When it's time to get new windows, you generally know it. Your energy bills are sky high and some of your windows start rattling at the slightest provocation. However, it can cost an average of $10,000 to $20,000 to replace all the windows in your home. With a little time and effort, though, you can get free money to pay some or all the cost of replacement windows.
City, state, and federal governments often have programs that help homeowners pay for home improvements. Many of these programs are aimed at low-income homeowners who need assistance with paying for repairs, but there are some open to everyone regardless of income status.
A couple of programs to check into include:
- The Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program – The federal government dispenses money to individual states, territories, and Indian tribes to give to residents who need financial help making needed improvements to their homes. Since the money is handled at the state level, the requirements to receive assistance will vary. For instance, in Michigan, your income must be at or below the federal poverty level by at least 200 percent. To locate your state's program, visit the Department of Energy website.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Grants – HUD also issues grants to states, non-profit organizations, and sometimes directly to individuals for home improvement projects. For example, many Area Agency on Aging organizations have home repair programs designed to fix the houses of senior Americans. You can find out more about these home improvement programs by contacting the Area Agency on Aging in your state. HUD also has loan guarantee programs that help homeowners get money for repairs, though the money does have to be repaid. You can find out more about these programs at the HUD website.
- USDA Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants – This grant provides very low-income people with up to $7,500 for home repairs. It also offers an extremely low-interest loan for up to $20,000. To qualify, you must be 62 or over and have an income of at or below 50 percent of the median income in the area. More information about this program is available on the USDA website.
Forgivable Loan Programs
A forgivable loan is a type of loan where the lender may either defer repayment for a period of time or completely release the debtor from paying the money back at all. Typically, there are conditions that must be met for the person to qualify for the deferment or release. If the person fails to meet these conditions at any time, the loan will have to be repaid as normal.
These loans are available through a variety of organizations. For instance, the Neighborhood Finance Corporation has a forgivable loan that gives eligible homeowners up to $10,000 for home improvements. Up to 50 percent of the loan will be forgiven as long as the homeowner meets and adheres to the loan requirements. Sometimes employers will also offer forgivable loans as a means of attracting and keeping talent employees. If you work for a big company or have the skills headhunters are looking for, you may want to talk to your HR department or look for a job where the employer is willing to pay for some of your home repairs.
It may seem strange to ask people on the Internet to pay for your home repairs, but crowdfunding has helped many people get money for big ticket expenses like medical care and auto repairs. Someone even managed to raise over $55,000 to make potato salad.
Crowdfunding taps into people's natural inclination to help others in need. If you have a compelling enough story (e.g. helping an elderly relative stay in his or her home), you can use many of the crowdfunding sites online to raise funds for replacement windows.
Once you've obtained the cash for your window replacement, contact a window contractor at a place like New Jersey Siding & Windows Inc for assistance with picking out the best windows for your home.