False Energy Claims on Replacement Windows

In February of 2012, the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on a deceptive practice that has been a part of the vinyl replacement window industry for too long.  You see, many replacement window retailers claim a certain level of energy savings, when/if you replace your windows.

Seems harmless, right?  Wrong.

When people see “energy savings”, they think of their utility bills.  If someone is told that new replacement windows will save them 35%, they infer that their utility bills will be cut by…wait for it…35%!

There are two main problems, let’s take a look:

1.       “35%” – What does this mean?  Exactly 35%, up to 35%, as high as 35%?  A recent study commissioned by the FTC showed that when claims like these were worded in different ways, as I just posed…that a majority of consumers still understood the claim to be implying the exact percentage of savings.  More on that study here:

2.       Where does the 35% come from?  In ALL of my years in this industry, I have NEVER seen data to support the energy savings claims made by countless retailers.

In the last 17 years, I have NEVER seen data or evidence to support the energy savings claims made by countless window retailers.

The problem, is that the energy saving effect of a replacement window is dependent on many, many variables that can and do change from home to home.  These variables include geography, construction type, HVAC system, wall insulation and more.

The only truthful answer to the question “How much energy will I save when replacing my windows?”…is…it depends.

Heck, we haven’t even talked about how much this number can change depending on the style of window you choose.

Bottom line: There are too many variables to make generic claims.  Most times, these claims are either wishful thinking, or down right deceitful.  The FTC has taken notice of this, and thankfully, is starting to expose it.

It’s a shame really, as replacement windows WILL save you energy.  They will save you energy, and our company can prove it.  There’s a right way and a wrong way to present energy savings information to the customer.  Our approach is to utilize a computer simulation program developed for the U.S. Department of Energy called RESFEN.  But that’s a topic for another day.

Should I repair my replacement windows?

You’re sitting in the living room one day and a thought pops in your mind: I’m going to open the windows…and get a nice summer breeze!  Ahh…the thought of that refreshing summertime air cooling you off, filling your senses with a clean, crisp aroma.  OK, perhaps oversold, but you get the point.  You want to open your windows.

You proceed to the nearest window, likely a Double Hung, and lift the bottom sash upwards.  And what happens?  The sash falls right back down.  Hey, what gives?

The likely culprit is a failed balance mechanism.  More about those here.

Your next thought is: Can I get this fixed?

The answer is, yes you can…but it might be tough.  Many older windows have expired warranties.  Some balance mechanisms, especially in older wood windows, are practically impossible to repair or replace.

This is just one small example.  But the point is that the repair of replacement windows can sometimes be a challenge.

Some other reasons you may need window repair include dried or cracking sealant, fogged glass, broken locks or handles and ripped screens.

So the answer to the question, should I repair replacement windows…is absolutely yes.  But (you knew there was a but), you have to find the right company to repair it.

This might sound obvious, but there aren’t a lot of companies prepared or willing to repair a window.  Often times, it’s easier, and even cheaper…to replace the window.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore the possibility of a repair, especially if it’s a minor issue like ripped screens.

My advice: Call a replacement window retailer (like us), and ask them if they will inspect your windows and discuss your repair or replacement options.

Most companies will be glad to assist, but do realize that they want to sell you new windows.  So choose a company that gives you all the options, repair and replace, with a smile and no pressure.

And finally…with the massive buying power of companies like Clear Choice USA, prices for extremely energy efficient windows are really, really affordable.  So when choosing to repair or replace, always analyze the return on investment you’ll receive.  Typically, if the cost of the repair is more than 30% the cost of new replacement windows, we’ll suggest a replacement.

How Much Should Replacement Windows Cost?

Isn’’t it a shame that this question is SUCH a mystery.  I mean really, …how is it, in the “information age”, that people have no idea what it costs to replace their windows?

The answer: MOST replacement window companies do NOT want you to know.

Most window companies do not feature any kind of price in their advertisements or websites.  Instead, they wait until the end of a “no obligation” demonstration, to write down their price on a piece of paper, …then begin offering you discounts. The question you should ask is… why are the prices so nebulous?

Some window companies advertise one price…the cheapest price available. They don’’t advertise or talk about any of the ‘good’ windows…; just the cheapest. Let me ask you: When’s the last time you got a good deal (i.e.- quality product at a fair price) buying the absolute cheapest product? In ANYTHING?

My preference, is to deal with companies that not only offer up front pricing, but pricing that makes sense. How does pricing ‘make sense’? Multiple price points, for various quality of product.

Now …I will admit…I’m 100% biased here. Our company offers multiple price points, for windows of various energy efficiency levels.

But isn’’t this a better way? Our prices are pre-printed, and homeowners can see clearly the various options and prices available. We explain how each level affects performance and price, and genuinely try to sell the product that provides the best balance between price and value.

OK, …so how about the answer to the original question?

In a world where companies either advertise one price (like $189), or hide their pricing and reveal prices upwards of $1000.00… we’’ve found that the absolute best balance between price and value happens in the range of $440 and $550.00.

If you think about it …doesn’’t this make sense?  You’’re paying for the window to be manufactured, different glass technology and delivery costs. You’’re paying for the window to be installed, insulated around the perimeter and often trimmed in decorative metal.  Does it really seem feasible to pay $189.00 for this product and service? If it does, …does it really seem feasible to get a quality product out of this?

Conversely, …does it really seem to make sense, that a vinyl replacement window should cost $1000.00?

The answer to both questions is NO.

Great Value happens when you pay fair prices for quality product and craftsmanship. As soon as you skimp, you get what you pay for. And when companies try to hide their pricing, you often get swindled.

A good vinyl replacement window should cost between $440 and $550.00, installed.  There are many, many articles out there for you to read, take a look: [ How much should replacement windows cost? ]

And as a window retailer, I’’ve probably got a lot of enemies in ‘the club’ for talking about this. Well I don’t care. I care about providing a quality product and service, and earning a living. I happen to believe that FAIR pricing is better than the ‘cheapest, guaranteed’. It works in almost every other area of life…; why would windows be any different?