New Windows vs. Old Windows, how to decide if it's time to replace windows
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
Many homeowners overlook the benefits of having high-performance windows in their houses.
Though, why should you worry about old windows in your house?
Well, windows that seem to be "okay-looking" can actually conceal many problems.
In order for your windows to serve for twenty or more years, it is necessary to carry a seasonal inspection for the signs of possible defects.
In the pool of so much information from companies advocating for the need to replace windows and bloggers who criticize companies for hyping this necessity, it's hard to make an informative decision.
That's why we wrote this article to help make up your mind when deciding if the new windows worth it. We used hard facts and commonsense reasoning to justify the choice in favour of new windows.
A winner is announced based on the number of points given after each round for demonstrating the best results.
How often should you replace the windows in your house?
The average lifespan of residential home windows is 20-25 years, with proper servicing, of course.
But your windows can reach their end of service prematurely, much depending on the following factors:
✅ Profile type and manufacturer
✅ Profile material like uPVC, wood, metal, aluminium, hybrid, etc
✅ Additional features like extreme weather resistance, hail proof frame, etc
✅ Number and type of glass panes
... and others.
Buying your windows from an unknown manufacturer for as cheap as chips put them at risk of showing the signs of deterioration already upon a five-year mark; the signs like frame discolouring, drafts, broken glass sealant and others are not a rarity in poor quality windows.
This will force you to replace windows earlier.
Geography and extreme weather events impact the window's durability as well.
Regions with mild climates don't stress windows too much, but places like Alberta, where winters are frigid and summers are hot, continually test the windows' ability to withstand extreme conditions.
For this reason, you need to inspect your windows every season once they passed a 10-year mark.
The best time of year to find problems with your windows is - winter. We talked about winter windows installation in our previous blog post.
What is the main advantage of having good windows in your house?
New windows are the solution to many visible and invisible problems.
More energy-efficient windows can immediately reduce your energy bills by 45%, or windows with triple-pane glass can decrease the penetration of outside noise by 50%.
Round #1: Energy Efficiency
New Windows 1 : 0 Old Windows
According to Canada's National Statistics Agency, Canadian households live in houses between 20-60 years old.
Since 1960, a document containing the National Building Code has been revised every five years to reflect contemporary building practices and shifts towards greener construction trends.
At the time of introducing stricter energy efficiency regulations in 2003, less than one percent of homes scored six out of 10 stars based on the star rating scale.
If your house was built before 2003, likely it falls at the very right of the energy efficiency scale.
All modern homes score an A90 rating.
Windows may be one of the causes behind your house's low energy efficiency rating.
Contemporary residential windows aim to preserve energy and reduce reliance on heating and cooling systems during peak times.
This is one of the main advantages of new windows over the old ones. They meet the new stricter energy efficiency standards.
Did you know that windows alone can cause losing around 18 to 35 percent of heat?
Given that 57% of your energy goes to heat, cool or ventilate the space, new energy-efficient windows can lower your energy bills by 45% in the first year alone.
Thus, the main benefits of new energy-efficient windows are:
High energy preservation.
Durability, with a service life of up to 40 years, energy-smart glass retains its properties twice longer than the old ones.
Attaining a 50% noise reduction.
Offer more safety and security.
Condensation never occurs on new energy-efficient windows unless they were installed inappropriately.
How to check if your window is energy efficient?
You can visually recognize an energy-efficient window by taking a close look at the glass.
All energy-efficient glass units have a green tint, while non-energy efficient glass has a blue tint.
Plus, every glass unit must be coming with proper documentation stating the glass has been assessed by a certified technician, and it conforms to the Energy Star standards.
If the label is absent from the glass surface, you're likely a victim of a fraudulent scheme.
If the company still asserts that the glass units are energy-efficient, you can use another secret technique.
Use a lighter! Bring it to the glass and watch the flame – one of the glass areas will definitely have a different colour or shade—for example, raspberry.
The new windows win this round.
Round #2: Condensation & Leakage
New Windows 2 : 0 Old Windows
Condensation is a major problem in houses built 20-60 years ago or houses with too much humidity in the rooms, or little air circulation.
It occurs when humidity in the air comes in contact with a cold surface like glass or wall; it condenses from gas to a liquid state again.
By neglecting a problem of condensation, your house is at the risk of being exposed to mould and mildew.
Mould is a fungus that grows both indoors and outdoors. It produces spores, which spread by floating around in the air. Mould spores flourish in moist and warm environments, so when they land on a damp spot, they begin to grow. As they grow, they may digest the material they are growing on. - source is medical news today.
Mould can grow on virtually any material and surface like behind wardrobes, carpets, insulation or wood, where air doesn't circulate freely.
The humidity level in a room above 60% creates ideal conditions for moulds to start to flourish and grow.
It takes under 12 hours to develop into a critical issue that can damage your house's structure, as long as moisture and oxygen are presented.
The ideal humidity for health and comfort is 30-50%; you can use a smart hygrometer like SensorPush for around $100 to monitor the humidity level in your home.
Mould can also grow between glass panes.
It's a common issue found in old windows due to a failed sealant that allows moisture to enter.
In old, cheap or poorly assembled units, the sealant becomes loose over time.
Allowing large amounts of water and moisture occupied in a window frame will eventually affect the air gap seal properties surrounding the two or three panes of glass.
If it's a wooden frame, then condensation will cause it to rot.
New double or triple glazed windows feature a spacer – a component full of desiccant.
This highly-absorptive material sucks up any moisture in the air gap.
It's crucial to ensure your windows don't have a defective sealant, as even mild imperfection will quickly lead to moist air and accumulation of water between the panes.
If your double or triple glazed windows have condensation, then it's a sign of a failed sealant; you need to renew or replace it without delays.
Round #3: Drafts
New Windows 2 : 0 Old Windows
Drafts can occur in both new and old windows.
However, old windows are more prone to drafts because of brittle or fallen glazing.
If you have wood windows, they can shrink and wear with age, admitting more cold air.
Air leakage makes your room uncomfortably cold, while your energy bills uncomfortably large.
There's no winner because even new windows may have worn-out gaskets and weather stripping.
Despite new windows being less prone to drafts, your contractor may shirk from proper installation, so the cold air will be circulating inside your house no matter what.
Neither of the windows gets the point here.
Round #4: Visual Appearance
New Windows 3 : 1 Old Windows
Many homeowners deliberately style and design their exterior and interior with antique touch.
They cover benches in moss, dry out the paint on wooden windows for a brittle look, and make their floors creak like in horror movies.
I agree that vintage designs take us back in time, where jazz music could be heard from every corner and Old Buicks ruled the bustling downtown streets.
Each of us has own preferences regarding an ideal design because the taste is entirely subjective.
Therefore, it's up to you to decide on the winner of this round.
To me, new and old windows receive one point each.
Round #5: Value Of Your House
New Windows 3 : 1 Old Windows
It's a popular myth that new windows affect your home's value.
The myth is neither true nor false, but you need to know something...
By the way, you can read about the top 7 myths about windows installation in our blog post.
Before buying a house, a prospective buyer evaluates a range of factors like the house's proximity to downtown, shopping plazas or schools, and dozens of other factors.
Once a friend of mine compiled a validation list that contained 50 qualifying criteria.
He evaluated neighbourhoods, schools, the likelihood of his neighbour to be in a drug cartel and others 😉.
The point here is that windows alone will not be a major influencing factor.
But they can contribute to the overall impression of your house. If a homebuyer is looking for an energy-efficient, quiet house with rooms filled with plenty of natural light, then your new windows will tick off that box.
Several studies suggest an ROI for high-performance uPVC windows is 73.4% and 70.8% for wood windows replacement.
The group derived the ROI by calculating the average cost of $12,000 to replace windows in a medium-sized house.
According to the CBC report, this brings us to $9,672, which you can get back at resale for the window replacement project.
Neither of the windows gets the point here.
Round #6: Noise Reduction
New Windows 4 : 1 Old Windows
When we speak with families who shop for new windows, we rarely hear from them questions about windows' acoustic performance.
They typically ask about energy efficiency, ROI, styles and how well the windows preserve heat.
But did you know that exposure to noise affects our human condition in many profound ways? Some health risks include:
stress / annoyance
sleep disturbance, fatigue
increase in blood pressure/hypertension
issues with learning and education
With so many people working from home these days, it is vital to consider the amount of noise in your home office.
World Health Organization (WHO) states in their guidelines that humans communicate in the range of 60 - 70 dB, while 68 dB is considered to be a safe and acceptable noise level for constant exposure.
Canadian Hearing Services recommends removing noise pollution in your home by placing sound barriers such as triple-glazed windows; they attain a 50% noise reduction, which is a great solution to tackle the noise problem.
Bespoke Windows assemble windows in many variations to achieve a high level of noise cancelling. For example, we mix glass panes with a variable thickness on different distances to reduce the noise coming into your home.
A graph below shows you the type of glass we use in our Tilt & Turn windows, and how it reduces the outside noise that enters your home.
Speak with an expert about noise problems in your home, and we'll find a fix for your problem. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
New windows may also feature the laminated glass with wider air space to disrupt the sound waves.
This allows blocking different sound frequencies, giving you better protection against noise.
New windows win here again.
Round #7: Security
New Windows 5 : 2 Old Windows
Harry Houdini wrote in his book The Right Way to Do Wrong:
The weakest point about a house is usually a window, and for that reason, it is one of the most convenient modes of entry for the burglar. It's so foolishly designed that it must have been invented by somebody who wanted to break in with as little trouble as possible.
According to several studies, 26% of burglars enter a house through windows.
In Alberta, the police recorded a 69% year-over-year increase in home break-ins, while windows being the second most preferred entry point for burglars.
Neighbours typically ignore the sounds of breaking glass or the sounds resembling the thud of hummer if they hear it once.
But with old windows, a burglar doesn't even need to break the glass, as they can simply jemmy the window's frame or hardware.
That's why hardware and type of glass play a critical role in making your window burglarproof.
*5 common points of entry for burglars into a house
*break down of the most common ways to break in a house