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Window Replacement Cost Sky High

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Window Replacement Cost | Installing new replacement windows does not guarantee that your condensation problems will disappear. The payback period to pay for them in energy savings can be 20, or more, years.  PHOTO CREDIT: Kathy Carter - Copyright 2022

Window Replacement Cost is Sky High

A good friend of mine who lives in the suburbs of Chicago reached out to me a few weeks ago. He asked me what I knew about the cost to replace windows. He didn’t want to make a grave financial error navigating the treacherous waters of replacement windows.

With the average cost of window replacement running over $1,000 per window (2022 prices), one of the first questions I asked my friend was his motivation. Were his windows inoperable? Was he sick of painting his existing ones? Did he want to save money on his heating and cooling costs? Did he just want new windows that looked better? Because the cost of windows replacement is in the stratosphere, you should really think about why you want new windows before you commit financial suicide.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Windows?

With inflation rising faster than a jack-in-the-box popping out of a metal can, you’re about to experience sticker shock when you get estimates. My friend lives in a modest solid-brick bungalow that sports ten normal-sized windows. He received estimates ranging from $10,197 to $31,498. Do the math and you can see the average cost of a replacement window runs between, $1,100 and $3,150. That’s enough to cause you to quiver.

Why Should I Replace My Windows?

You may want to replace your windows to get better performance and save energy. Window technology is constantly improving. Modern glass can incorporate special coatings that reduce the amount of ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light entering your home. Other coatings can bounce back heat to its source so heat from your home can stay indoors during the winter months. Some coatings make your windows stay cleaner longer.

Are DIY Window Films Good?

This said, you can apply transparent films to your existing windows and achieve the same results. One film can reject 97 percent of the IR light that’s trying to transform your house into a blast furnace. Another film can block a significant amounts of UV light that work to fade your fabrics and carpets. These films cost a tiny fraction of what a new window might set you back. Many are DIY and not that hard to install. I’ve installed window films myself with ease.

Will Replacement Windows Pay For Themselves?

Let’s unpack the most common motivation for purchasing replacement windows. A salesperson may have cast a spell cast upon you convincing you that you’re going to save lots of money on your utility bills once the windows are installed. I’m afraid you’re in for some grim news.

I’ve said this for years in past columns and no one has ever challenged this statement. That tells me it rings true: You don’t start to save money on an energy improvement until such time as you have recaptured in fuel and electricity savings ALL of the money you spent plus any interest you may have paid to finance the purchase.

Sounds confusing, right? It’s not. I propose we use the mid-point between the two estimates and round it off. Let’s use $20,000 for the cost of the new windows. Let’s also assume he pays cash using money from his mattress and doesn’t finance the purchase. If you finance your window purchase, you need to add in all of the interest you’ll be paying on your loan plus the cost of the windows.

What is the Average Cost to Heat & Cool a House?

My friend paid $1,539.00 in 2021 to heat and cool his home. When it comes time in the future to see what you’re saving, it’s best to compare the actual energy quantities you use, not the actual price. Fuel and electric price changes create very fuzzy math.

I reached out to the Gilkey Window Company in my hometown of Cincinnati, OH asking them what the average energy savings might be if I purchased their best windows. They told me it was reasonable to experience a 15% reduction in my heating and cooling fuel usage. The savings can go as high as 25% but it’s probably wise to stick with 15%.

If my friend installed high-quality replacement windows he might spend $230.85 less per year in energy costs. We can use that number to get a worse-case payback scenario. My calculator showed it would take over 86 years to break even. Yes, as energy costs rise, the payback period is less. Do your own math using your true annual heating and cooling costs. I think you’ll be stunned by the length of your payback period.

Is it Hard to Calculate the Payback Period of Replacement Windows?

It’s important to realize the computation of actual payback period of replacement windows is far more complex. It might be a good exercise to see what happens if you keep your money and invest it. The return on your investment might pay for the rising cost of fuel and you’ll still have your money that you would have given to the window company.

You then might want to factor in how long you’ll be in your home. The national average used to be nine years not too long ago. Will you still live in your home when you finally break even on your purchase?

All that said, I think you can see that it can take many many years before you truly begin to save money when you purchase replacement windows. Maybe it’s a smarter idea to install new weatherstripping, window films, and paint your existing windows with the best urethane-resin paint you can find. Urethane house paints can last up to twenty years if you do all the preparation right.

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