At the beginning of the month, I went down to fort collins, CO for the sustainable living fair. Being so close to my house and being a sustainable living guy myself, you’d think that I had planned to go to this fair. I did not, and was just stopping by the fair to visit a friend who was working a booth. I felt pretty dumb strolling in there and kind of kicked myself not knowing about it, but that feeling was quickly washed away as I began to take in all of the vendors booths and products. I’d been to these types of events before, and I was in a far different position because I own a home now and have needs for some of the products that are being presented at these fairs. Since we are remodeling, I actually felt like the booths had things that I was potentially interested in purchasing, so that was a nice change of pace.
One of the booths that I stopped at was a window company (I wont name them) and chatted with them a bit. They told me about their products, how they used a sustainable production method to make the frame of the window, and why that frame they made for the window is superior to their competitors. Since we are in need of a new window in the bathroom right now so we can move on with construction, I gave them my information and they said they’d give me a call. In addition to the bathroom window, we also have a future need for windows in the whole house. The old windows are all single pane, and leaded glass to boot. H and I think the windows are original to the house. Since we have all these window needs, I gave them my information and set up a time for a guy to come out and give us a slightly hard sell on some new windows.
We have gotten a previous quote for the window in the bathroom, and it was about 125 bucks. Kind of expensive, but not too bad – not nearly as bad as some of the unexpected expenses that we’ve dealt with during our renovations. The window price that we got from the company that I visited with at the sustainable living fair was approximately 10 times the cost of my other bid – for the same size window! I was floored, needless to say. After hearing his spiel, I could tell that the window was a superior product – far more energy efficient glass, better construction, would be installed (other was not, so not direct comparison), and more energy efficient frame construction. I asked for some prices on some of the other windows in the house, just to get an estimate for what we were in for sometime in the future.
While he was working up the estimates, I asked what the payback period on these windows where. He ducked the question and said that he wasn’t certain, but said that people were saving 40%, 50% off of their energy bills. In my situation, this would be about 40 dollars a month during the summer, and a currently unknown amount during the winter. That would be approximately 160 per summer, and if there were NO SAVINGS at all during the winter, bring the payback period to around nine years, when compared with the other window (we’d self install, so there would be no added cost there). Normally, that would be a payback period that I would support, but spending 1,200+ on 1 single window is a tough pill to swallow, and even more so when the window is so isolated from the rest of the house and small to boot.
We plan to be living in the house longer than nine years, so a payback period of that length is not really an issue. We also dont mind spending money on energy efficient upgrades, either. This one window however, seems to just be too much to bear. I still cant seem to find a way to justify spending that much on a window (it’s probably more than we have spent on the bathroom up to this point, and we bought 2 vanities and had the toilet flange moved (twice).
In addition to the added cost, there’s the mental accounting. We’ve already spent a ton of money on the house (last I checked, north of 20k) and this seems to be the straw that has broken the camels back. It’d be something we would consider under normal circumstances, but right now we’d rather save a bit of money and stop having to walk down to the basement to use the bathroom! After he left, we both basically said the same thing “I wouldn’t mind spending the money on the other 21 windows upstairs, but not the one in the bathroom right now”.
While I can’t predict the future, what I think will end up happening is that we will put the cheaper window in the bathroom now, and probably have it upgraded sometime in the future. There will probably be too much heat and energy lost for me to keep looking at that thing and rest easy at night.
Readers: Have you ever found a situation where you’d normally spend the money on a product that will save you money over the long term, but because of the high initial cost, balked at the option?