Window installers: How to choose new views of Mount Rainier or your own yard

Puget Sound Consumers’ Checkbook undercover shoppers collected price quotes from area contractors for several typical installation jobs and found big price differences. It pays to do your homework.

CONSUMERS’ CHECKBOOK

Want a hotel room with a view? That’ll be $100 extra. Looking to spy on the sidewalk traffic at a busy restaurant? Make a reservation. Want an office that overlooks something other than the building across the alley? Get a promotion.

Windows are big deals, and you can find plenty of reasons to replace your old ones. They may have deteriorated to the point that they’re ugly or drafty. They may be difficult to open or to keep open. They may be hard to clean. You may want to minimize your home’s energy use and impact on the environment.

But new windows are very expensive deals. Although window sellers may make extravagant claims about how much their windows will reduce your energy bills, even new windows that replace old, very drafty ones won’t “pay for themselves” in energy savings.

If you’re thinking about buying new windows, know that choosing a good installer is as important as choosing the right windows. Unfortunately, in addition to sketchy claims about the environment, some companies abuse customers with high-pressure sales tactics and substandard products and installations. The nonprofit consumer group Puget Sound Consumers’ Checkbook surveyed its members and Consumer Reports subscribers about their experiences with area window replacement outfits and received a disturbing number of complaints about sloppy installation work. For the next month, Checkbook is offering free access to its ratings of window installers to Seattle Times readers via this link: checkbook.org/seattletimes/windows.

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Companies differ greatly in the quality of work they do but also in the prices they charge. Checkbook’s undercover shoppers collected…

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