(Angie's List) - Replacing your windows can help reduce your energy costs, improve your family's comfort and enhance the overall appearance.
But it's a project that should not be entered lightly. In this Angie's List report, the factors you should consider before replacing your windows.
Lori Torres' century old home was in dire need of new windows.
"We'd had them for a very long time, they were at least 25 if not 30 years old and so they were old wood windows that were letting in the cold air in the winter, the warm air in the summer and starting to rot a little bit. Some were in worse shape than others, but we knew we needed new windows for our old house," says Torres.
Adds Angie Hicks of Angie's List, "When it comes to items around your house nothing is going to last forever and windows are no different. You can expect you're going to replace your windows if you live in your house for a long period of time. Your return on investment can be a really good return in your heating and cooling bills throughout the year, but you need to live in your house for a period of time before you realize those savings which can be as much as 70 percent."
The style, shape and type of window will play a factor in it's cost.
A triple-paned, low-emissivity window will cost significantly more than a single-paned window, but will provide better energy efficiency and long-term energy savings.
"The most important rating system that windows have today is the U factor. U factor is a number that they put on each window that tells you just how efficient it is. The lower the number, the more efficient that window is," says Chris Pasa, a window salesman.
Common signs that your windows need replaced include wood rot and drafts.
Adds Pasa, "The two most popular windows are still wood windows and vinyl windows. Typically when you use a wood window it's a clad version, meaning it's a solid wood window but it's covered on the outside with either vinyl or aluminum, that way you don't have the upkeep and you don't need to worry about them rotting and things like that. And then the other window is a vinyl window, which is 100% vinyl. It's inside and out maintenance free and should last you a lifetime."
Angie's List says it's important that windows are installed correctly. Doing it wrong can lead to many problems like air leakage and loss of energy efficiency. You could also void your warranty if the window is installed wrong.
"When hiring a window contractor you want to do your homework. Remember that this is an investment in your house that is going to last for a long period of time so you want to know what kind of guarantees and warranties come with the windows," concludes Hicks.
If you're concerned about the price tag up front, look at replacing your windows one by one over time as funds become available.
Also, look into federal tax credits available for qualifying windows, which can help lower that up front cost.