That’s why one reader recently sent an email, explaining his dilemma: “New windows would make no sense from an energy-saving payback (30-year payback at best), but I am starting to come around to the view that there are fewer and fewer DIY types in the market and that ‘green’ is an increasingly pertinent selling catch phrase, regardless of costs. But, then, if I do take the plunge — is it stupid to install the new windows 10 years before I move?” he wrote.
The short answer: It’s not a stupid idea, according to the contractors, real-estate agents and energy-efficiency experts to whom I posed this question. Still, it pays to pinpoint why you’re doing it.
Comfort and aesthetics
“Most people buy windows because their old ones are shot and drafty, and they know they’re losing energy,” said Paul Vosen, president of Degenhardt Home Improvement in Madison, Wis.
Some also swap windows for those that are easier to maintain or clean. Vinyl windows, for example, need less maintenance, and some windows can be cleaned from inside the house, Vosen said. New windows can reduce the amount of noise that can enter the home, as well as lessen the amount of ultraviolet light that comes in — which will reduce fading on flooring and furnishings, said Kathy Ziprik, spokeswoman for Simonton Windows, a manufacturer of windows and doors.
It’s not out the question for windows to last 30 years, if they’re taken care of, Vosen said. Buy them about a decade before you move (as the reader contemplated doing), and you’ll both enjoy them while you live in the home and still have windows new enough to appeal to an eventual buyer.
On a national average, you can recover 78.7% of the price of a midcost vinyl-window replacement and 76.6% of a more expensive vinyl-window replacement at resale, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. Meanwhile, you can recover 79.3% of the cost of a midcost wood-window replacement and 74% of an upscale wood-window replacement at resale.
That potential return on investment is one reason John C. Kmiecik, a Chicago-area real-estate agent, recently spent $18,000 on new windows for his 3,000-square-foot suburban Chicago home. “We are probably going to stay in the house about five to seven years, and, when we do sell, we’ll be able to market that property with newer windows,” he said.
Most buyers see new windows as a big perk. In fact, Kmiecik has seen some buyers decide against buying certain homes because the windows were old and needed to be replaced soon — an investment that would easily cost them in the five-figure range, he said. New windows also add curb appeal.
That said, if you’re planning on replacing your windows, make sure you don’t overspend on them. If your house is worth $100,000, you probably shouldn’t put in the highest-quality windows on the market; you won’t recoup as much of that investment at resale, he said. But if your home is worth, say, $500,000, you may want to opt for more of a premium window, Kmiecik said. Don’t know what your house is worth or what grade of windows to install? Call up a local real-estate agent for some advice, Kmiecik said.
Also, when listing the home, consider having a Building Performance Instituteprofessional do a home energy audit, said James Lebair, president, owner and designer of JRL Design, in Oreland, Pa. Alternatively, he suggested, have aResidential Energy Services Network rater grade the home on the Home Energy Rating System Index, the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. Share results of the audit or rating with prospective buyers, explaining what they’ll save in energy costs and what they’ll gain in comfort and indoor air quality, compared with similar homes nearby that aren’t as efficient, he said.
Be ready for buyers to ask to see a sample of your monthly energy bills, said Jim Liptak, a real-estate broker in Paso Robles, Calif. People often do this to get a sense of what it costs to run the house.
It takes many years to recoup money invested in new windows based on energy savings alone. Still, you’ll save energy from the start.
Of course, there are other ways to save energy. In fact, if that’s your main goal, consider a home energy audit before making any improvement, Lebair said. That will help you prioritize projects that will make your home energy efficient. Perhaps new windows won’t be at the top of the list.
There are also alternatives to a window replacement, Lebair said. If, for example, you like the look of your old windows and don’t want to get rid of them, you could invest in an energy-efficient storm window, such as the QuantaPanel, that would help protect the window from the weather and increase its efficiency, he said. That could save you about 50% or more in installation costs, he said. There are other techniques to repair and weatherize old, historic windows, so owners of homes with that distinction have options.
Proper installation is important to getting the optimal efficiency of a window, Vosen pointed out. An inexpensive window installed correctly could be much more efficient than an expensive one installed incorrectly, he said. Homeowners considering installing windows themselves should be very confident they can do the job right; otherwise, it might be best to get a professional to handle it.
There are no current federal energy-efficiency tax credits for window replacements; those expired in 2013. But there may be state or local tax breaks for which you qualify. Check energy.gov for more (see the upper right side of the home page for a searchable rebate database).
Article from Marketwatch.com origianlly published here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-not-so-sexy-home-improvement-project-with-real-benefits-2014-10-06?page=1