Calculating Replacement Window Costs
You know your windows need replacing. Now comes the tricky part: estimating how much it’sgoing to cost you.
Coming up with an estimated cost for your window replacement is a daunting but important step in the process. Windows are a major investment, so you’ll want to figure out how much you’re
going to spend well before you make any big decisions about the project.
Here’s a quick guide to estimating your window replacement costs.
The Basics of Window Replacement
Let’s start with some vocab. When you’re figuring out how much your windows will cost, you first need to figure out what kind of windows you need in your space.
There are a handful of standard window types. In no particular order, they are:
- Bay: These windows extend outward from the wall, instead of being built into the plane of the wall.
- Casement: Casement windows have hinges along the outer edges and open outward.
- Awning: Awning windows also open outward, but they have hinges at the top instead of along the sides.
- Transom: A transom window is one located above either a door or another window.
- Sliding: This one is fairly self-explanatory. A sliding window sits on a track and slides horizontally to open and close.
- Single-hung: With single-hung windows, the upper half remains fixed in place. The lower half slides to open or close.
- Double-hung: While only one panel moves on single-hung windows, a double-hung window has two movable panels.
- Picture: These windows are so named because they’re meant to frame a pretty view, but they’re stationary and don’t slide or open outward.
In general, the more moving parts, the more expensive the window will be.
Besides the design of the window, the type of glass will also be an important factor in determining cost. If you want tempered glass or tinted panes for added security and privacy, expect to pay more than the base rate.
The frames, if you need them replaced, will also have a big impact on your budget. Vinyl framing tends to be cheapest, followed by fiberglass, metal, and wood.
Will New Windows Add Value to My Home?
New windows can set you back a pretty penny. But they might give some of that cost back in the form of value added to your home.
It’s worth noting that in terms of remodeling and home improvement, window upgrades may not be the most efficient way to add value. Here’s what Remodeling magazine says on this front:
- As of 2019, the average national cost of replacing vinyl windows is $16,802. The average rise in resale value after such a project is $12,332. That’s a recouped cost of 73.4%.
- The average national cost of replacing wood windows is $20,526, and the corresponding average increase in resale value is $14,530, meaning you’ll be able to recoup 70.8% of what you paid.
Compare that to, say, replacing a garage door. That project has a national average cost of $3,611 for an average value-add of $3,520, meaning that you’re recouping 97.5% of your cost.
Will New Windows Save Money on My Energy Bill?
In addition to home resale value, upgraded windows can be valuable in other ways. One of them is in the form of savings on your heating and cooling costs.
The U.S. Department of Energy explains that roughly 25% to 30% of average residential heating and cooling use is to counteract heat gain or loss due to windows. That means the difference between energy-efficient windows and poorly insulated windows can be significant.
There are a number of factors that enter into this equation. Here are some of the main ones:
- What kind of climate do you live in? If you live in an area of extreme temperatures (either very hot in the summer or very cold in the winter), you have a bigger potential for energy savings compared to homeowners in more temperate climates. For example, if you live in a frigid, expensive city like Minneapolis, you might be in line for big savings by making these updates.
- How old are your current windows? You’ll see the biggest difference in your heating and cooling bill if your new, energy-efficient windows are replacing very old, inefficient ones.
- What’s the design of your house like? If you’ve got huge picture windows running the length of your living room, your windows can seriously affect the way your house retains or loses heat. If your home has hardly any windows, don’t expect to see any real difference after an upgrade.
If you’re worried that your windows are running up your energy bill, you don’t necessarily need to replace them. The DOE recommends checking your current windows for air leaks, and adding caulk and weatherstrips if necessary.
You can also install overhangs, awnings, or other forms of exterior shading to keep the summer sun off your windows. Solar control film is another good option, especially if you live in a hotter region (Southwestern states, we’re looking at you).
Can I Do DIY Window Replacements?
Well, anything can be a DIY project, if you’re brave enough.
In the case of window replacement, though, most folks will want to leave it to the pros. Window replacement requires fairly specialized tools and a pretty serious level of expertise.
If you can use window inserts and you’re confident in your home improvement skills, a DIY approach is worth considering. If you can’t use window inserts and will need to replace the frames, you’ll probably want to get a specialist for the job.
How Can I Keep the Costs of My Window Replacement Down?
Although this type of project doesn’t lend itself to DIYers, there are still a number of ways you can keep from going over budget. Consider these options:
- Get multiple quotes. This is just good practice with any big renovation. Have several qualified, trustworthy contractors take a look at your project and tell you how much they would charge. You don’t have to go with the absolute cheapest quote, but this way, at least you can be sure that you’re paying a fair price.
- Choose materials carefully. Besides labor, the other place to save money is in materials. While multiple contractors will likely give you fairly similar quotes, the type of frames and glass you choose will cause much bigger fluctuations in the price tag of the project.
- Decide whether you actually need new frames. Replacing the windows themselves can be expensive enough. If you need new frames as well, expect the project cost to roughly double.