Storm Windows vs Replacement Windows

If you’re considering storm windows vs replacement windows, you know there are many options. Both will increase the comfort and efficiency of your home or building. For replacement windows, there’s new construction and replication. For storm windows, there’s exterior and interior storm windows.

View of entire home: learn if you should replace your windows or add storm windows to your existing.

When looking at storm windows or window inserts vs full replacement, you want an upgrade from what you already have. You want to reduce noise and drafts, increase energy savings and ease of care. You’ll also want to think about how it will affect the appearance of your home and whether you want to be able to open your windows. We’ll cover all of that in this comparison.

Storm Windows vs Replacement Windows: Construction

Both replacement windows and storm windows are available in a variety of construction types. This is a huge benefit for both, but it also mean there’s an overwhelming amount of information to wade through.

Generally, replacement windows will be made of a glass that is either double- or triple-pane for insulation. Air or gas is injected between the panes for even more energy efficiency. The pane(s) are surrounded by a frame of aluminum, fiberglass, vinyl, or clad—interior of wood, exterior of one of the former.

Storm windows, both interior and exterior, are made of a glass or acrylic panel with a wood or metal frame. Storm windows are placed over your existing windows and attached to the window frame using screws, caulk, a track system, or a compression system. Some you will be able to open your window easily, some you need to remove the storm window to do so.

Shot of windows and ladder: Learn how easy it is to replace and install storm windows.

Storm Windows vs Regular Windows: Performance

Any new window will perform better than an old window alone, especially if you are coming from a single pane to a double or triple. The performance of your replacement window is going to depend on the kind you get. For specifics and a breakdown of window types, visit our blog Performance of Storm Windows vs Regular Window.

Adding storm windows to existing windows can make them perform almost like new. If you have particularly old windows, you may need to restore them before adding storm windows to see efficiency gains like new windows, but the investment is worth it.

Can storm windows block noise? Yes, storm windows can block up to 50% – 70% of outside noise and are much less expensive than soundproof replacement windows. The noise reduction of the storm window depends on its ability to air seal and the pane material and thickness.

There are many factors involved in choosing a window and a storm window, so using information from Energy Guide, Department of Energy, and PSU’s Green Lab, we’ve come up with some basics:

Performance By Category


(Lower the U-Value, better the insulation) Storm windows such as Indow inserts have U-Value of .54. Replacement double-pane with ½” air space have U-Value of .48. Replacement triple-pane glass, low-E on 2 panes, ½” paces with argon have U-Value of .23.


Interior storm window inserts can reduce outside noise by 70% (18.9 dBA) when added to single-pane and 50% (10-12 dBA) when added to double-pane windows. Replacement windows standardly reduce outside noise by approximately 25%. There are replacements optimized for sound control but they will be a speciality window higher in price.

UV Blocking

Interior storm window inserts block 98% of damaging UV rays. Single-pane windows let in 90% of UV radiation. Standard double-pane windows let in over 80%.

Man installing replacement storm window

Window Inserts vs Full Replacement: Installation & Aesthetic

Replacement windows, once installed, will have a fresh, clean look. There’s no need for restoration or continued maintenance if you go with vinyl windows over wood. A variety of window shapes are available in replacement windows.

Original windows are part of a building’s original design. Replacement windows can seem out of place compared to the rest of the home’s aesthetic, even when a custom shape is applied. If you have an older home, board approval is often needed before removing any old windows. Replication windows can be made, but those are often costly and still may not meet historic board approval.

If you are placing storm windows in your home, you can maintain the original design intention. You can also choose just one or two problem windows to upgrade. With replacement windows, you would want to upgrade all windows at once to maintain a consistent look.

Video: How Do Storm Windows Work?


scott sidler installing hardware on energy efficient windows

“24.5 years. That is the average amount of time it will take you to recover the financial investment of a new window. And since the typical life span of a replacement window is only 10-20 years, that makes replacement windows a very bad investment.”

– Scott Sidler, The Craftsman Blog

Read more case studies.

Cost of Storm Windows vs Replacement Windows

Interior storm window inserts cost on average 75% less than wood and 50% less than vinyl. That’s fully installed and compared to a full replacement, not partial. According to Remodeling, 2020 cost for:

Vinyl window replacement is $17,008

Wood window replacement is $21,495

The equivalent job for Indow window inserts would cost $4,050.

Vinyl replacement windows are the least expensive option, but they don’t last as long. And if one part breaks, the whole window has to be replaced again. Energy Star windows, which are on the higher end, are not as energy efficient as interior storm windows, so will not save as much money on bills.

woman installing interior storm window vs replacement window

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