TUCSON, Ariz. - Ray Santana recently replaced all of the windows in his home. He used a major brand's window replacement service to help walk him through the process from start to finish. Consumer Reports says choosing and installing replacement windows can be a bit overwhelming for homeowners.
"When you're looking at windows you want to make sure you're getting the right type for the climate and the area in which you live," says Consumer Reports Home Editor, Haniya Rae.
That's why Consumer Reports' tests focus on how well vinyl, wood, and composite windows stand up to the elements.
First there's a wind resistance test:
"A window can be very tight when it's warm but when it gets cold it could actually leak a lot," says Consumer Reports Tester, Rico De Paz.
Then there's the rain. Each window is showered with five gallons of water per square foot, per hour, while slowly increasing the wind velocity until water leaks anywhere inside the window. The Pella 350 Series Vinyl window was the only window that rated excellent in all of the performance tests. CR's 3 foot by 5 foot basic window costs about $415. There are less expensive options for more temperate areas with less wind and rain. Among them, the $285 Simonton Prism Window. And the $300 Jeld-Wen V-2500 series window is a good option for colder regions. Bottom line? Replacement windows can cut your heating and cooling costs but don't bank on drastic savings.
Planning on selling your home soon? The National Association of Realtors estimates you'd recover nearly 80% of your costs installing new vinyl windows.