Buying a New Home? What to Look For In the Windows

Buying a new home is a major step in your life. Whether you’re moving to a new city, upgrading from your existing home or it’s your first time in the housing market, you want to get the most for your money. That means making sure that the home is in top shape, or at the very least, has sturdy basics to work with.

There are plenty of areas, spaces and parts of a new-to-you house to seriously assess before submitting an offer. It’s likely that you’ll look at (or have a professional evaluate) the electrical and HVAC systems, the home’s plumbing and pipes and the overall structure. But that’s not all. Don’t forget about the windows.

Even though windows may seem like an aesthetic accent or a part of the home’s décor, they serve a serious purpose. Old, worn or poorly installed windows can cost you money – and in several different ways. As you shop for a new home, what do you need to know about the potential candidates’ windows? Take a look at what you should watch out for.

Window Frames

The window itself may look pristine. But if the frame has cracks or gaps, you have a problem. The average home in the U.S. expends almost all of its total energy usage on heating and cooling, according to the Department of Energy.

Cracks, gaps and poor-fitting frames cause air leaks that contribute to energy loss. This makes it harder for your heating and air conditioning systems to work, raising your energy bills.

As you walk around the exterior and through the interior of the home, check for air leaks. Keep in mind, you may or may not see visible cracks and gaps. Just because the window frames look solid or newer doesn’t mean that they can’t have leaks.

Feel around the windows when you’re inside the home. If you notice a draft or feel the outside air coming in, the window frame may have a problem. The extent of the problem requires a professional to evaluate. Small gaps and cracks are easy to fix with caulking and weather-stripping. But larger gaps and poorly-installed windows may need a more serious repair or a replacement.

Window Panes

How many panes do the windows have? Single-pane windows are low on the energy-efficiency scale and may cost you money when it comes to heating and cooling the home.

Multi-pane windows are exactly what they sound like – they are single window units that include more than one pane of glass. Not only do the panes add extra insulation themselves, but these windows are filled with a gas that sits in-between the glass. The gas adds to the insulation, keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Replacing older, single-pane windows with new Energy Star multi-panes models can save you between $101 and $583 a year on energy costs, depending on the specific windows. Replacing a double-pane window with a multipane Energy Star window can also save money. The expected costs savings for these replacements are between $27 and $197 annually.

Look for multiple panes as well as evidence that the windows are energy-efficient. This might mean that the homeowner has proof that the windows are Energy Star certified or that the window glass itself has energy-efficiency ratings on it.

Window Defects

Even though energy efficiency is absolutely important when it comes to windows, it isn’t the only issue that should be on your mind. Seemingly small chips and cracks can spread and turn into a major pain later on. Inspect all of the windows (this means pulling back curtains, blinds or other window treatments) thoroughly.

Along with obvious damage, look for condensation between panes, fogging and signs that the indoor air is causing humidity problems. These issues have several different causes, some of them minor and others that may cost you more to fix. If you have any concerns, a professional window contractor can assess the water/moisture that’s accumulating and provide repair options.

Are you buying a new house with not-so-new windows? Arch Design can help.

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