What to Look for in Replacement Windows
LESLIE: Rick in Utah’s got a window question. What can we help you with?
RICK: I’m looking at finally biting the bullet and putting in new replacement windows in my 50-year-old home.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
RICK: And I tell you what. Everybody’s got a story on replacement windows. There are more things that people throw at you …
TOM: Oh, man, don’t they?
RICK: I had less trouble picking out my wife than picking out windows. (Tom and Leslie laugh)
TOM: I got to tell you. You know, we get commercials to record from time to time and it’s very important to us that those commercials are honest. And we had a script once where it was from a window company and it said, “You’ll save 50 percent on your energy dollars if you put in our windows.” I called the salesman up and I said, “If you had no windows and now you have windows maybe you’ll save 50 percent.” But other than that, I don’t think that’s – I think that’s a bit of an overstatement. So you’re right. They do throw a lot of things at you, so let me give you some tips here.
First of all, if you choose a window that’s Energy Star-rated, that’s going to enable you to make an apples-to-apples comparison from window to window. If it’s not Energy Star-rated I wouldn’t even think about choosing it. Energy Star is a government-run program run the Environmental Protection Agency. They set standards for energy efficiency for manufactured products. You can go to their website at EnergyStar.gov and get some tips on that. That’s the best way to make sure you’re going apples to apples. These guys that come and promise you the moon, they probably can’t deliver it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you also want to look at the NFRC – National Fenestration Rating Council. That’s going to be another sticker on the window. Again, that’ll help you do the same.
RICK: Well, I’ve been looking at triple-pane windows versus double-pane windows. Now there’s a double-pane window with a membrane in the middle …
RICK: … and then they have argon-filled and then they have krypton-filled. So I was just looking at what your feelings on all these are.
TOM: I can tell you that in northern part of the country you’ll probably get a better return on investment from triple-pane than if you live down in the south. So, if you have some pretty hard winters there in Utah you might want to consider the triple-pane. If you live farther south in the country though, you probably wouldn’t get the return on investment. Triple-panes are generally more expensive than double-panes.
RICK: Well, what they do with the triple-pane that I’m looking at is it covers – it occupies the same space as a double-pane, so there’s actually now less space between the middle pane and the outside pane. And so (INAUDIBLE) …
TOM: Right, but they are slightly – but they are slightly more energy-efficient, generally speaking.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And they’ll offer better acoustics but you might lose a bit of visibility.
TOM: Right. But again, go back to the basics. Look for windows that are Energy Star-rated. Use that as the standard between different manufacturers and you can’t go wrong.
RICK: OK, and argon versus krypton-filled?
TOM: It depends. Both of those are adequate insulating gases but there’s other factors that apply here. There is the visible light transmittance; how much light gets through; how much UV gets through. There’s a lot of things. So we can’t just go for argon over krypton or krypton over argon because there are a lot of other factors. It’s a system. All of these factors work together in a system and so, if you don’t consider it as a whole then you’re not going to make the right decision. That’s why you want to check the ratings from the National Fenestration Rating Council and the ratings from Energy Star to determine whether or not the window is energy efficient and then compare from those that pass those tests to make the decision on the actual window that you buy.
LESLIE: And definitely, when you do decide, have those manufacturers or the installer come in and measure the windows themselves for the replacement. This way, if they make a mistake they’re responsible. And there are a lot of confusing places you do need to take measurements, so it’s better to just have someone come in and do that for you.
RICK: I plan to do that. I appreciate you. Thank you. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Thanks, Elvis.
TOM: (chuckling) Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.