If you’re considering storm windows vs replacement windows, you know there are many options. Both will increase the comfort and efficiency of your home or building. For replacement windows, there’s new construction and replication. For storm windows, there’s exterior and interior storm windows.
When looking at storm windows vs replacement windows, you want an upgrade from what you already have. You want to reduce noise and drafts, increase energy savings and ease of care. You’ll also want to think about how it will affect the appearance of your home and whether you want to be able to open your windows. We’ll cover all of that in this comparison.
Storm Windows vs Replacement Windows: Construction
Both replacement windows and storm windows are available in a variety of construction types. This is a huge benefit for both, but it also mean there’s an overwhelming amount of information to wade through. If this is your main concern, we have an entire blog regarding construction of storm windows vs replacement windows.
Generally, replacement windows will be made of a glass that is either double- or triple-pane for insulation. Air or gas is injected between the panes for even more energy efficiency. The pane(s) are surrounded by a frame of aluminum, fiberglass, vinyl, or clad—interior of wood, exterior of one of the former.
Storm windows, both interior and exterior, are made of a glass or acrylic panel with a wood or metal frame. Storm windows are placed over your existing windows and attached to the window frame using screws, caulk, a track system, or a compression system. Some you will be able to open your window easily, some you need to remove the storm window to do so.
Storm Window vs Regular Window: Performance
Any new window will perform better than an old window alone, especially if you are coming from a single pane to a double or triple. The performance of your replacement window is going to depend on the kind you get. For specifics and a breakdown of window types, visit our blog Performance of Storm Windows vs Regular Window.
Adding storm windows to existing windows can make them perform almost like new. If you have particularly old windows, you may need to restore them before adding storm windows to see efficiency gains like new windows, but the investment is worth it.
Performance by Category
(Lower the U-Value, better the insulation)
Storm windows such as Indow inserts have U-Value of .54.
Replacement double-pane with ” air space have U-Value of .81.
Replacement triple-pane glass, low-E on 2 panes, ” paces with argon have U-Value of .53.
Interior storm window inserts can reduce outside noise by 50% (10-12 dBA) when added to single-pane windows and 70% (18.9 dBA) when added to double-pane.
Replacement windows standardly reduce outside noise by approximately 25%. There are replacements optimized for sound control but they will be a speciality window higher in price.
Interior storm window inserts block 98% of damaging UV rays.
Single-pane windows let in 90% of UV radiation.
Standard double-pane windows let in over 80%.
Window Inserts vs Full Replacement: Installation & Aesthetic
Replacement windows, once installed, will have a fresh, clean look. There’s no need for restoration or continued maintenance if you go with vinyl windows over wood. A variety of window shapes are available in replacement windows.
Original windows are part of a building’s original design. Replacement windows can seem out of place compared to the rest of the home’s aesthetic, even when a custom shape is applied. If you have an older home, board approval is often needed before removing any old windows. Replication windows can be made, but those are often costly and still may not meet historic board approval.
If you are placing storm windows in your home, you can maintain the original design intention. You can also choose just one or two problem windows to upgrade. With replacement windows, you would want to upgrade all windows at once to maintain a consistent look.
“24.5 years. That is the average amount of time it will take you to recover the financial investment of a new window. And since the typical life span of a replacement window is only 10-20 years, that makes replacement windows a very bad investment.”
Scott Sidler, The Craftsman Blog
Cost of Window Replacement vs Storm Windows
Compared to full replacement windows, interior storm window inserts cost on average 75% less than wood and 50% less than vinyl, fully installed. According to Remodeling, 2019 cost for vinyl window replacement is $16,000 with a resale value of $12,332, wood window replacement is $20,526 with a resale value of $14,530. The equivalent job for Indow window inserts would cost $3,600.
Vinyl is the least expensive replacement window, but it will not last very long. Energy Star windows, which are on the higher end, are not as energy efficient as interior storm windows, so will not save as much money on bills.
Window Replacement vs Storm Windows: Conclusion
Replacement windows will:
Take care of all existing window issues
Appear clean & new
Provide new window technology, including insulation & energy efficiency
Come in a variety of shapes to suit your design needs
Last 10-20 years, vinyl being the first to break down
Increase health risks—while vinyl isn’t a direct risk in your home (unless on fire) the production of it is toxic
Typically more expensive with a longer return on investment
Provide less insulation value for thermal & noise unless you get a specialty window
Storm windows will:
Solve some window issues
Allow you to keep your original windows which were designed for the house and which may include irreplaceable old-growth wood frames
Protect existing windows, provide energy efficiency and noise reduction
Be custom built to fit your window
Require little to no construction
Last 10-20 years, typically (some have been discovered with original windows over 100 years old)
Typically more affordable investment
Perform better than replacements for thermal & noise than a standard replacement window
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