Since most homeowners should only ever need to purchase or replace their windows a few times in their life, many window customers are first time buyers. It can be hard to make an investment that large by going in blind, so this guide can teach you what to expect when replacing the windows on your home.

Window pricing, much like gas, can fluctuate wildly between regions. Further muddying the waters, some home improvement forums and websites cite prices that are way below market value in an attempt to dilute the market. To get straight to the point, a homeowner in the Delaware Valley region can expect to pay anywhere between $375 to $950 per window for a new installation.

Just like anything else, there are a lot of factors at play to take into consideration when pricing out a window installation: the actual cost of the product and the type of installation are the two biggest. When estimating the cost to install a window, you have to ask what is being removed to make way for the new window, and what extra challenges there may be to a contractor. For example, it may be more expensive to remove a third floor window than a first floor, due to the extra labor and equipment needed. You also need to factor in caulking, capping, and trim-work to the installation costs.

To get an idea of the range in window products, we will look at both ends of the cost spectrum. The least expensive window to have installed is going to be in the $375 range. This price point will get you an entry level Energy Star rated vinyl window. Each vinyl window is made up of a frame, glass pack and hardware. An entry-level window usually has hollow chambers in the frame which are not insulated. The glass pack will meet the minimum Energy Star requirements, but won’t offer any extra protection against heat loss or gain depending on the season, and air infiltration rates are usually very high on these products. The hardware is also going to be lower-end, and the frame will be constructed out of a lower grade vinyl material.

On the other end of the window pricing spectrum, the highest quality windows will be in the $700 – $950 range. These will offer a higher quality vinyl, and an appearance that is much nicer and neater. They may have a colonial bead groove frame to add texture and detail to the exterior of your home, instead of a flat profile. Adding grids or grills—the strips of vinyl in-between the individual window panes—will also bring the price up and affect the aesthetics of your exterior. A higher-end window is going to come with insulated frames that are reinforced with aluminum inside to enhance the structural integrity of the window. The glass package is also going to come with a better U-factor, better Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, much lower air infiltration and higher-grade hardware.

These windows are designed to function at a high level based on all the factors we’ve already discussed this month with our windows series. It’s a good idea to install the highest-quality window you can afford. As with everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Each of those numbers we’ve discussed that rate heat loss or gain and air infiltration through windows translate into higher energy costs the lower down the price range you go. You pay for your windows once, but you pay to heat and cool the air that leaks out of them for the life of your windows.

Many window shoppers have been homeowners for between five to ten years, who find that the subpar building products used in the construction of their homes has worn out and needs to be replaced. For these consumers, it does not make sense to replace a cheap window with another poorly performing product. It is important for consumers to do their research on not only the product they are being shown, but also on the contractor who will be performing the installation.

It’s a good idea to find a contractor who installs their windows and doors themselves, which can be tough to find in the industry. Many companies will sell the consumer whatever window they are offering at the time, but then have them installed by a subcontractor to keep their overhead costs at a minimum. You want to find an experienced contractor to do the installation, because even a high-end window won’t do its job if it’s not installed properly. The best air infiltration rating in the world won’t do you any good if the windows are not installed properly.

While we recommend getting the highest quality window that you can afford to save on energy costs down the line, there are ways to save yourself some money when purchasing new windows. Buying in quantity, for example, will bring the per window price down. Understand what accessories you need or want, and eliminate items that do not pertain to energy efficiency.  

Again, when purchasing windows, do your research to ensure that you are accessing the best quality window possible for your budget, so that you don’t pay for it in increased energy costs and discomfort down the line. Knowing what price range to expect for your area and buying windows in bulk can all help you make informed decisions and keep the costs down.