house that you’ve lived in for years feel almost brand new. New windows are an investment that can offer strong returns when you have properly considered which option best suits your needs. Make sure you do plenty of research on materials and work with a reputable supplier for the best results.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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