As most of you know, we moved into our current home last June. We have a nice sized yard and a really nice neighborhood. What we don’t have is a house that was move in ready. Well, it was, but we wanted to change many things. It’s been months and we still have too many projects to list. I have been to the home improvement store so many times, they greet me with my own personal shopper and a hot coffee (OK, they really don’t, but there should be some type of frequent shopper program)! Some of the cashiers do know me by name and I’m not proud of that. Anyway, we have just replaced our old water heater, which I will write about in another post. I’ve had to work from home a number of times to meet with professionals about doing work around the house. I do DIY a lot, but I also know when to hire the pros and when to tackle it on my own.
Anyway, two weeks ago we had a salesman come over to talk about window replacement. Our windows are the originals and they leave a lot to be desired. They have some air leaks around the frame and the glass doesn’t really keep heat in or out of the house. It’s like a damn free-flow lane where the traffic never stops! Anyway, my wife and I decided to see what it would cost to replace our 18 windows. You can’t make informed decisions until you have all the facts. The presentation was good and the company we had come over was highly rated and recommended to us.
Are New Windows Worth the Cost?
Since I base my decisions on necessity and mathematics, I decided to run some quick numbers in my head while the salesman was talking. He indicated that we could save about 10-20% on our electric bill per month. We pay around $140 on average so far on our monthly electric bill. Our house is entirely electric, so we don’t have gas bills. I researched before he came to the house and found a general consensus of about 15% savings. Since he was in that range, I decided to run with the 15% savings. It’s like switching to Geico!
Here’s the breakdown:
Savings: $21.00 per month
Break Even Point (ROI): 38 years and 3.5 months (9650/[21×12])
It would take us 38 years to get a return on those windows. 38 freaking years! Now, there is no math in the world that would make that a value proposition. Considering most replacement windows only last 20 years, you would never get a return on those windows. It just wouldn’t happen. Our mortgage will be paid off before that and we might not even be living here. Hell, our son would be 40 by then and I would be old. Nope, not worth it!
PS.. We would need to keep the house for 20 years and 7 months before we break even based on the resell value of the windows. They only capture 54% (estimate) of their initial value. That’s still a long time!
So, are new windows worth the cost? Many times, probably not! If your windows are older and need some lovin, then you can do some things to make them work more efficiently. If your windows are broken, don’t function, or are unsafe, then don’t worry about the break-even point. You will need to replace them, so find a good product and get them installed.
If you have old, single pane windows, then see if your savings will reduce the break-even point. Single pane windows are not very efficient at all. If you’re in my boat, take some time to learn about ways to increase your window efficiency. You should never buy a product that doesn’t even have a life expectancy longer than the break-even period. It’s just not good financial sense.
Ways to Fix Drafty Windows
Thank goodness for the internet. With a few quick Google searches, I was able to look up some ways to spruce up our old windows and make them work a little better than they have before. The most effective method is to check where your drafts are coming from. Mine were mostly due to two reasons. The seals had all started to crack, so replacing those was a must. They don’t cost much and are available at most home improvement stores.
The other issue for us was the caulking around the window casing had deteriorated. Well, with an hour to spare and some quality caulking, I was able to seal up those leaks and feel better about it. The next step is to have a film applied to the windows. I won’t be doing this myself. There is a relatively new film out there that has to be applied professionally, but it acts like low-e, which is what the new window manufacturers put as their main selling point.
If your windows need a little more than just seals and new caulking, then think about storm windows. They protect your windows from the harsh elements, but also provide an air gap that can increase your old window efficiency. These are typically less costly than replacement windows, but make sure to do the math on that price too. It might be something we consider, but I want to see if the changes I made will have any effect.
If you don’t know how to do any of the work on your windows, then hire someone. It will be far less costly to have your windows repaired, then to replace them. On top of that, the salesman even showed me that new windows only hold about 50% of their value when selling your house. This means that you can expect to gain about 50% of your investment back when you sell your house within a specified time frame of installation. It’s not terrible, but not the best. Kitchens can fetch up to 80% of their initial investment. Not bad!
The moral of this story is to make sure and do the math when thinking about windows or any home improvement project. What’s the purpose of the project? Do you need to have it done? Don’t be awed by the presentation from the salesman. I was enamored by the heat lamp behind the sample window.
It was like night and day between our window and the new one. I loved it, but that quickly went away once I found out the price and how long it would take to make my money back. My goal is to make the house more energy efficient. New windows would do that, but at the expense of my wallet and my financial mindset. Not worth it in my opinion.