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Style, energy efficiency, size, materials - all these things and others come into play when choosing replacement windows.

Here are some tips:

- Buy the style of window that suits the style of your home. If your home is basically a Cape Cod style, for instance, you may want to choose double-hung windows.

- Almost all styles of windows allow for any type of technology, so don't let that stop you from choosing an energy-efficient window that's appropriate.

If one or two sides of your home are more susceptible to climatic extremes than the other sides, it may be possible to have windows that look the same but are more energy efficient in one area and windows that are less so in another.

- If you are replacing windows, it may not be necessary to use the same type of window as you're removing.

For instance, if you have old aluminum casement (crank-out) windows, you may be able to replace them with double- hung or sliding windows if you choose.

- Keep "standard" sizes in mind when shopping for replacement windows. Standard refers to common sizes produced by window manufacturers, sort of like "off-the-rack" clothes. All windows can be custom made, but you'll save money if you replace windows with standard sizes that don't have to be custom made.

- Keep cleaning in mind. An open style of window — one without muntins (those cross bars) — is easier to clean. Also, consider how easy or hard it will be to clean the outside of the window.

This is especially true of a second-floor window. You may want to choose a style in which the window can tilt in or revolve.

If you like the look of smaller panes (formed by those muntins) but don't like the idea of having to clean each small area, buy windows in which all the muntins can be removed easily at once to make cleaning a breeze.

- Maintenance also should be a prime consideration in choosing windows.

This means more than cleaning the glass. It refers to how often you want to paint your windows.

All those muntins, for instance, may have to be painted every few years if you have wood windows.

You can get windows that have a baked-on paint that will last much longer than standard paints, but you may also want to consider painted aluminum or vinyl or polymer-coated windows in which there is relatively little maintenance ever required.

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