By now, most homeowners have heard of the energy and money-saving advantages of modern windows. However, most are also aware that installing new windows is hardly an inexpensive project. Here are a few things you should consider when shopping for windows, and a couple telltale signs that your current ones might be ready for replacement.

1.Window Replacement Costs

According to Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost Vs Value Report, the average cost of vinyl window replacement is $11,319; wood window replacement comes in slightly higher at $12,229. This is a pretty hefty price tag for many homeowners, but because new windows can lower energy bills. In fact, depending on where you live, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that you can save up to $501 a year by replacing old single-pane windows with new Energy Star approved models!

2.What Windows Are Good Candidates for Replacement?

Homeowners can replace their windows for any reason and at any time they choose, but the following scenarios indicate moments when replacement is a particularly good idea:

• Your windows are single pane - single pane windows are the least energy efficient and allow for the most heat transfer between inside and the outdoors.

• Your windows do not open or close properly - aside from the obvious nuisance of a window that doesn't operate smoothly, this is a sign that your current windows have passed their prime.

• Your seals have failed - the seals around windows don't last forever; if you experience drafts around the window when it is closed, it is likely that your seals have failed and you're wasting energy and money.

• Outside noises can be heard clearly - modern windows don't just reduce heat transfer, but sound transfer, too; if the noise from outdoors can be clearly heard inside, it is a sign that your current windows are outdated.

• Condensation between panes - double and triple pane windows contain a layer of air in between the glass that make them better insulators; if you notice condensation forming in between the glass panes, your windows are not functioning as they should.

3.Do You Have to Replace Windows?

Obviously, no one can force you to remove your old windows and purchase new ones. Since new windows can be costly, many homeowners might opt to keep their existing windows even if they function poorly. It is well worth the less formidable investment, however, to have malfunctioning windows repaired, as this can lead to energy savings. Additionally, if you decide to stay with the windows you have despite problems with drafts and noise, you can lessen these issues by installing heavy-duty window coverings designed to reduce heat transfer.

4.Which Windows Should You Purchase?

Currently, there are an enormous number of different window brands, models, and styles to choose from, and while the decision is ultimately going to be a matter of personal preference and budget, there are a few things you should look for.

First, though they are the oldest window material on the market, wood windows are still one of the best options around. Though they might require a little more maintenance than vinyl or aluminum windows, wood is a high-quality material that can last for decades and decades if properly cared for.

 Next, there's little use replacing old, worn out windows with windows that do not increase your home's energy efficiency! The U.S. Government's Energy Star system makes it easy to identify windows that will reduce heat transfer, lower energy bills, and save natural resources in the process. Simply look for the label when considering different window models.

Last, but certainly not least, you might consider upgrading not only your window's performance, but its appearance, too. Large window installations add value to the home and enhance its appearance. If you're going to replace your windows anyway, now is the time to consider upgrading to a bay, bow, or picture window.