Samantha Carpenter, editor of DWM’s sister publication, Shelter magazine, did a “Secret Shopper” column recently regarding a bid for replacement windows in her home. The results give interesting insights into what dealers do and do not know about the tax credits. As window manufacturers, this is a must read article and a great reminder for you to speak to your dealers to make sure they are well-informed concerning the tax credits.

Below is the article.

With the new tax credit in effect for energy-efficient windows, I thought this was the perfect time to get some bids from remodelers in my area and to see how much they knew about the tax credit available. I am in desperate need of new windows in my home.

I called three contractors in the Conway, Ark., area, and for this article I will refer to them as Contractor A, B and C.

Contractor A
I talked with Contractor A over the phone at the end of April. He uses Silverline Windows, which he explained is now owned by Andersen Windows, and the line he usually installs sports low-E tinted glass. He said that the windows usually cost $300 per opening, but the price will increase if we need something more than a basic style or safety glass. Unfortunately, my house does not have normal window sizes.

Contractor A did say that lumberyards or home centers all carry vinyl windows, but that the quality of windows at these stores are not as good as Silverline Windows-that Silverline’s vinyl is a heavier product than the ones that may be less expensive and available at a local store.

He said that he would come and measure our windows and give us a bid if we were still interested. When asked if he knew if the new tax credit applied to these windows, he said, they all do (meaning all the Silverline Windows that he uses apply).

Contractor A hasn’t come to measure, and even though he was nice and made a connection with me on the phone, after my visit with Contractor B, I’m not sure I will call him.

Contractor B

I talked with Contractor B the following day, and he and I scheduled a time for that Thursday for him to come measure my windows and to bring a window sample with him. When asked what windows he uses, he said he usually uses Harry G. Barr, and if price is an issue, then he uses Pro Windows out of Little Rock.

Contractor B (and his daughter) arrived at my house at 10 a.m., and he started out by asking me what kind of window I wanted. I explained to him that we had been through this process before in Memphis and had replaced our rotted wood windows there.

I told him that I wanted low-E glass, and he asked if I wanted them to be argon-filled as well. I played like I didn’t know anything about argon, so he explained to me that it increases the energy efficiency of the window. He asked if I wanted single-hung or double-hung, and he told me that double-hung would be more expensive. He then showed me the differences between a double-hung and single-hung with the Harry G. Barr product sample he had with him.

Contractor B then went around the house and measured all of my window openings. I have to admit that I did follow him around my house (to see how it’s done), and during this time I asked about the tax credit. The contractor said that he has read about that, but he admitted that he would have to look further into it to see which windows applied specifically. I told him that that was extremely important to me.

Contractor B and his daughter said that they would get back in touch with me with a bid. He called me back on Monday, just four days later, and he said that he would bring the bid by that afternoon or on Tuesday.

Contractor C

I had an appointment with Contractor C to visit my house that following Tuesday as well. I met him at the door, and he asked me what kind of windows I wanted. I again explained that I definitely wanted vinyl. He asked me what color, and I said white or off-white. When asked what type of window he sold, he said Harry G. Barr.

I then went with him to his truck where his window sample was housed. The window looked very similar (if not the same) to Contractor B’s sample. He explained the product to me, and that it was a double-hung. When I asked, “What’s the difference?” he simply said, “Oh, you definitely want a double-hung.”

I then asked if he knew anything about the tax credit. He told me he didn’t know a lot about it, but would get me some more information.

After showing me the windows, he told me he would measure my windows on the outside of my house, and then he would be back in touch with me with a bid.

About 30 minutes after Contractor C left, Contractor B called and said he wanted to bring his bid by my house. I told him that would be fine.

His bid had two prices. One was for single-hung windows, which were cheaper, and the second was for double-hung windows, which were about $1,300 more. In his bid, he brought me information on the tax credit and that the current ENERGY STAR® criteria would apply until June 1. Our tax savings for the single-hung would be as high as $1,200 and for the double-hung, it would be as high as $1,500.

I told him, “Honestly, I’m not sure we can replace the window by June 1. We have to save our money, but now we know where to start and how much to save.” He told me that he understood and that the tax credit was for people like us-that need a little incentive to spend money on this type of repair.

Before he left, Contractor B added, “If you get a bid, and someone comes in $1,000 under ours, I would like you to remember that I don’t think anyone else does as quality a job as we do. Our people are top-notch, and the foreman that would be working on your job will make sure everything goes smoothly.”

At press time, I don’t have Contractor C’s bid, but I have little doubt at this time which company I’m tempted to go with, and that’s Contractor B’s-he spent the time with me and he did his homework on the tax credit. Now, we just have to save the money to get the job done.


  1. It’s concerning that contractors are so unaware of these incentives … especially the intricacies like the Energy Star qualifications being valid only until June 1 and then the .30/.30 requirement in effect until 2010. That’s sad. I’m also interested in if they were talking about the warranty on the windows … a very big topic these days when so many smaller, local and regional companies seem to be going out of business because of the economic conditions.

  2. What is far more concerning, is the Frenzy of a Tax Credit Snuffing out Common Sense.
    GREEN is not Filling our Landfill with Good Working Wood Sash Units!! In FACT, Why Replace Windows, when you can “FIX Them” for a Fraction of the cost. 90% of Old windows are just in need of a Tune Up due to Wear & Tear.
    Quaker City Manufacturing has helped FIX over 40 Million Satisfied Window Owners, throughout North America since 1958! Average cost to fix a window, is $34.99 & about hour of your time. Typically, wood windows made before about 1940 are built with old growth wood. The tight grain of old growth wood makes them far more durable and rot resistant than newer wood. An energy audit company estimated that if they spent $12,000 replacing their windows, they would save $600 a year. However, that means it would be 20 years before they started to recoup what they spent to replace the windows. And chances are, in 20 years or less, those new windows would need to be replaced by new windows. Some calculations have shown that it can take as much as 240 years to recoup in energy saving what was spent on installing new windows. Weatherproofing the original windows is a much better — and much greener — approach.

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