We're on a really tight budget but our east and west-facing house has big temperature swings. Window replacement seems logical. There are four 4 x 6's, three 4 x 8's, and two 3 x 4' windows. We're pretty handy and will remove and replace the windows ourselves. What window type and budget do you suggest?
Andre M. ~ Texarkana, Arkansas
Andre, there are several factors that can cause temperature fluctuations within your house, and although new windows may be a simple fix, there might be other solutions to your problem. Although old and inefficient windows can cause both unwanted heat loss and heat gain within your house, your home may also lack adequate insulation in the walls and attic. Keep in mind that your old windows may not be functioning as designed because they were improperly installed. Even quality windows can fail if they are not sealed and insulated around the frame's perimeter, which is where a significant amount of home heat loss occurs.
If your home's existing windows have only a single pane of glass, or they have visible damage to the frames, then replacing them with new energy efficient windows would be a wise idea. You can expect to pay between $300-$500 for a quality vinyl window, which would have an insulated frame, double-paned glass, and a Low-E heat deflecting glass coating. A vinyl window with a fixed pane of glass will cost a bit less, while those window models with operable sashes may cost slightly more.
If you are going to install your new windows yourself, then I encourage you to do some research about window installation. As I said before, improper installation techniques are what cause most windows to fail over the long haul. Most vinyl windows are manufactured with an exterior nailing fin, which gives the window installer a straight forward way to attach the window frame to the exterior of the house. Remember, it is important to not only apply a bead of caulking under the nailing fin before installing the window, but you must also cover the nailing fin with some flashing tape after the window is nailed in place. Sealing your new windows properly will keep both rain water and drafts from entering your home, which can help regulate your home's inside temperature during hot summer days and cold winter nights. Once you have installed the new windows and sealed them tightly on the outside, then you should use some low-expanding foam insulation to fill in the gaps around the window frame on the inside.
Before you begin your window replacement project, I would visit a window showroom or building center in the Texarkana area and price out some different window brands and options. Remember, a quality window can last for decades and help improve the overall energy efficiency of your home, while a poorly built window may not help solve your problem at all.