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How to Choose High-Quality Replacement Windows That Last
By Mary Butler
 
Energy efficiency is the buzz word in windows these days. But what about a window's durability and life span? Replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows can instantly net you better energy efficiency--in some cases more than 25 percent better. But let's face it, replacement windows are a huge investment, on average costing more than $10,000. Recouping that cost takes years. You not only want energy efficient windows, you want long-lasting replacement windows that pay dividends over time.
 
Seek Advice When You Buy Home Windows
Luckily, you have some unbiased help when shopping for new windows. Both the National Fenestration Rating Council and Energy Star provide ratings that take into account a window's U-factor--how well it keeps air from escaping--and the solar heat gain coefficient--the amount of solar radiation the window allows through. Consumer Reports also conducts its own tests to further rank home windows based on air and water leakage, durability, and convenience. Months of testing is conducted in a lab to spot significant differences between brands and types of replacement windows.
 
Factor Longevity into Your New Windows' Price Tag
It's easy to think in terms of what's best for you right now. But when it comes to big-ticket items, it makes financial sense to consider the future before you buy. If you're only planning to live in your home for five years, it might not be wise to invest in the highest-quality, most expensive windows. But if you see yourself living in your home for many years to come, you might want to spring for wood or fiberglass windows, which cost more than vinyl, but offer better energy efficiency and durability. Vinyl windows also sometimes look out of place in older homes, tend to leak in colder climates, and can't be painted or stained.
 
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