2 best ways to boost home's energy efficiency

Why replacing windows is not one of them

Even in these days of belt tightening, installing replacement windows remains a virtual mania among homeowners. Take a walk through any suburb built before 1980, and you may find that half the houses no longer have their original windows. Alas, the usual replacements — extruded PVC or "vinyl" windows — are dismayingly easy to spot, what with their wavy, cellophane-like glass and glaring white plastic frames.

Considering the impact window replacement can have on your home’s appearance, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. To wit: The last big window-replacement fad happened during the 1960s, when that era’s perceived "modern" upgrade — sliding aluminum windows — were retrofitted to countless traditional homes, from Victorians to bungalows. The aesthetic fallout from this campaign is still painfully obvious in many old neighborhoods.