From 2012 to 2016, the IRS offered a tax credit to homeowners who upgraded their residential windows to energy-efficient multi-pane models. Now that this opportunity has expired, the upfront cost of new windows is back up to the regular price, which can extend into five figures for a single-family home.

Of course, those new windows will eventually pay for themselves. Leaky and inefficient windows are some of the biggest contributors to the loss of treated air, and replacing those windows can put a noticeable dent in your monthly energy bills. But dropping thousands of dollars on replacement windows is daunting enough to give many homeowners pause.

Before taking the plunge, it’s important to think about all the costs and changes that new windows will bring.

All Or Nothing

Because the biggest draw to window upgrades is the potential for energy savings, it doesn’t make sense to compromise that potential. But if you don’t replace all your windows at once, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

When you only replace the windows in a few rooms, you’re just increasing the pressure on air leaks in the old windows elsewhere. Your actual energy savings will be minimal, and the leaks in your old windows could get even worse. It might seem like upgrading your windows a few at a time is a reasonable way to finance a big project, but it’s best to bite the bullet and replace them all at once.

More To It

Double-pane windows aren’t a silver bullet for savings, and you shouldn’t take for granted that your single-pane windows pose the greatest weakness to your household energy efficiency. It’s often the case that poor insulation and hidden air leaks are the factors really driving your climate control costs.

Before making an expensive commitment to new windows, consider investing in a thorough home energy audit. In this process, a professional will help you locate and measure the leaks that are really costing you. It could be that you’ll get a bigger return from sealing leaks with a $10 tube of caulk than you would from spending thousands on new windows.

Experience Matters

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the best way to save on upfront costs is to install your new windows on your own. Window installation is a job for trained professionals, and even slightly improper installation can negate a lot of your energy savings potential.

Always trust this task to a pro who will take the time to customize every window and ensure a tight seal.

Sound Off

Double-pane windows don’t just make home comfort costs lower, they make homes quieter. The additional layer muffles all sorts of outdoor sounds, sweetening the deal for homeowners who live in especially noisy areas.

But there’s a tradeoff -- they block out pleasant sounds, too. If you’ve always enjoyed the sound of rolling thunder or birds singing in the morning, you might find that your energy-efficient windows drown out those simple pleasures.

Regardless of whether you decide to upgrade, double-pane windows are just a part of an overall HVAC efficiency strategy. To take a more comprehensive approach, reach out to your local home comfort experts.