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The Winterization Question: New Windows or Insulating Shutters

November 17, 2018

With colder weather on the horizon, most homeowners are already thinking about winterizing their homes. Beyond putting those old storm windows back in or tacking on temporary plastic film to your windows, two of the most effective ways to better insulate your home are to install new windows or to put in insulating interior shutters.

But what’s better, replacing windows or installing better window treatments – particularly when you want to winterize? Let’s break it down.

The Cost of Window Replacements vs. Installing Shutters

Before talking to a window contractor, a lot of homeowners severely underestimate the cost of new glass doors and windows. For a typical home, putting in new glass (around 2 doors and 8 windows) could cost more than $30,000 off the bat, quoted by at least one contractor. That’s basically the down payment for a whole new house! Of course, brand-new windows can add to the value of your home, but it’s still a hefty price tag.

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On the other hand, installing interior shutters on windows, sidelights, and patio doors will cost a fraction of the price – usually around 75% less than the cost of installing brand-new windows. And if you’re concerned about increasing your home value, permanent plantation shutters stand out a lot more than new-ish windows during a walkthrough or open house.

What Insulates Better: New Windows or Indoor Shutters?

Your windows need to be good insulators, especially when the weather turns nasty. But how do even the thickest windows stack up against window treatments designed to insulate? Even if you upgrade to triple-pane windows, the most energy efficiency most new windows can offer is an r-value between 3.0 and 4.0. While significant, that insulation has nothing on the temperature blocking powers of Polywood® plantation shutters, which independent studies have shown to reach an R-value of over 6.0 in a double-pane window.

Lead Time & Installation of Window Replacements vs. Interior Shutters

Keep in mind that there isn’t a whole lot of time to finalize your winterizing projects before we start feeling the colder weather creeping. The lead time for replacing multiple doors and windows could be in the neighborhood of 10 weeks. By that point, you might as well go the rest of the winter with your furnace cranked up and eat the cost. Shutters, on the other hand, are much quicker to get in your home, with a lead time generally never exceeding 4-6 weeks and can be even shorter.

The lead time for putting in brand-new doors or windows could be extended by even a few more weeks if you have to get approval by your Homeowners’ Association. If your new windows require the contractors to do any work to your walls or ceiling, you might also need approval from your local zoning office as well.

Plantation shutter installation

Speaking of the installation, removing windows, and installing new ones can make a huge mess. If the framework needs to be redone, expect tons of dust, debris, and a layer of sawdust on all your furniture. Shutter installation by comparison is an almost entirely spotless job, and will be done in less than half the time.

Window Replacement Warranties vs. Shutter Warranties

Almost every reputable and insured remodeler or contractor will offer a warranty, typically around 10-20 years. That sounds great, but when you consider what that warranty does and does not cover, two decades can seem extremely short. Conversely, Polywood faux wood shutters are backed by a Lifetime Warranty, protecting the material, installation, and finish of the product.

To sum it all up, the differences between winterizing your home with new windows or with shutters are pretty blatant:

  Window Replacements Installing Shutters
Cost More than $30,000 for the entire home. Typically less than $5,000 for an average-size home.
Warranty Typically around 20 years for each window. Lifetime warranty on Polywood shutters.
Lead time 10 weeks 4-6 weeks
Installation Several hours, sometimes multiple days to replace several windows can result in heavy dust or debris. Almost all jobs are completed within just a couple of hours and produce no dust or debris.
Red tape Homeowners Association Approvals, Municipal Remodeling Approvals. None!
Energy Efficiency You may need to upgrade to higher-end windows get equivalent energy efficiency. Typical R-value of 3.0-4.0. Can block up to 50% of all heat loss & gain through your windows. Polywood offers an r-value of 6.0.

If you’re ready to make the call on how to prep your home for the colder months, call your local Sunburst store today at 877-786-2877 and we’ll give you a free in-home window design consultation.