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Is replacing your windows on your home improvement wish list this year? High-quality, well-maintained windows can bring new life to your home’s appearance and keep your energy bills in check.

New windows can be pricey, but most homeowners recoup about 73% of their investment when it’s time to sell. And you get the benefit of lower energy bills and a more light-filled, attractive home in the meantime.

If you’re ready to replace your windows this year, here’s what you should know about financing your new windows and how to choose the right one for you.

How much windows financing will I need?

Many things factor into the total cost of window replacement. In 2017, the average cost for new window installation was just over $5,000, with high-end projects reaching $15,000 or more.

Here are the main things to consider when considering window financing:

  • Number of windows. National average costs for fewer than five windows range between $1,200 and $3,200, from six to 10 windows average between $3,400 and $6,500, and projects involving more than 10 windows range between $8,500 and $20,000.

  • The size of the windows. Standard window sizes come in widths of 36”, 48”, 60”, 72”, and 84”, although most window manufacturers can customize windows to suit any home. However, you’ll pay quite a bit more for unusual-sized windows than the standard ones.

  • Window panes. Window panes are rated in U values, which indicate how well they work as a heat insulator. Single glazed windows are poor insulators, rated U-1, while double and triple glazed windows do a much better job with values of U-0.5 and U-0.33 respectively. They are also more expensive than their single-pane counterparts.

  • Sashes. Vinyl sashes are cheaper than wooden ones, and they require less maintenance. However, wooden sashes have more architectural appeal, especially if you are restoring an older home.

  • Adding new windows or replacing existing ones. Obviously, your project will cost less if you’re simply replacing your windows instead of creating new wall openings to add more windows. You can expect to pay about $200 or more for each new window opening you want created and framed.

  • Access. Some contractors charge more for window installation on the second and third floors of a home than they do for first-floor windows.

You may also pay more if you choose to add security features to your new windows, or if you need your contractor to remove and dispose of your old windows.

What are my window financing options?

Unlike purely cosmetic improvements, such as repainting your home’s interior or refacing your kitchen cabinets, window replacement projects can help pay for themselves over time with lower energy bills. However, there are significant upfront costs before you can begin to reap the benefits.

You generally have four ways to pay for your window replacement project:

  • Use your savings to pay in cash.

  • Apply for a personal loan for home improvement.

  • Apply for a home equity loan.

  • Use a home improvement credit card.

Your personal budget and the cost of the project will help determine which method works best for you.

When should I pay cash for window replacement?

It’s always a good idea to pay cash for your home improvement projects if you can; you avoid the finance charges and fees that come with credit cards and loans. If your windows are in good condition and you’re just upgrading for cosmetic reasons or to improve your home’s efficiency, you may be able to wait until you can pay cash.

On the other hand, if your windows are broken, damaged, or nearing the end of their natural lifecycle, or you’re trying to sell your home and need to replace your windows in order to sell, you probably need to consider financing your project.

When should I use a personal to finance my windows?

A personal home improvement loan, or zero-equity loan, is a good option if you need money quickly for an urgent window replacement project. You don’t need any equity in your home to qualify and loans are typically available in amounts up to $35,000, more than enough to cover even the most expensive projects.

There are other advantages to using a personal home improvement loan, as well:

  • You can apply for a personal home improvement loan even if you have no equity in your home, and your home isn’t used as security for the loan. Your credit may get dinged if you don’t make your payments on time, but your home is safe from foreclosure.

  • With terms on average between 3 and 7 years, you can get monthly payments that work with your budget.

  • Fixed, predictable monthly payments help you budget responsibly for your new windows.

  • There are no application costs or hidden fees; you pay one simple loan origination fee when your loan is approved.

  • If you need to replace your windows due to a covered event under your homeowner’s policy, you can use a personal home improvement loan to pay the deductible and get started on the work without delay.

When should I use a home equity loan for windows financing?

For a major window installation project, you may want to consider a home equity loan if you’ve got enough equity in your home to cover the cost of the project. In most cases, home equity loans have the lowest interest rates of all the windows financing options.

There are few things to consider before you apply, however:

  • Your home is collateral for the loan, which means your lender can foreclose if you don’t make your payments as agreed.

  • The application and approval process is quite costly and complex; you may have to pay application fees, appraisal fees, closing costs, and even points, which are a percentage of the total loan amount, to lock in or buy down your interest rate.

  • Terms generally run between 15 and 30 years, which helps keep your monthly payments low, but it also means you’ll be paying for your new windows for years to come.

  • You may be subject to a substantial prepayment penalty if you pay your loan off early, even if you pay it off when you sell your home.

  • It can take up to six weeks to close a home equity loan, so if your windows urgently need to be replaced, this may not be a good option for you.

Home equity loans are generally best if you need a lot of money for your new windows; if you’re only replacing a few, other windows financing options may better meet your needs.

When can I use a home improvement credit card to pay for my windows?

Many lenders offer home improvement credit cards with 0% interest rates for a short period of time, usually between 6 and 18 months after you open an account. If you are only replacing a few windows and you can pay off your balance during the introductory term, you can completely avoid any finance charges for your windows.

Other reasons to consider a home improvement credit card for your new windows:

  • There are no application fees or loan origination fees associated with a home improvement credit card.

  • Approval generally takes 24 hours or less and you’ll have your card within 10 to 14 days.

  • If you’re doing some of the work yourself, credit cards are a convenient way to buy your materials and supplies.

Keep in mind, however, that payments depend on your balance each month, and once your introductory term expires, interest charges can quickly drive up your balance, making it harder to budget for your payments. Home improvement credit cards tend to be best for smaller projects that you can pay off in a short period of time, so if you are doing a major window replacement project, this may not be your best option.

In some cases, if you are using a contractor to replace your windows, you may be charged a surcharge for using a credit card, usually between 3% and 5%, to cover the contractor’s costs for accepting cards. Be sure to ask about extra fees before you pay a contractor with your home improvement credit card.

How Hearth can help with windows financing

If you’ve ruled out a home equity loan to finance your new windows, Hearth can help you find the best terms on personal home improvement loans through our broad network of lending partners.

Hearth makes it easy to get your new windows fast with a personal loan for home improvement.

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