A couple of years ago, though, my neighborhood organization was offering a deferred-interest matching-funds program for exterior improvements. The money was to be given away lottery-style, with each qualifying homeowner getting up to $5000 in matching funds for qualified exterior improvements (i.e. doors, windows, sheds, garages, landscaping, but not pools or swingsets). The loan would be interest-free, and forgiven gradually over a period of five years, if the home didn’t change hands. What a deal — who doesn’t want some free money? I put together a plan: new, best-quality storm windows throughout the house (I couldn’t afford vinyl replacement windows, and the wooden panes do add some charm to the house), new vinyl windows on the back three-season porches (extending their usefulness to nearly four seasons), and a new storm door for the front of the house. In total, it cost about $8000. Lucky me, I was selected about six months after entering, and my house is now almost completely outfitted with new windows!
A few old storms remain, however — there were some small, square piano windows in each living room that couldn’t really be made better by new storm windows. They’d have to be replaced by new windows altogether if I wanted to improve their weather-resistance, and due to their odd size, I opted to leave them as-is. Also, both front porches have about a dozen of the older variety of storm windows — not really crucial, though, because the porches get closed off from the living area during the winter.
One thing that was kind of amazing after getting the new storm windows installed was how much quieter the house got. A lot quieter. And, these new storm windows didn’t shake and rattle whenever the bus drove down the street, either.
However, even with the new storm windows and their improved weather-proofing value, I still put window plastic on my windows each winter. The piano windows (with the old storms) definitely need it. The rest of the windows could probably be fine all winter without the plastic… but I still definitely notice a difference in the overall draftiness of the room. If I can feel a draft, they must be saving me more money than the $35 that I spent on the plastic film. I have to admit, too, that it’s a little bit fun to heat-shrink the film over the window with the hair-dryer until you can hardly see it anymore…