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Some surprising help turned my long search for new windows into a low-cost (or lower-cost) reality

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I was clicking around the Groupon app one evening on my iPad when I ventured beyond the food and drink deals I normally scout to ones for home services.

I expected to find discounted housecleaning, not a significant savings on windows and installation.

But two months later, five new vinyl replacement windows graced our condo — purchased in part with a $1,999 Groupon.

My husband and I had been eyeing new windows for the rear of our home for some time.

When our century-old Chicago home was rehabbed in 1984, the majority of its windows were “updated” with aluminum windows.

Thirty years later, they were a struggle to open. If you did manage to push one up, it wouldn’t stay up.

The pane would come crashing down the second you let go of it. On every aluminum window, the balance — that handy mechanism inside a window that keeps it open — was kaput.

If that had been the only issue, we might’ve looked at simply having the balances replaced.

But the living room window was so difficult to lock that it once took two people pressing from the inside and outside to get the job done. Even then, the window was so drafty that we kept plastic film insulation on it for three years in a row.

Ironically, three even older windows remain in the front room of our condo. Since they face the street in our historic district, we’re required to replace them with exact replicas. As you’ve probably guessed, those cost a pretty penny.

Although these circa-1950s wood windows aren’t the least bit energy efficient, they still function perfectly. We’re able to endure winters thanks to storm windows and — what else — plastic film insulation.

We began our rear window research last summer by talking to a neighbor who’d replaced hers, but couldn’t get the company she’d used to call us back.

We also did some online research, and then sought an estimate from a company with great online reviews.

Talk about sticker shock: $3,400 for five vinyl windows.

We were actually set to pull the trigger — so excited about the possibility of energy efficient windows that opened — when a dental emergency wiped out our window fund.

But that fund was nearly replenished when the Groupon appeared this spring, offering five Energy Star vinyl windows valued at $3,350 for $1,999. Since that was about the same price as our nearly year old estimate, we figured it was legit.

When I called the company, it turned out to be a small local firm and I was able to chat directly with the owner. I then had a friend do some reconnaissance work on Angie’s List.

From the owner, I did learn that we’d have to pay more than the Groupon price, since four of our five windows were oversized, we wanted full instead of half screens and the bathroom window glass frosted for privacy.

Although all of that came to about $300, we were still ahead by more than $1,000, even with those extras.

Our only misstep? Not using our Discover Card.

I realized after the fact that if I’d connected to the Groupon website through ShopDiscover, and paid for the Groupon with our Discover Card, we would’ve received a 5% cash back bonus.


Our new windows were installed by the Fourth of July.

Thanks to this summer’s cool weather and the luxury of being able to open windows to gain a cross breeze, we’ve used the central air conditioning far less than normal.

We’re now planning our next home improvement project: the bathroom. And we’ll certainly be checking out daily deal sites before tearing out the tub and tile.

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