When to replace home windows
Depending on the material, if you live in an older home and your home’s windows are at least 15 to 30 years old, you may be noticing signs of increased wear and tear and thinking about replacing them.
Common reasons to replace older windows:
- Poor window energy efficiency
- Windows are unattractive: faded, worn or appear outdated
- Windows are bowed, sagging or bent, creating pockets of air infiltration
- Windows leak during rainfall
- Windows accumulate condensation or frost between panes
According to a 2007 study published by the National Association of Home Builders, aluminum windows are expected to last between 15 and 20 years, while wooden windows should last upwards of 30 years. Since they’re considered more durable than wood or metal windows, vinyl and fiberglass windows may last even longer. If your home’s windows are 15 to 30 years old or more, you may be experiencing some of the conditions noted above.
Upgrading your home’s overall energy efficiency is a common reason for installing new windows. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat loss from inefficient windows can account for 10 to 25 percent of your home’s heating bills.
Replacing older windows can improve your home's energy efficiency as well as add value to your home itself. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Haney)
If your home’s heating or cooling bills are too high and continue to increase year over year, installing new windows can be one step towards improved efficiency. Homeowners who replace single-pane windows with energy efficient windows will immediately notice a significant reduction in their heating and cooling bills.
While certain smaller steps can be taken to mitigate energy loss from inefficient windows, including repairing ill-fitting sashes and frames, adding spray foam or caulk to fill in voids or holes, and installing plastic wrap during colder months, installing modern highly energy-efficient windows can help you do an end-run around high utility bills.
Another selling point that may attract many homeowners to replacing their home's windows is ease of cleaning. Features like tilt-out sashes in double-hung windows can make routine window cleaning much more convenient.
Cost vs. value of new windows
If you’re thinking replacing windows to add to your home’s overall resale value, it’s an investment you should consider carefully, as it’s significantly expensive – especially for the most energy efficient windows. For the average-sized U.S. home, installing an entire set of all brand-new windows can easily cost more than $10,000 total.
It’s important to note that many homeowners consider replacing windows to add to their home’s resale value. While few, if any, home improvement investments net a positive return, homeowners who install new windows can reasonably expect to recoup about 60 percent of that investment in terms of improving their home’s overall resale value
Historical or homeowners association considerations
Is your home in a historic district or one subject to HOA covenants? If you’re thinking about replacing your home’s windows that should be one of the first questions you answer. If you live in a historic district that restricts or prohibits changes or alterations to a home’s historical exterior, you may be bound by covenants that can prevent you from installing new windows.
Since a new window installation will alter the aesthetic of your home’s exterior, homeowners associations may also have some regulatory control of installing new windows. While an HOA’s policies or bylaws might not necessarily strictly prohibit window replacement, it may limit your selection of choices in window styles, colors or patterns.
If you’re unable to change your windows, many window companies and other contractors may be able to restore older windows to a like-new appearance – and often at much lower cost than window replacement. If you live in particularly older home with historic windows, consider hiring a window restoration specialist to improve and preserve the windows.