Bright Idea: Soundproof your windows & get 30% back at tax time

By Annabelle Lee  | August 13, 2010 - 8:45AM
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I live in an apartment situated three-quarters of the way down the block, just where vehicles start slowing for the corner traffic light. I am all too familiar with the nerve-jangling squeal of high-pitched brakes.

I started seriously considering soundproof windows when my accountant informed me that, for 2009 and 2010, such windows qualify for an energy-saving tax credit

If you own your apartment, you get 30% of the cost back, up to $1,500.  (The tax credit isn’t available to renters.)

From what I could tell, the city's two soundproof window companies, Cityproof and Citiquiet, offer virtually identical windows. They are, effectively, interior storm windows that are installed behind your existing windows to reduce noise transmission.

(Because nothing looks different from the street, you don’t need landmarks approval if you live in a historic district, nor do you need co-op board approval.)

Both companies offer three levels of sound reduction, though I have no idea why anyone would choose less than the maximum. If you are bothering to have such windows installed, why not go for the greatest amount of silence?

I decided on Citiquiet, for no particular reason other than that a friend raved about the results.

So, at a cost of $1,100 each (before the tax credit), I ordered two massive double-hung windows: one for the living room and one for the bedroom.

The window guy came to measure, and I was told the windows would arrive in 4 to 6 weeks, which later became 6 to 8 weeks.

When the two installers finally came, they drilled the windows into place, then squirted caulking around the frame. It took a day to dry.

(The installers said the lion's share of business comes from construction zones -- currently, Second Avenue where the subway is going in, and downtown near the WTC site.)

The windows work even better than I expected. I barely notice the squeaky brakes. I no longer care if the building across the street, with its leafy courtyard, does its woodchipper thing. I slept right through the raucous AIDS walk, which is routed down my block.

One thing to point out: I don’t have window-mounted air conditioners.  I understand that the sound proof windows can be installed around them, though I’m not sure if the result would be as quiet.

In my case, though, this was the best money I ever spent. Tax credit or no, I'd have paid triple.

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