Big (and expensive) things have been happening at the Merrick household this fall. Among other things (I’ll get to them later), we had new windows installed in October!
The moment we closed on our house in March, we started planning to install new windows before winter. Let me list a few reasons why. They were:
- Single-pane, aluminum
- Missing screens for the most part (which my wonderful father-in-law ended up making for the screen-less so we could get through the summer)
- So dirty they had tracks that doubled as a home for spiders and other gross bugs
Our house was built in 1972 and as you can see from the above list as well as the photo below (taken in March near Josh’s birthday, hence the streamers on the door), the windows were in great need of replacement. Even Rocky, our Energy Trust of Oregon home energy review consultant recommended new windows even though he told us he doesn’t normally recommend them.
While the lack of aesthetics, safety and functionality were big motivators for us to get them replaced, efficiency was the biggest factor. Single-pane, aluminum windows are one of the most inefficient types of windows, which I physically felt. Even when closed, I could feel a breeze when I sat in front of them.
Replacing windows is expensive, even in a 960-square foot house with only seven windows. So we wanted to make sure we got the best windows possible, and that they would be installed correctly in addition to being energy-efficient. So before contacting a replacement company, I consulted with my engineer friend Beth. She recently replaced her windows and had done a lot of research* on the different types of windows available, so I asked her for some advice.
After considering Beth’s research, doing some of our own and talking to several window companies, we decided to go with Milgard double-pane vinyl windows. Originally we wanted to purchase the Tuscan style because of the thicker frame (you can sort of see it in the photo below), but after seeing what the final cost would have been for all seven windows, we decided to go with the Tuscan style for the three windows that would be most visible – the two windows in the living room and one in the dining area. For the other four windows we chose Milgard’s Styline, which aren’t quite as fancy (but look just as nice) and are therefore less expensive. And given the fact that nobody but us would ever notice the difference, we are happy with our choice to save the extra money.
At $5,298.00 the cost of replacing our windows is likely to be one of the more costly home improvements we will make over the course of owning our home (*knock on wood*), but a $300 weatherization incentive from Energy Trust of Oregon will bring the cost down to just under $5,000. And for that we are grateful.
It’s been about two months since the windows were installed and we couldn’t be happier. Not only do they look great, but they have helped keep our house warm during the cold weather we’ve been having — no more draftiness! We’ve also discovered that the windows serve as a sound barrier – our house is much quieter now, which is an added benefit we didn’t expect.
Standard residential window types:
- Aluminum clad (exterior)/wood
- Energy efficient in terms of Solar heat gain (SHG) and thermal insulation value (U-value/R-value).
- Material is not sustainable and will breakdown in UV light after a certain number of years (this is currently under testing, but with some lower quality vinyl windows it has been documented to start to breakdown after just 10 years).
- UV protection is not an option, but higher priced vinyl windows usually use a higher quality or thicker material to increase the life of the window.
- Typically energy star rated – this involves the thermal performance more than the life cycle cost of the windows.
- Usually seen in commercial for storefronts.
- Not energy efficient at the residential level.
- Usually seen in the 70s/80s and the seals would breakdown after a few years of UV exposure.
- Would not recommend this.
Aluminum Clad Wood
- Wood windows with an aluminum cover on the exterior to help prevent moisture degradation and intrusion.
- Lower quality options have been know to allow condensation to form between the aluminum exterior cladding and the wood frame causing early rot of the wood. Window system must allow for condensation drainage or provide good system seals.
- Energy efficient in terms of Solar Heat Gain (SHG) and thermal insulation value (U-value/R-value) but not as good as vinyl.
- Used for many years in this part of the country because wood is so widely available, but prone to rot easier and availability from manufactures is less because of the liability with this product when it comes to moisture intrusion. Painting or staining must be kept up to prevent wood rot.
- Similar to vinyl, but product seems to perform better in UV. This product is typically used on more commercial projects and tends to be higher priced. I have recently seen it on residential projects and I think the price is coming down.
- Thermal performance is pretty good on this product. Not sure about energy ratings for tax credits.
Last but not least, this post wouldn’t be complete without a recommendation for the company we hired to install our windows – Henderson & Daughter Windows and Doors. They’re located in Vancouver, Washington and everyone we worked with — from the sales rep to the installers — they were incredibly professional and great to work with. If you are in the market for new windows, you definitely need to call them.
Seriously. Go do it!
*Please keep in mind that while you can use this information as guidance, it is important that you do your own research to understand the systems that work best for your individual needs.