Are My Builder-Grade Windows Energy Efficient?

There’s nothing more crazy-making than wasted money—especially of the ongoing variety. You know: the subscription service that never got cancelled, the gym membership no one uses, the newspaper delivery that goes straight to recycling. It’s a slow financial leak. 

It’s so satisfying to find those leaks and plug them up. 

Here’s a tip: your windows might be costing you money—especially if they’re builder-grade

What do we mean by builder-grade? 

Builder-grade windows are supposed to be the windows you don’t need to think about. After all, when you moved into your home there were plenty of other things going on! So your contractor installed some stripped-down, no-frills, lower-quality windows for you. Thanks a lot. 

Builder-grade windows are usually single pane units that only open from the bottom, and they’re probably standard size. One size fits all. Builders don’t really work for you—after all, it’s a volume business. The more corners a builder can cut, the higher the profit margins. Get that builder-grade window in there and call it a day. 

These builder-grade windows are made to last just long enough that the builders are out of the picture, and they often don’t come with full warranties. Homeowners can maybe look at getting about five years out of these inferior windows—and those are five leaky, drafty years. 

A little backstory on those windows

Let’s take a time machine back to the day those windows were installed. Well, “installed” is probably a generous term. 

In the industry, the slang term for installing windows is “slapping” them in. The slapper, as it were, is the same person who did your framing. Installing windows is not their specialty. 

There are several important steps in the installation of a window—a trained installer will make sure your window is properly leveled, sealed and insulated. This takes time and expertise. 

Most building crews want to work as fast as possible to maximize their profits—a few screws in the flange and it’s good enough for them. It’s not surprising that the work is often sloppy and steps get skipped. 

Be on the lookout for these warning signs

Are there rooms in your house that are never really comfortable? Rooms that are hard to regulate the temperature within? Before you crank up the thermostat again, take a minute to wonder whether it could be that the window isn’t doing its job

Take a close look at your windows—can you see light around the edges of the sashes? Check in the middle where the two panes meet, and in the bottom corners. There’s your leak

Are your windows tough to close? Cheap windows are made with cheap parts. Cheap parts wear out quickly. Once those window mechanisms start to go, you won’t get a good seal anymore, and the cold air will rush in. 

Another big tell is fogging issues. If your glass always looks a little milky or steamy, then you have a window that’s costing you extra money each month. 

Builder-grade windows are made with cheap vinyl. Once the vinyl starts going, the seal around the glass unit fails, and water penetrates the panes. Even if you go down some Google rabbit hole on how to clean foggy windows, you’ll still be left with a drafty room. This isn’t a cleaning issue—this is a failed window. 

It’s time to level up

Windows aren’t just window dressing—they’re your partners in energy efficiency. Once you make the decision to get replacement windows, you’ll get a product that suits your climate, vinyl that won’t break down, and installation you can trust. 

You probably keep a wish list of upgrades for your home. Upgrading your builder-grade windows deserves to be in first place. Think in terms of return on investment. Get those windows upgraded now, and you won’t be throwing good money after bad. Sooner rather than later is a smart move when it comes to window replacement. 

Window Nation will walk you through the whole process. We know which windows are the most energy efficient for your climate, our installation teams are factory trained, and all of our windows and labor come with warranties. 

We’ll make sure the work is done right this time. 

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