As winter approaches and temperatures fall, you may be thinking of vinyl replacement windows for your Maryland home to keep those drafts and energy bills at bay.  It’s a great idea, but unfortunately there are several ways to make the wrong move when replacing your windows.  What you don’t want is to spend all that money and then have to do it again in a few years or less because you chose the wrong product or the wrong installer. Here are a few tips to avoid replacement window pitfalls.

The price isn’t the price.  You may be tempted by advertisements offering replacement windows for $189 or some other very low number.  This is a longtime sales tactic in the home improvement industry, unfortunately, and the goal is very simple: to get a salesperson into your home.  Once that happens, you’ll discover that at least one part of a proper installation, like removing the old windows, hauling them away, or capping the wood trim with aluminum, is not included in that price.  And then that salesperson will do everything possible to steer you to a higher-quality (and higher-cost) window, often using a sales pitch that takes hours.  As much as we’d all like to save money, there’s no way to get a high-quality window and a high-quality installation for less than $200 … you’ll be replacing those windows again within a few years, and that’s not saving you money.

The price still isn’t the price:  Other companies will begin with an amazingly high price.  Over the course of another very long sales pitch, the price will drop – sometimes by half or more – as the salesperson calls his or manager and deploys several other tactics.  Think about it: how would you feel if you had bought the replacement windows before the price for the very same thing was reduced by half?  Steer clear of companies using these tactics.  There are some legitimate reasons to offer a discount, like the time that’s saved by a salesperson not having to come back for a second visit, but no one should need to call a manager.  Tell the salesperson when they arrive that they’ll have one chance to give you a cost for the project.

Windows aren’t all the same: It’s not only the prices that vary widely; different replacement windows will have different features and varying levels of quality.  Even under the same brand name, most manufacturers will offer several levels of features.  We’ve already said that you don’t want the cheapest windows, and you may not need the most expensive ones either.  The answer will depend on things like how much sun or wind your home experiences and how you use certain rooms, and how often. An experienced sales consultant should guide you to the right choice, not just the most expensive one.

Installation matters: The very best window isn’t much good if it’s not measured and installed properly.  Resist the temptation to do this work yourself, or to hire a handyman or other contractor who doesn’t regularly deal with windows.  Beginning in 2015, Energy Star requirements will dictate that window manufacturers provide specific installation instructions for their products.  Your contractor should follow those instructions to make sure your windows perform as they’re designed.

There are lots of reasons to consider vinyl replacement windows: lower energy costs, ease of operation, being able to clean the outside glass from the inside and the fact that they’ll never need painting.  By asking a few questions and avoiding these window replacement pitfalls, you’ll be more comfortable in your home and will enjoy years of trouble-free service from your new windows.