New Windows vs. Old Windows, how to decide if it's time to replace windows
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Many homeowners overlook the benefits of having high-performance windows in their houses.
Why should you worry about bad 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 blog post to compare new windows against old windows.
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, aluminum, hybrid, etc
✅ Additional features like extreme weather resistance, hail proof frame, etc
✅ Number and type of glass panes
... and others.
Suppose you purchased cheap windows from an unknown manufacturer, then it's likely that already after five years they'll be showing the signs of deterioration like frame discolouring, drafts, broken glass sealant and others.
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 start inspecting the condition of your windows every season once they passed a 10-year milestone.
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 are being one of the causes behind your house's low energy efficiency rating.
Contemporary residential windows aim to preserve energy and reduce reliance on heating or 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 bring down your energy bills by 45% in the first year alone.
<pie chart with spaces relying on heating>
Thus, the main benefits of new energy-efficient windows are:
High energy preservation.
Durability, with a service life of up to 30 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, so the drywall remains moistured.
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 for around $150 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
Being a popular myth, new windows do not affect your home's value.
By the way, you can read about the top 7 myths about windows installation in our blog post.
Before buying a house, a prospective homeowner evaluates a range of factors like the proximity to downtown, the number of shopping plazas or schools, in tandem with 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 be in a drug cartel and others 😉.
The point here is that windows alone will likely be a significant factor affecting your buyer's final decision.
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.
Exposure to noise affects our human condition in many profound ways, including:
temporary and/or permanent hearing loss
tinnitus and/or ear fullness
reduction in performance
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 space.
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 as one of the strategies for removing noise pollution is by reducing the amount of noise entering into space.
Triple glazed windows 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 reduction. 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 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.
However, keep in mind, if not appropriately treated, installing two or three panes of glass can actually amplify the noise and surface vibration.
Check with your contractor before they proceed with the installation that your windows don't have any deficiencies.
New windows feature double or triple pane windows with the possibility to install laminated glass or include 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 an excellent paragraph 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 records stated a 69% year-over-year increase in home break-ins, with 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
The current security standard for "burglar-inhibiting windows and doors" in housing construction distinguishes between three Burglary Resistance Grades.
Burglary Resistance Grade 1: Basic protection against physical force, for example, kicking and heaving
Burglary Resistance Grade 2: Protection against burglary tools such as screwdrivers, pliers and wedges
Burglary Resistance Grade 3: Additional protection against tools such as crowbars
To keep your home safe, you can equip old windows with the smart home security system from Vivint or install security video cameras from Arlo, or fit your windows with Roto NT hardware that passes the Burglary Resistance test with ease.
We fit our windows with Roto NT's hardware to provide the highest level of security to our clients.
In addition to the security system, you can replace your old glass with laminated glass, which creates an indestructible barrier for a burglar.
But as we said before, burglars don't even need to break the glass because they can jemmy the frame to open the window without making too much noise.
Even though new windows are more secure, you can improve security by installing a security camera, change your locks or upgrade your security system.
So, new windows and old windows receive one point each.
Final Score: New Windows 5:2 Old Windows
Should I replace all windows at once?
The window replacement project involves numerous steps.
From the initial measurement of your windows to the installation day, about 4-6 weeks should pass.
Unlike other home renovation projects like roofing or kitchen upscaling, window replacement may happen in phases.
One season you replace windows on the second floor.
The next season you can take on the first floor.
In the third season, you can finish replacing the basement and exterior doors.
So in total, window replacement can be stretched out over three or even four years.
Whether you want to replace all windows at once or make it a project for the next couple of years, the decision lies entirely upon your shoulders.
We recommend installing all windows at once because you begin ripping the benefits immediately after installation.
Plus, when you install all windows at once, you're likely to receive an enticing discount from the company you're contracting for the job.
Is it worth replacing windows in the house?
The short answer is – yes.
New windows provide material value like ROI or lower energy bills, and also emotional like the sense of living in a more secure, safer and quieter house.
With new windows, you can:
✔ Make your home more energy efficient
✔ Increase the value of your house
✔ Preserve heat and cool temperatures inside the rooms without overusing HVAC
✔ Protect your valuable items like furniture and flooring against fading and discolouring prematurely
✔ Increase security
✔ Operate windows flawlessly
✔ Change the visual appearance of your house by installing new custom windows
Contact us at bespoke windows to find our range of services and products that will help make your home more efficient and beautiful.