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Why Inexpensive Replacement Windows Don’t Save You Money

If you are choosing vinyl for its economical cost, you should be aware that there are substantial differences between higher-quality vinyl and cheaper windows.  Inexpensive replacement windows are a myth and downgrading any one of the below factors will cost your energy-efficiency, reduce your investment’s long-term benefits, and/or take away from the comfort of your home.  I would find other ways to save money than compromising on your home’s comfort and barrier to the outside elements.

Here are the key factors:

  1. Window Frame Material: Vinyl frames range widely in quality and price, requiring careful research to differentiate between options.  The mil thickness of the vinyl and number of insulation chambers are two examples of how window quality can drastically differ.  Also, while all vinyl windows are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), manufacturers incorporate different additives such as impact modifiers and stabilizers that further differentiate the quality of frame reinforcement and performance.
  2. Window Frame Insulation: Many modern windows feature hollow cavities that can affect energy efficiency. Lower-cost windows often lack adequate insulation, while mid-range to high-end options use quality insulating materials. Better insulation increases the window’s cost but improves its efficiency.
  3. Double, or Triple Pane Glass: Residential windows typically come in double or triple panes. Double-pane windows significantly enhance energy efficiency, while triple-pane windows further improve insulation. The return on investment (ROI) regarding energy savings between double and triple panes varies, however triple pane windows currently are the only technology that qualifies for the Most Energy Efficient (Energy Star) ratings which in turn have tax rebates associated.
  4. Window Gas: Certain gases, like argon or krypton, denser than air, are injected between double or triple panes to reduce heat transfer. This feature enhances thermal performance but adds to the window’s cost; especially krypton.
  5. Window Coating: Low-emissivity (low-e) coatings on glass help control heat transfer and improve energy efficiency in insulated windows. While these coatings increase the window’s cost by 10% to 15%, they can lower energy bills by 30% to 50% and protect furnishings from fading.

The above factors underscore the importance of understanding the trade-offs between cost, energy efficiency, and long-term benefits when selecting windows for your home.   Inexpensive replacement windows, while they may look good in the beginning, will not serve you or your family in the long run.