Cost can vary substantially depending on which windows you select and who installs them.

The table below indicates the price variation among installation companies when Checkbook’s undercover shoppers gave them exactly the same job specifications and let them decide which brand of windows to use. You can see that for each job the highest-priced company’s quote was usually more than twice as high as the lowest quote.

You can’t get the same brands of windows from all companies, but even among companies offering the same brand company-to-company differences of $50 to $100 per window are common.

Our Ratings Tables report our price comparison scores, which show how surveyed companies compared on price for the jobs we checked. The scores show how each company’s prices compared to the average price for all companies that quoted on the same jobs. We adjusted the price comparison scores so that the average for all the companies is $100. If a company’s score is $110, for example, this means that the company’s prices were, on average, 10 percent higher than the average prices for the same jobs.

To get a good price, take the following steps—

  • Have several installers come to your home, measure your windows, recommend a replacement method, recommend a brand and model of window, explain the reasons for their recommendations, and quote prices.
  • Discuss these recommendations and ask about lower-priced alternatives. If substantially lower prices would be available for less energy-efficient windows, ask the companies to estimate the actual energy savings the more expensive windows will produce—and insist that they provide detailed information on how they calculate these estimates.
  • Decide on your final specifications. Call the companies that already provided estimates and others to get their prices for these final specifications. Get a final written proposal from each company.
  • If you are not confident that the quality of the windows themselves is comparable from company to company when the companies quote only on specifications, have the companies quote on a specific brand and model; several companies are likely to quote on some of the same brands and models.
  • If you are remodeling and will be putting windows into roughed-in openings, consider having the contractor doing the other construction work purchase and install your windows, rather than dealing with a specialized window installation outfit. Window installation companies are primarily geared to installing replacement frames rather than new construction jobs.

Check whether government programs or your utility company offer rebates or low-interest loans for installing energy-efficient windows. At the time of this writing, a federal tax credit is available for new windows installed in primary residences that meet or exceed Energy Star program requirements. The credit is 10 percent of the cost of the windows (it doesn’t cover installation costs), with a max credit of $200 per window or skylight, and up to $500 per door. The total maximum credit is $500 per family.

An excellent resource to find incentives for all types of energy-efficiency solutions is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

Our Undercover Shoppers Were Quoted Big Price Differences by Companies*
Description of job Low price Average price High price
Five double-hung replacement windows, each is 34" x 631/2", insulated vinyl, fully fusion welded, double glazing, low-E coating, argon or krypton between panes $1,750 $2,800 $4,761
Eight double-hung replacement windows, each is 36" x 48", insulated vinyl, cheapest assembly option, double glazing, cheapest air or gas fill, low-E coating $2,680 $4,240 $5,944
Six double-hung replacement windows, each is 36" x 72", insulated vinyl, fully fusion welded, double glazing, argon fill, low-E coating $2,775 $3,703 $5,130
*Job descriptions are summaries; for each job, companies were given additional detailed specifications and instructions.