When you're looking at windows, you want to make sure you're getting the right type for the climate and the area in which you live. That's why Consumer Reports' tests focus on how well vinyl, wood, and composite windows stand up to the elements.
First, there's a wind-resistance test and rain test. Each window is showered with five gallons of water per square foot for an hour. The test continues while slowly increasing the wind velocity until water leaks anywhere inside the window.
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A window can be very tight when it's warm, but when it gets cold, it could actually leak a lot.
The Pella 350 Series Vinyl window was the only window that rated excellent in all of the performance tests. CR's 3x5-foot basic window costs about $415.
There are less expensive options for more temperate areas with less wind and rain. Among them, the $285 Simonton Prism Window.
The 4300 Jeld-Wen V-2500 series window is a good option for colder regions.
Bottom line? Replacement windows can cut your heating and cooling costs, but don't bank on drastic savings.
A new window may help you save on your gas and electric bills, but it may take decades before you offset the cost of those new windows.
Planning on selling your home soon? The National Association of Realtors estimates you'd recover nearly 80 percent of your costs installing new vinyl windows. You can visit ConsumerReports.org to get more information on how to choose the best window for your home.