Windows, more than almost any other feature, give a modern home its personality. When homebuyers are asked to describe a home they've toured, they usually include references to light in their description. Women, in particular, seem highly attuned to the levels of natural light in a home.
Advances in window technology have made it possible for homeowners to greatly increase the number and size of windows in their homes without getting clobbered with higher energy bills. Modern windows are either double- or triple-glazed (meaning they have two or three layers of glass rather than one).
While it generally makes economic sense to replace old, inefficient windows, many folks opt to go a step further, expanding windows or adding even more. You can achieve a truly dramatic effect by installing semi-circular palladium windows on top of traditional rectangular windows. There are even windows that go around corners to create a bright, unbroken corner view.
Many people are also installing skylights or roof windows. Early skylights were prone to leak. But nowadays, a professional can install modern, top-of-the-line skylights that will remain water-tight for a long time to come. Don't skimp when you add skylights to your home. The best will pay off in the long run.
Choosing the right firm to install your windows is at least as important as choosing the right window. Windows must be correctly installed (i.e., straight and square) to perform at the level indicated on their rating labels. It's also important that the gaps left around the frame are carefully insulated before the trim is reinstalled.
Another issue to consider is the window sash. Some windows don't open at all. Because these kinds of windows are useless as an avenue of escape during a fire, these windows should be installed sparingly. They are, however, by far the most energy-efficient windows, making them ideal for higher, out-of-reach locations. The next most efficient windows are those that swing or crank open. When you close these windows, the window sash presses against a pliable piece of weather-stripping. When completely closed, the compressed weather-strip forms an effective seal.
Traditional sliding sashes are least efficient. A tight seal makes these windows hard to slide, so the seals are left intentionally loose. While most people focus on energy savings, maintenance savings can be even higher. Most replacement windows are made of wood or vinyl. Vinyl windows never have to be painted -- inside or out. In any painting project, whether interior or exterior, windows are the most expensive consideration. Painting frames and mullions takes time. With vinyl windows, you'll save 30-50 percent on your project costs. The combination of vinyl windows and vinyl siding can eliminate the need for exterior painting entirely.
Some people prefer the natural look of wood. From an energy standpoint, wood works as well as vinyl. But it's inferior from a maintenance cost perspective. If you want the look of wood, check faux woods out first. If you're set on the real thing, go for it. In this case, the more pleasing aesthetics may justify the higher maintenance costs.
Because modern replacement windows can have such a dramatic impact on the appearance of your home's interior and exterior, and because they can generate substantial long-term savings, they're excellent candidates for financing. You can get the improvement you seek immediately. And your monthly payments will be offset by both energy and maintenance savings. If you use a loan secured by your home, it's likely that you'll realize some tax savings as well.