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Bigfish, Lots of excellent information in this thread.Seeing that you live in Raleigh, NC your major concern will not be heat loss (low-E glass with argon), but heat gain through your windows. Make sure that you get a "solar glazing" that cuts down on radiant heat that enters your home. It WILL dramatically cut down your air conditioning costs (not to forget additional comfort in the home)! Also, it should not add much additional cost to your project. On a retail INSTALLED basis, your additional cost should be in the + 2% to 5% range. As said earlier, mfgrs costs to dealers is ALWAYS within a 5% - 8% range for the windows alone (not including installation costs) Don't be taken by as salesman that tells you differently. Return on investment is excellent, less than 3 years, if you stay in that 2% to 5% installed cost.Another area that was mentioned briefly, but I would strongly recommend looking into is if you need to have your existing wood window frames entirely removed back to the original "stud opening." That will greatly effect the overall installation cost, but depending on the age and type of the existing original wood windows can be a major source of air infiltration, hence energy ineffeciency! Typically, "replacement vinyl" windows do little if anything to address that.The other question that no one has brought up, how long do you plan to stay in your home? That should be a question that needs answering in regards to how much do you want to invest in this project!My perspective comes having 30+ year career as a window mfgr representative (representing innumerable brands & types of windows, wood, wood alum clad, composite, vinyl, etc). It can be very confusing when it comes to window replacement, as there is a lot of misinformation given by salespeople, attempting to sell you their product.
JLM, I don't have an answer to that, unless he made an error. I think the home energy audits are most productive for older homes, those that were built when energy was cheap, building codes were (are?) weak or non-existent, HVAC systems were inefficient, or in poorer areas. Many of the homes we audited were referred to us by community aid organizations. Elderly widows, the handicapped, the people that could least afford high energy costs. Some of the houses we saw were simply energy sieves. Small-dollar improvements, say $1,500 or less, could do a lot to help those folks. I dare say most of us are not in that position, so we might look at it differently.
Guys:I ended-up deciding on the Simonton 5500, triple pane, Solar Package with Low E and argon gas. I decided upon a licensed, insured contractor that provided me with an attractive price. Installation is planned in a couple of weeks and I hope I will be happy.Ken
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