Getting Some Clarity on Window Replacements

By | February 16, 2021

Thinking about replacing your old windows? Not so fast! We sat down with LEAP Technical Assessor, Ross Wood, for some expert advice on when you should really start looking into window replacements. Over the years at LEAP, Ross has taught homeowners the value of finding other sources of energy inefficiency within the home, and seeking other solutions before undertaking expensive window replacements. We’re here to share what we’ve learned!

When do my windows actually need to be replaced?

Windows need to be replaced when broken, installed incorrectly, or when they are creating obvious localized comfort issues for the residents. 

What problems are/aren’t solved by replacing my windows?

Before getting into this question I would like to say that window replacements will solve certain efficiency and comfort issues. Many homes have deficiencies and windows are certainly part of that. That being said, windows are a major expense that can take, typically, 25-30 years to see a return on investment or ROI. Replacing windows will not stop heat from escaping through the attic or cold air from entering through the crawlspace. For these reasons, windows are rarely the first solution when it comes to retrofitting an existing house or reducing the home’s air leakage to the outside. 

What should I do before replacing windows?

When retrofitting a home, air sealing and insulating the attic and crawlspace should be considered prior to window replacement. This includes attic insulation and floor/crawl space insulation. These are much cheaper ways, compared to windows, to make a more measurable improvement on your house. There will also be a quicker ROI when performing these upgrades. 

Additionally, a full window replacement for top-of-the-line, energy-efficient windows is expensive. For most homes, a full window replacement will start around $10,000 and go up depending on architectural details – roughly 5-10x the cost of attic or crawlspace insulation work. Sometimes adding storm windows, gaskets, or replacing only the glazing can improve the functionality of windows without full window replacement.

All in all, window replacement is expensive. Look into other options to make your home energy efficient before replacing windows; your money may be better spent elsewhere.