The windows on your home have an impact on both the interior and exterior of a home. They are designed to shield it (and you) from the elements and filter out noise. Therefore, purchasing new windows can not only enhance the look of your home, it can also make it quieter and less drafty. Additionally, new windows are easier to clean and maintain than older models.
There are two different types of replacement windows. There are those wherein the original frame can be used and there are new construction windows that include a new frame. If you choose to use the existing frame, it must not be warped or rotted. In this case, the windows would come with new sashes, side jambs, and trim.
If you need to replace the frame along with the window, there are three main types to choose from. They are vinyl, wood, and fiberglass. Vinyl is the least expensive, usually comes in white, and cannot be painted. For more of a selection, you can choose wood or composite. This allows you to pick a style that matches your home and paint it whatever color you choose. Fiberglass is relatively new to the market. They do not need to be painted, but can be if you choose. While they are made with fiberglass needles embedded in the plastic to make it stronger and stiffer, there are not many brands available.
Once you have decided on a frame type, you must then determine the number of panes each window should have, how they are hinged, how they operate, and how much ventilation each window will offer. The two most popular styles are casement and double hung. Casement windows are similar to doors in that the glass is hinged on one side. In order to open them, you must use a crank. They provide excellent ventilation and are easy to clean. However, you cannot place a window air conditioner in a casement window.
Double hung windows are also easy to clean and allow for window air conditioners. To open, the lower inside sash slides up and an upper outside sash slides down. Therefore, they provide improved air circulation. Double hung windows are a better choice if you live in a cold, wet climate as they have been proven to be better out keeping out chilly air and rain. You can also choose single hung, where only the bottom opens, awning, hopper, or fixed windows for when you only want light and not air.
Regardless of the window style that you choose, be sure to enquire as to the Energy Star rating, as well as whether or not it has both a low-E rating and argon-filled glass for high efficiency. Bear in mind that while the cost may be significantly high upfront, you will save on your energy bill and over time, the windows will end up paying for themselves. If you find that this is not the case, you may also want to look at replacement doors and how they can help improve the living conditions in your home.