If you want to protect your home from bad weather and improve your energy efficiency, you might have heard that storm windows are an affordable way to do this. You’ve probably also heard that it’s more worthwhile to go for a complete window replacement. It’s a tough call, when you have to juggle your budget, long-term costs, and comfort.
To figure out which option is right for you, here is the down-low on the main differences between storm windows and replacement windows, and what each option will cost.
What Are Storm Windows?
Storm windows are removable window and screen panels that are mounted outside or inside of the existing windows of a house. They are installed to add extra protection from the elements, and give you more energy efficiency and soundproofing.
Storm windows are made of two or three panels of glass or plastic, set into tracks that allow them to slide up and down. Glass gives you great visibility and durability, as it’s a lot more scratch-resistant than plastic window panes. It’s also more expensive, heavier, and more fragile than plastic storm windows.
Storm windows can be custom-made to fit over whichever of your current windows needs extra protection. They usually fit on the exterior of your existing windows, but you can choose interior storm windows as well. They come in either double-track or triple-track configurations.
You have a number of style options to choose from if you want storm window replacements.
- Aluminum, vinyl or wood frames
- Plastic (acrylic) or glass panes, with or without screens
- Interior or exterior installation
- Two-track or triple-track sliders
The typical aluminum “triple-track” — so called because it holds two glass sashes and one screen that slide up and down on separate tracks — won’t win any beauty contests, but it can also play an important preservation role by protecting valued old-house windows from the elements.
Storm Window Replacements vs Other Replacements
If you’re pondering whether to install storm window replacements or other types, first make sure you know exactly what is being compared.
Storm windows refer to window panels on slider tracks that are installed on the outside of primary house windows. Replacement windows refer to a number of different types of installations where an old window is taken out completely+ and replaced by a new one.
There are a few important questions you should ask when deciding whether to get storm windows or other replacement windows.
- What’s your budget? If you’re on a tight budget, storm windows are more affordable than a complete replacement.
- Are you experienced with DIY? If so, you can probably install your own storm windows, but replacement windows should be left for the experts.
- How old are your existing windows? If your windows are 30 years older or more, new replacement windows will save you money in the long run.
Storm window replacement costs are lower than other window replacement costs, but they have plenty of the same advantages that make them worthwhile. You can see a list of the main advantages and disadvantages of storm windows and other types below:
Storm Windows Advantages
- More affordable
- Reduces the airflow for good insulation
- Easy to install – you can DIY the install if you’re handy
- Helps to reduce noise
Storm Windows Disadvantages
- Hard to clean without removing completely
- Less energy efficient
- Less aesthetically attractive than a new window
- Must be replaced every 2-3 years
- Must be maintained to avoid weathering and oxidation
- Tracks must be lubricated and cleaned
- Can trap moisture on the window interior
- They let less light through
Replacement Windows Advantages
- A more permanent solution than storm windows
- Better energy efficiency
- Better insulation and climate control
- Low maintenance
- Can pick the style
- Increases home’s value
- Reduces outside noise
- Lets in more light
Replacement Windows Disadvantages
- More expensive
- Needs expert installation
- Messy and time-consuming project
Storm Window Replacements Cost
Storm replacement windows cost about $335 to $3,500 including installation, depending on size, quality, and individual professional installers.
Here is a sampling of prices we found from various suppliers (materials only):
|32" x 63"
|36" x 47"
|28" x 63"
|40" x 55"
Good-quality storm window replacements cost way less than many other types of replacement windows. Even though they’re designed to fit over existing windows, they can prevent air infiltration effectively.
They can be a hassle, however, if you like opening and closing your windows. They also tend to allow less light into your home.
If you have windows over 30 years old installed in your house, there’s no getting around it – the best way to improve YOUR energy efficiency is to replace them with brand-new, energy-efficient windows. If you can’t currently afford a full replacement, installing good storm windows and weather-protecting the old ones will be your easiest option.