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Do I need new windows?

To help you decide on window replacement, consider comfort, appearance and function, resale value and energy savings.

That chill you feel near your windows when it’s cold out is likely due to radiant heat loss. The inside surface of an inefficient, single-pane window will be much colder on a winter night than that of a double- or triple-pane window.

Another aspect to comfort is the sun. If your winters are cold but mostly sunny, keep in mind that some windows are better than others at letting in the sun’s heat.

Appearance and function

Single-pane windows no longer meet building codes, so your replacements would be double- or triple-pane windows.

New wood- or vinyl-framed windows can act as an exterior facelift. But vinyl replacements might look out of place in an older home with classic wooden windows. You could buy new windows that match the style of some older wooden windows, or you might apply a little elbow grease to get them back into shape. Wooden windows, even if they were built before 1960, can last the life of the home.

Resale value

In their 2019 Remodeling Impact Study, the National Association of Realtors found that on average across the United States, installing new vinyl windows costs about $22,500 per home, and sellers typically could expect to recoup approximately 71% of their investment. Realtors listed new vinyl windows as No. 2 among exterior projects’ appeal to buyers. Improving energy efficiency was the top reason homeowners listed for doing the project, while 63% said new vinyl windows increased their sense of enjoyment at being home.

Energy savings

According to, replacing single-pane windows in a 2,000 square-foot home with ENERGYSTAR-certified windows nets an average annual savings of $125 to $340, depending on where you live.

It may take a while to pay off your initial investment, but it could be worth it if you’re planning to stay in the home that long. An energy auditor can help you estimate potential savings.

Next month we’ll provide information that will help you decide what to look for in a replacement window.

PAT KEEGAN and BRAD THIESSEN write on energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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