Impact Windows & You
One of the things I'm constantly asked about as a Realtor®, especially by folks that haven't lived in Florida, is "Are impact windows worth the money?". Fair question given that windows (regular windows) are one of the largest ticket items for most normal homes. Add in the "impact" moniker and an already expensive item seemingly skyrockets. So why invest in impact windows?
First I want to make clear that I am not a window expert, home builder, etc. I am a Realtor® trying to constructively contribute to the accurate information online so people can contact a local dealer/vendor to discuss hurricane protection with them, and figure out if impact windows are for you.
Hurricane protection is a very large, very important industry here in SWFL. For this blog entry we're going to focus on window & door protection. Why? Because while other kinds of hurricane protection are important, we do need to focus some. Ya know?
About the most basic hurricane protection you can have are panel shutters. Whether it's homemade wood or professionally made aluminum, plastic, etc. panels essentially all work the same. When a storm comes in you take the panels out and screw them in place (there are many systems for hanging). The panels help protect your windows from the wind, rain, and debris during the storm and you take them down afterwards. Pretty simple, and mostly inexpensive. What's the down side? The fact that you have to put the shutters up and down. Panel shutters, while not complicated, are rather cumbersome and can be pretty heavy. Not to mention the amount of time it takes to put them up, and having to keep track of hardware (wingnuts, bolts, etc.) when they're down.
There is another kind of shutter that I'm more of a fan of as opposed to panels, which are roller or accordion shutters. More expensive but more convenient, essentially you put permanently hung garage doors over your windows. When not in use these shutters roll up in to their housing above, or in the case of accordion styles to the side. When a storm comes in you simply roll the shutters down over your windows & doors and lock them. There are even remote control motorized versions. While you're not at home for longer periods of time, these also make a nice security feature since there is a lock involved. What's the down side here? You still have to put them up and down when the storms come in, and due to their mechanical nature they could develop some problems rolling up and down (or side to side) over time.
Enter impact resistant windows & doors. Let's stick with the positives to start with, shall we?
The most obvious positive to start with is that they're always up. There is no putting up, taking down, hardware tracking, going up on ladders, or hoping you didn't bury your panels too deep behind the Christmas decorations in the garage. They are always ready because they are always there. Is this your vacation home down here? Don't worry your hurricane protection is always up, no need to ask the neighbors to prep your vacay home. Along that same line of thought, these are impact windows/doors which means they are more secure than your average windows; would be intruders are going to have one hell of a time trying to break in (especially unnoticed).
If you're replacing older windows (like I did) there is the chance for better energy efficiency as well. Many impact windows aren't just impact glass, they also have a layer of argon sandwiched between the panes which helps keep cool air in, and heat out. While the energy savings weren't HUGE at my own home I can tell you we don't have the A/C on nearly as high or as often, and that having the blinds open is now an option during the day unlike before. As much as I adore my Florida sunshine, it absolutely can get brutal when it get's going.
Honestly the only drawback to impact windows & doors that I have found is of course cost. According to a local vendor I know, generally impact windows cost about 40% more than a normal window or door. In other words, for every $100 you spend add another $40. While that may not sound particularly exorbitant on a "one off" small scale example, imagine what that looks like when you would have spent $20k for regular energy efficient windows... (an additional $8k). Of course you also have to pay for install on top of that.
Florida is unique in it's need for impact windows and hurricane protection, which of course brings unique opportunities to get them. There are numerous programs endorsed by the state that make getting financing for these necessities much more affordable and simple than you'd think. For instance, Ygrene ("energy" spelled backwards) is a company that fronts your loan for hurricane protection & other home improvement costs. Even more interestingly, they don't require monthly payments in a traditional sense; Ygrene actually adds (or can anyway) your payments to your property taxes. This makes paying them slightly more flexible than a traditional loan or store payment. In some cases they also offer a deferment plan for up to two years.
If you'd like more information on impact windows, shutters, etc. feel free to call me anytime at 941-202-1995 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I know local professionals I'd be happy to put you in touch with that will do an outstanding job for you. And of course if you're looking to buy or sell real estate anywhere between now to 2 years down the road, don't hesitate to contact me!