Top Factors to Consider When Choosing a Window

With over 35 years combined experience in the window business, we’ve worked with many customers to find the right window for their needs. As you move forward with your research, ask yourself what factors are most important to you as a homeowner.  Is matching a particular design aesthetic your primary goal?  Do you prize extreme energy efficiency above all other considerations?  Do you prefer a window with a lifetime warranty that will last for many years to come?  How important is price in making your final decision?  We’ve created a list below of the most common factors homeowners consider when choosing new windows.  The clearer you are about what’s most important to you at the beginning of the window shopping process, the easier it will be to choose the window that best meets your needs.


For many customers, their spending plan is an important factor in determining which replacement window or door they choose. Some window companies offer only one type of replacement window; others offer a variety of brands and materials at a range of price points that work with many different budgets.  Knowing what you’re able to spend on your project will help you rule out some companies and focus on others.


Some window companies offer a variety of choices while others have only one window material or brand to offer. The goal of a one-size-fits-all window company will be to convince you that their window is the best and that it’s exactly the right window for you.  Although this may be true in some cases, it’s certainly not true in all.  There are four main materials used in residential replacement windows today:  wood, vinyl, fiberglass, and composite (a blend of more than one material, i.e. wood and vinyl).  The wider the selection of window materials to choose from, the more likely you will end up with the window that’s the best fit for your needs.

Window Quality

Let’s face it: all building materials are not created equal, and windows are no exception.  For some clients, a premium quality window is of the utmost importance; for others, not so much.  In many cases, the higher the quality, the higher the initial price tag.  Higher quality windows will often outlast other brands, so your long-term savings could certainly be worth the up-front investment.  Will you live in the home for many years to come, or are you focused on a short-term solution?  These are all things to consider when looking at the different window brands available.


Some homeowners will start their window research with a specific design aesthetic in mind.  Owners of condominiums and historic homes will usually have to follow certain guidelines when choosing which window to install.  Alternately, your home style or location may demand that you work within specific architectural parameters in order to maintain the integrity of the design; such is the case with Craftsman style homes, or regions like Cape Cod.  Only certain types of windows will look right in these instances, and you want to be sure you’re working with a window installer who can match your home’s design needs.


Energy efficiency, U-factor, Solar heat gain coefficient, double-glazed, impact resistant, egress windows, condensation resistance, air leakage, visible transmittance…are you confused yet? These are all words that can be used to describe how a window will perform.  Sometimes online research can leave you with more questions than answers.  All residential replacement windows installed today will need to meet certain basic standards for energy efficiency.  Some homes require specific performance features based on their location, like coastal impact windows for homes located within a certain distance from the ocean.  Additionally, some homeowners may opt for certain features based on what’s important to them (i.e. triple-glazed windows for more energy efficiency; windows with more sound proofing for busy urban areas).  A good window professional will explain your options in language that’s easy to understand, and will make recommendations based on the needs and wants of both home and homeowner.


The terms of a warranty can mean the difference between a good purchase and a great purchase. When choosing a window for your home, be sure to explore the different warranties available.  Common warranty lengths are:  10 year, 20 year, and lifetime.  Many companies have different warranty lengths for different parts of the window (glass seal, frame, hardware, or moving parts).  Not all warranties cover glass breakage, but you can sometimes add that at the time of purchase.  Labor and installation warranties are another aspect to watch out for.  These would usually be offered by the company that installed your windows, and are often a sign that the installer is very confident in their work.

Customer Reviews

Before making any final decisions, we HIGHLY recommend you read reviews by previous customers as part of your research. Angie’s List (which now has a free membership option), Better Business Bureau, Consumer Reports, HomeAdvisor, The Window Dog…there are many websites out there that can help you see who it is that you’ll be inviting into your home.  Read the responses from each company to get a balanced view of complaints and to see how they handle issues.  No company is perfect, and seeing how they handle problems is important should any unforeseen issues arise with your installation.

 Buying Experience

It often doesn’t take more than a couple of appointments for customers to realize that ‘buying experience’ may be one of the most important factors in choosing a window company.  Some window companies employ hard-core sales tactics or focus on bashing other window brands to make their own look better.  Their salesmen may wear you down over the course of several hours or offer a “sign now for huge savings that go away tomorrow!” sort of deal that makes you feel like you have no choice.  Other companies will aim to educate you rather than scare you, and will honor their price quote for a full 30 days after your consultation.  These companies are interested in providing a professional buying experience backed with exceptional customer service.  We encourage you to meet with more than one company so you can see the difference for yourself.

 Company Features

A final question for homeowners to ask themselves is “Who do I want to install my windows?” Do you prefer to work with a large chain business, or would you rather work with a locally-owned company?  What, if any, kind of labor and installation warranty does the company offer?  Are window installations their specialty, or is the company more of a jack-of-all trades?  Do they employ their own installers or do they subcontract their installations out?  Choose your windows and your installer wisely and you will be satisfied with your purchase for years to come.

Nicole Spano is the CEO of United Better Homes in Pawtucket, RI.

What is Price Conditioning and How is it Used Against You?

Ever heard of price conditioning?  Chances are you’ve experienced it, probably several times every day.  Here’s how it works.

Companies know that you want a “great deal”.  Who doesn’t, right?  Think of what happens every time someone you know buys a new house.  What’s the first thing they tell you?  They tell you all about how they got such a great deal.  Of course they did, nobody buys a bad deal (insert sarcasm here).

How do they know they got a “great deal” on that house?  They might compare the price they paid to the asking price, or to the Zestimate, or the price their sister paid.  That’s price conditioning. They got another price in their head, that price was higher than the price they paid so they must have gotten a great price.  It makes sense and it’s often not based in reality.

How is this used against you?

The odds are pretty good that you’re not a window expert.  You don’t know what custom windows like this cost, but everyone knows you want a good deal.  How can the company convince you that they’re offering a great deal?  Easy, they’ll show you a really bad deal and then show you how their deal is better than that.

Their deal might still be a long way from good, but if it’s better than the horrible price they showed you they’ll at least have a chance of getting you to think it’s a smart buy.

You got $40,000 worth of windows for $25,000 whoa you must be a great shopper!

You’ll see companies start with a very high price only to lower it right away with a “special sale”.  They might show you the regular price of $40,000 only to then let you know about the sale that is going on right now.  With the price at only $25,000 on sale you’d be a fool to pass up this deal.   Never mind the fact that you could get similar windows for $15,000 from someone else.

They know full well that nobody is going to buy those windows for $40,000.  They start at $40k, let you hit the ceiling, tell them to get out of their house, etc.  Then they talk you back down.  They let you know about the sale that’s going on now and the fact that they need one more order to hit their monthly goal.

They tell you that you might not have to pay that price to get $40k worth of windows.  If they could offer you a substantial discount on your order tonight would you be interested in hearing about it?  Of course you would.  Now you’re sitting back down and they have you right where they want you.  That’s price conditioning.

Do you want to hear a funny story?

One of our competitors in Maryland is a one of these old fashioned companies who uses all of the old timey tricks.  They do the half off installation and the buy 2 get one free and more.  It’s fun to listen to their radio commercials.

One of their reps met with a potential customer and gave her the full treatment.  Our rep was the next person in there that night and the customer was so upset at the other company she spent half an hour venting abut what a jerk that other guy was.

It turns out the other guy left a binder behind by accident.  In it he had probably 10 other “quotes” from brand name companies for ridiculous amounts.  Something like 10 vinyl replacement windows for $18,000, etc.

They were using that binder to try to overcome the objection about getting more quotes.  They know one thing you might say to avoid committing to their order is to say you have 2 other quotes scheduled.  They’re ready for that with their binder.  They’ll show you 5 other quotes that are much worse than theirs so you just might decide to buy their windows for $1,200 each so you don’t need to mess with window salesmen anymore.

After all, that’s a much better price than these other companies offer and you can see that for yourself right here in these quotes.  It’s not a great deal, but you might find it to be reasonable.

Why do companies operate that way?

Well, working in the home improvement business isn’t easy.  It’s especially challenging for companies with a bad value proposition.  They know if they give you time to shop around you won’t be calling them back.

You can see it in some of the comments on our other sales articles.  Salespeople write in to talk about how they need to close the deal today because customers never call them back.  The important point they’re missing is that people would call them back if they offered a good deal.  Since they don’t, their options are limited.  They can either get you to buy tonight or they can go home hungry.  Which do you think they’ll pick?

How can you avoid price conditioning?

It’s easy, you just need to keep an eye on what’s going on.  For example you probably wouldn’t buy a car without a reasonable idea of what that amount of money would get you from another manufacturer.  If you’re spending $30k on a Toyota you’d want to know what Ford would give you for $30k.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay more for one than another.  Get what you want, just do it with both eyes open.

In keeping with the car analogy does it matter that the Ford is normally $50k, but discounted to $30k if you buy today?  It shouldn’t.  What matters is what your $30k will buy you.  Do you like it more than the other options?  If so, but it and be happy.

Can I have one more real life example?

Sure, just today I was emailing with a customer who wanted external grids or Simulated Divided Lites (SDLs) in his windows.  This option costs a few bucks and it’s not the most popular, but some people prefer that over internal grids.

The pricing for the model he was looking at was $204 for the grids and he was shocked.  Keep in mind the total price for double hung windows, in beige, with Energy Star rated glass, professional measuring and installation by the manufacturer including the external grids was about $650 per window.

You’ll see folks commenting with prices much higher than that for typically white vinyl windows with internal grids all the time.  Unfortunately this customer was price conditioned by us to think that $200 per window for grids was ridiculous.

It can work both ways.  He saw our low prices for internal grids and somehow that made the prices for external grids seem too high.  He lost sight of the fact that $650 including a color, upgraded glass and external grids is not a bad number.  He was sure he “could do better”.

When considering your options its best to focus on the opportunity  cost.  If $5k spent with this company gets me this and it takes $7k with the other company to get me something similar than the first company is a better deal.  If the s

It can he hard to sort through the clutter.  Companies make it hard on purpose, but knowing is half the battle and now you know all about price conditioning.  Have fun out there!