How to Pick the Best Windows for Your Climate

3 min


When choosing windows, it isn’t enough to select a frame that looks good on your home or comes at an affordable price; you also need to choose windows based on your climate. For example, unless you live in a moderate Mediterranean environment, single-pane windows are going to cost you a fortune in heating and cooling costs. This is why it’s important that you consider all your options, and choose the one that will take advantage of your local environment, and protect you against it. Let’s learn how to pick windows based on the climate where you live.

List All of the Criteria the Windows Need to Meet

You could choose double-hung, double pane, low-E windows, as they will insulate your home and withstand high winds. However, they won’t necessarily block ultraviolet light, and you may want to block that so that your furniture and carpet don’t fade over time.

If you want to protect your privacy, maximize natural light, or minimize noise, make a note of that now so that you can choose windows that do exactly that. Also, note that this is not always a trade-off. For example, you can have windows installed that let in natural light but don’t let others see inside your home. You can also choose windows that won’t pinch your child’s fingers or those that can resist a break-in.

Understand the Terms Used to Compare Windows

The National Fenestration Rating Council or NFRC rates windows based on several scales. Many window manufacturers let the NFRC rate their windows so that customers can accurately compare different products. The U-factor measures heat flow through the window. The lower the U-factor, the better the window is at insulating your home. The solar heat gain coefficient, or SHGC, measures how much solar heat comes in.

If you’re in a cold climate, you may want that factor to be high. In San Diego, for example, you’re going to want a low rating, because you’re more concerned about keeping your home cool through most of the year. Visible transmittance, or VT, is a measure of how much natural light comes in. The higher the number, the more natural light the window lets in. A high rating means your window will let in a lot of natural light. That’s a plus if you want to minimize artificial light, but a negative if you don’t want bright sunlight streaming into your bedroom, though this could be offset by heavy drapes or blinds.

In areas like Southern California, you should typically look for windows with a low U-factor, a low SHGC number, and high VT. Then you maximize natural light while minimizing solar heating.

Ask the Local Experts

Energy efficiency is one factor to consider. However, there are quality windows that insulate your home but will eventually deform or discolor on exposure to the hot summer sun. That’s why you should talk to a local window expert.

If you live in San Diego, for instance, a company like American Vision Windows would be a great option. They understand San Diego and its climate. They won’t sell you windows that will rust on exposure to the sea breeze or degrade over the long-hot summers. They can also help you pick out affordable, attractive and energy-efficient double pane windows. Then you don’t have to pay a premium for triple-pane windows that may be overkill, though it could still help you get a rebate on your energy bills. American Vision can also help you choose windows that will maximize natural light or maximize privacy depending on your needs.

Take Installation into Account

Professional installation is essential in getting a tight seal on the windows, and that translates to the highest possible energy efficiency. However, that can’t make up for the heat loss through metal frames. Be sure to choose an installer who knows how to install wood windows, vinyl-clad windows, or whatever another type of frame you choose.

Choosing Windows for Stormy and Rainy Weather

If you live somewhere that gets a lot of precipitation or heavy winds, then tightly sealed windows are even more important. For one, they will help keep moisture out of the house. If you have too much moisture, it will end up favorizing the production of mold, and ultimately affect air quality. If you live in a particularly windy area, you also have to go with windows that will be resistant enough to deal with the elements.

There are windows for every type of climate, and some might not be the best choice depending on your area. But, if you follow these few instructions, you should be able to narrow down your options and find the best one for you. Choose the right windows for your environment and your family’s needs to get the most out of this home improvement project.

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