GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Windows recs for rennovation?

Zins | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

We’re doing a major renovation on a home from the 50’s/60’s.

All the windows will be replaced. Before I start getting quotes, I’d appreciate some recommendations for companies that make windows at the intersection of high efficiency and affordability.

The later is obviously subjective, but I’d like to know what other people have found to be a good mix of those two goals.

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. xbcornwellco | | #1

    Alpen High Performance Products. :)

    Other folks tell the story better:

    "The pricing for the Alpen windows was not more expensive than even conventional windows despite having twice the performance, a better warranty, and similar lead times. We didn’t pay any more to get Passive-House grade windows.” - Jay Fox."

    I say this to EVERYONE we talk to! Because it’s true 🙌 - cairncollaborative

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #2


      Posting endorsements for products on GBA you are paid to promote violates the terms of use.

    2. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #6

      I'm confused--it looks like you work for Alpen, but you are signing off as Cairn Collaborative, which is Mike Horgan's company in San Louis Obispo, CA. Jay Fox appears to be the owner of a different construction company.

      I have priced Marvin Elevate triple-glazed windows against Alpen's Zenith series many times and the Alpens are always a lot more expensive. I haven't priced their Tyrol series because I have local suppliers of PVC tilt/turns. What conventional windows is Jay Fox comparing yours to?

      Edit to add: I see now that you have posted these same quotes elsewhere, where it is more clear that you are showing two separate quotes. What exactly is Cairn Collaborate "telling everone?" It seems like that would be an important part of a testimonial.

      1. buildzilla | | #8

        based on data you have seen, are marvin-elevate-triples performance comparible with alpen-zenith?

        can u recommend any local suppliers in the north-east to explore?

        alpen tyrol use rau-fipro, do you think that is a valuable feature?

        1. Expert Member
          Michael Maines | | #9

          They are reasonably similar, but it depends how finely you want to drill down.

          My former supplier of Alpen no longer carries them and I haven't looked for another. At least half of the lumberyards in New England carry Marvin.

          I haven't used reinforced PVC (i.e., rau-fipro) that I recall and I'm not sure how they compare to fiberglass windows, which as I understand are similar, just with a different resin. I imagine they are sturdier than PVC windows that don't have metal reinforcement.

          1. buildzilla | | #10

            thanks for the speedy response michael, happy memorial day!

            i hope you get a chance to partake in your holiday activity/food/drink of choice :)

            wrt suppliers, i was looking for recommendations for suppliers of upvc windows in general, not just specifically alpen.

          2. Expert Member
            Michael Maines | | #11

            For PVC windows (aka uPVC), I use Logic tilt/turns from Pinnacle Window Solutions; Schuco (and soon, Salamander) tilt/turns from Performance Building Supply, who partner with European Architectural Supply; and Mathews Brothers casements and awnings, available at most regional lumberyards. There are others but those are the ones I have experience with.

  2. benwolk | | #3


    What material would you like your window frames to be? Wood, uPVC, fiberglass? There are affordable and non-affordable lines in all those materials. If you want an overall affordable window, I'm guessing you'll want uPVC or fiberglass. Alpen does make highly insulated and cost competitive windows in uPVC and fiberglass. Innotech is another North American manufacturer that makes high quality uPVC window. They can be on the pricier side though. Fenstur Windows ( )is based in BC, Canada and they make a very reasonably priced all wood window and their aluminum clad wood windows are more expensive and subject to the current fluctuations in the aluminum market, but worth pricing out since they will last longer than all wood.

    You should also contact European Architectural Supply ( ) as they sell a range of high performance windows, including Schuco uPVC which Steve Baczek uses on a lot of his projects and has said that he's found them cost competitive with Marvin and other standard American manufacturers. They offer a high quality wood look interior film that could give you a wood appearance on the inside for a low price if thats what you are interested in.

    Hope that helps.

  3. Zins | | #4

    Thanks, all. Helpful.

    Benwolk - Fiberglass would be my preferred material, if we can get it in the budget. Any specific makers you'd recommend there? (The aforementioned Alpen being one)

    1. benwolk | | #5

      You'll have more variety and budget friendly options if you also look at uPVC windows as many companies get their uPVC extrusions from European companies like REHAU and thus more companies are able to offer high quality uPVC windows for a reasonable price. Alpen, Cascadia Windows,,, all make fiberglass windows.

  4. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #7

    Zins, the first question is what type of window operation do you want? The highest performance is usually from European-style tilt/turn windows. They have robust frames, robust hardware and seal against multiple gaskets.

    Unfortunately, salespeople and fans of Euro-style windows tout "uPVC" (unplasticized PVC) but after a lot of research I have found zero hard evidence one way or the other that their PVC is any different from what North American vinyl window manufacturers use, only a lot of talk, opinions and hearsay, so don't take that into consideration.)

    The next-best performance is going to be from other windows that seal against gaskets: casements and awnings. Actually the best-performing will be fixed windows, so use as many of those as you can.

    The lowest-performing windows are those that slide--double hungs, single-hungs and horizontal sliders. That's not to say they will perform terribly--a builder on one of my projects got to 0.4 ACH50 using Marvin Elevate double-hungs--but over time, swinging windows (or fixed windows) will have less air leakage than sliding windows.

    Other questions are what is your climate zone, what are your performance goals, do you have any large or unusually-shaped windows, and are there other factors that might influence a decision.

  5. walta100 | | #12

    Replacement windows almost never save enough fuel to recover their cost. I think they are one of the largest scams ever perpetrated.

    If your old windows are not made of steel or aluminum, I say avoid replacement. If someone has neglected to maintain wood windows and allowed them to rot repair is almost always a better choice no matter how far gone, they are. Mostly because the original window can only be original once are better suited to the style of the home and the replacements are likely generic plastic and look awkward.

    If by renovation you mean that the original siding will be replaced and new construction windows will be install at the same time, you have ventured into the swamp of the deep energy retrofit that generally is a poor option from a financial point of view. I encourage you to do the math into how little fuel you might save and how little the work is likely to change the resale price of your home before tens of thousands of dollars get spent .

    When the salesman says you will save 30% understand he will not put that in writing because it is not possible unless the old glass was missing. Windows make up about 15% of your walls and all of the walls account for less than half of you heat loss. 7% might be a better guess than 30%.


Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |