Replacements can add value and energy efficiency, By Lori Harlan Falling leaves and a cool breeze remind you that autumn is here, and it’s time to turn back the clocks. If that cool breeze blows across your living room, it might also be time to replace the windows. As windows age, the seals deteriorate, creating leaks that allow heat to escape and cold air to enter. Replacing windows can improve the value, energy efficiency, and beauty of a home, both inside and out. Sy Aimen of Sy’s Window Systems, Inc. recommends homeowners examine drafty windows in summer or fall and look for leaks. Ailing windows - those under the weather, so to speak - should be replaced. How many windows are replaced depends largely on the buyer’s budget. People can replace all the windows in the house, a select few or just one. For maximum comfort and energy efficiency, however, all the windows should be replaced. “Some people ask to have just the windows on the north side of the house replaced,” Aimen says. “I will do whatever they want, but I joke with them, Do you think the south side will be warm? What about the east and west?’ To keep a house warm in the winter, you have to get all the windows replaced.” The quality and workmanship of replacement windows are essential, according to Aimen. Most windows come with some type of warranty, but he suggests customers be wary of offers that sound too good to be true. “Lifetime warranties? Whose lifetime?” Aimen asks. “Companies close. Suppliers go out of business. You cannot make a lifetime guarantee.” Instead, his warranties cover the windows as long as the customer owns the property. “People fall for gimmicks, but nothing is free in this world. You always end up paying one way or another.” Prices can range from $150 to $300 per window, but the total expense depends on the number of windows, which varies from house to house, depending on size and age, according to Gene Babbs from Carter Bros. Lumber. He estimates most older homes have eight to nine windows. While Babbs says most customers consider word-of-mouth referrals and brand names when choosing a dealer, Aimen recommends doing a more thorough background check. “Consider how long the dealer has been in business and check references. Call four to five customers before you do business with someone,” Aimen says. After choosing a dealer, homeowners then have to decide which type of windows they prefer. Options include bay, bow, double hung, casement, sliding, awning, basement and garden windows. Popular features include double-strength glass, which blocks heat and protects curtains and furniture from fading, as well as safety features such as double locks and security hatches, which allow the windows to be open only a few inches. While styles vary, most replacement windows are vinyl, which means little to no maintenance. Old wooden windows had to be painted and scraped, a chore that lead some homeowners to inadvertently paint the windows shut. Albert Jefferies discovered windows that had been painted shut by a previous owner when he and his wife, Joyce, bought an older house about a year ago. He recently replaced the old single-pane windows. The new windows tilt in for easy cleaning and have built-in screens. Jefferies, who used to work in construction, bought the mid-priced windows at a local discount store and installed them himself. Choosing windows from a local dealer was important to him. “If you ever need to replace a lock or pane, you don’t want to call all across the country,” Jefferies says.