By Jim Sulski
Summary:Vinyl-clad wood and solid vinyl are two options when you're replacing your window. Here are the pros and cons associated with the different types of windows.
If you have an older home, you're probably considering replacement windows.
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The question homeowners often come up with replacement windows is which are better - vinyl-clad wood or solid vinyl windows.
According to energy experts, performance-wise, there's not a tremendous difference between a vinyl-clad wood window or solid vinyl window. From an energy standpoint, they are almost the same thing.
However, there are other differences. Full vinyl windows are going to be less expensive than a wood window, which means the payback - as far as energy savings on your initial investment - will come quicker.
There's also an aesthetic difference. If you have handsome looking wood trim around your windows now, you may not care for the look of vinyl inside your home. On the exterior, vinyl-clad wood windows usually blend in well with any painted wood trim.
Now let's talk about replacement windows in general.
When considering replacement windows, there are a number of factors you should take into account, including energy savings.
The first thing is to remember the payback on replacement windows is going to be a long term investment - it's going to take more than five or ten years - sometimes much longer. And you cannot pinpoint how much you're going to save on your energy bills when you replace windows.
In fact, how long it will take for the new windows to pay for themselves will depend on a number of issues.
The first of those issues is the condition of the existing windows. If your home has single-pane windows, then they are serious candidates for replacement.
Single-pane windows, especially older windows, are notorious for cold air infiltration, which causes you to crank up the thermostat and burn energy and energy dollars.
So if your windows are currently in bad shape and you're running your furnace more than you should, your payback will come faster.
If your windows are dual-pane, or if you have good storm windows, you may want to consider sealing and caulking any existing windows that feel drafty in the cold months, as well as fixing any broken or cracked panes.
This is a good time of the year to caulk: early fall.
If you have an older house with lots of windows to caulk, give yourself an entire day for the job. You'll spend lots of time just moving a ladder in place, especially with second floor windows.
Where do you want to apply caulk? Typically, around the perimeter of every door and window, where the outermost frame of the window or door meets the building.
The above job is much, much cheaper than replacement windows and there will be a payback.
You'd also save more energy dollars by doing something such as investing in insulation in the attic, if you don't already have insulation there.
There are other issues to consider.
For example, what do the existing windows look like and would replacement windows enhance the aesthetic value of your home? And what will that do to the resale value of the property both from a short-term and long-term perspective?
Remember, one issue you cannot overlook is comfort. You have to determine how much better your comfort level could be in your home thanks to new windows.
When shopping for new windows, look for something called a U-value, which is a rating system produced by the National Fenestration Rating Council. The lower the number the better. In cold climates, a U-value of .50 or .35 is recommended by the Department of Energy.
As that number gets lower, it basically means that less heat transmission will occur through the glass.
For quality windows, expect to pay at least several hundred dollars per window opening as far as replacement costs. So if you're replacing all the windows on your home, you will face quite a bill.
As with any other home improvement project, get bids from several contractors, and ask for referrals.
© by Jim Sulski. All rights reserved. August 10, 2005.
NOTE: This column is distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate,
PO Box 366, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022. This column may not be resold, reprinted,
resyndicated or redistributed without written permission from the publisher.
© 2005 by Ilyce R. Glink. Distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate.