The Best Windows for Every Climate
You can find a tundra-like climate in Alaska, but at the same time, Hawaii’s climate is like a rainforest. And then the rest of the country is somewhere in between. If you’re a homeowner, you’ll want your home to be as energy efficient as possible — especially in regards to your specific climate—and having the right windows is key. If you’re looking for the ideal windows for where you live, read on to see what’s a good fit for your home.
In places where the temperature drops below freezing, home heating is a must. And that plays a role in the U-Factor, also known as the rate that indicates heat loss. You’ll want a window that reduces heat loss, so your best bet is to go with a multi-paned window with low emissive glass panes (also known as Low-E glass). They should have a metallic oxide coating on the inner surface to prevent your home’s heat from transferring outside. And finally, to really increase energy efficiency you can have the space between the glass filled with an inert gas like argon or krypton. These gases reduce frost and condensation from building up and further minimize the heat exchange through the window.
If you live someplace where it’s a bit warmer, you’ll be less concerned about heat escaping your home and more concerned about keeping it out. You want windows that can withstand heat. Low-E glass is good here, too, because its coating will block out some ultraviolet and infrared light, which means it decreases the amount of heat that comes in through your window. And don’t forget multi-paned glass windows here. They’re generally good for saving energy, be it hot or cold. One last thing to consider is solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), which tells you how much heat comes through your window. Look for a window that has a low SHGC and you’ll know you’ll be dealing with less solar heat.
Living in a coastal climate could mean you live someplace warm or cold, so it’s important to apply the windows that suit the elements, but that’s not the only thing you want to consider. Coastal storms can be brutal, so you’ll need windows that can best handle them: think warranty. Choose a window that has a 20-year warranty on the glass and a 10-year warranty on the other parts. This will save you some money when they get damaged. And of course you’ll want to prevent as much damage best you can, so consider installing shutters or impact-resistant windows. Shutters are usually cheaper but more time consuming to install, while impact resistant windows may offer more protection, but are more expensive. Either way, having one is better than nothing.
Like coastal climates, wet climates can be warm or cold depending on the season, so the appropriate window is important (think a U-Factor of .30 or lower and SHGC of .30 or higher), but so is the frame. In drier climates, you can get away with wooden frames, but wood doesn’t withstand water as well as vinyl. Vinyl frames are great in moderate wet climates because they don’t conduct the heat or the cold, which makes them more energy efficient for that kind of region.
Hopefully, these pointers will come in handy if you’re looking to replace your windows with something more energy efficient. There are plenty of options and science behind each one, but now that you know the basics of the best choices for your climate, you’re on your way to lower energy bills and a more comfortable home year round.