10 most valuable home improvements

Window replacement

Replacing your windows with midrange wood windows, exterior-clad in vinyl or aluminum will cost $10,926 and add $8,662 in value, 79.3% of the cost.

This project assumes you'll replace 10 windows. Choosing wood over all vinyl windows will cost you about $1,000 more, but the return is also a bit better.

You’ll also see some difference in heating and cooling bills, but the savings — up to 25% a year — will likely add up more slowly than you think. For that reason, don’t replace windows if you think you’ll recoup the cost quickly by gaining energy efficiency.

Consider new windows if yours are drafty, warped, won’t open or won’t stay open.

Source: Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvalue.com).