People often ask: what are the best windows to buy? While there is no general answer to this question, durability and performance are important factors to consider. Certain types of windows will perform differently in different areas of the country. This guide will help you decide what windows offer the most weather protection, as well as what to avoid when shopping for new windows for cold climates and warm climates.

Best Windows for Weather Protection (by region)

Pacific Northwest

Residents in the Pacific Northwest area enjoy scenic views. Therefore, finding energy-efficient windows without sacrificing the view is essential.

Best Choices

Moisture-resistant window materials such as wood-resin composite, vinyl, and fiberglass will hold up well in the Pacific Northwest. Windows with high resistance to temperature transference are a must. Look for U-values of 0.3 or lower for the best insulation features. On the flip side, summer in this region is traditionally mild and also fairly short. Therefore, you will want to look for windows with a higher solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC).

Worst Choices

Today, most wood windows are made from soft, fast-growing species such as pine. These types of windows offer little rot resistance. If there are any imperfections in the cladding, water can leak and infiltrate the wood structure.

Southwest

The Southwest region is characterized as one with climate contrasts. The weather is typically moderate in the summer and cool in the winter. It is best to shop for insulated windows for your home to limit air leakage and heat loss when cold weather arrives.

Best Choices

Look for windows with good solar heat resistance, to protect from the intense sun in the summer months. Any SHGC below 0.3 is excellent. Spectrally selective layers, which permit visible light to pass through the glass but resist heat-causing rays, can be a worthy choice.

Worst Choices

Cheap, single-pane windows offer little solar heat resistance and can be a utility-draining nightmare for homeowners in the Southwest. This can lead to high energy bills during warm summer months and cooler winter months.

Midwest

Homes in this region face drastic weather changes, torrential rains, thrashing winds, as well as the possibility of tornados. Summers can be humid and hot, and winters oftentimes reach sub-zero temperatures.

Best Choices

Homeowners shopping for windows in the southern and central Midwest will find it beneficial to choose windows with SHGC and U-values of 0.3 or lower. People that live in particularly windy areas should also consider casement windows, as they perform better when facing high wind speeds.

Worst Choices

Avoid window frames made from conductive materials such as aluminum. While strong, aluminum windows transfer thermal energy. While single-pane windows are the poorest glass choice, double or triple pane window glass without an insulative gas filling or low-emissivity layers won’t offer significantly enhanced thermal performance, either.

Northeast

Double-hung windows made from wood are plentiful among homes in this area.

Best Choices

Wood is one of the least thermally conductive materials available, and high-quality wood windows can last literally for decades. Aim for windows with U-values and SHGCs of 0.3 or lower. There will be at least two sheets of glass separated by a gas barrier, along with low-E coatings.

Worst Choices

The worst thing a homeowner can do is take out a good-quality historical hardwood window and replace them with new windows. Window experts say these wood windows have the highest insulative qualities and were built with excellent craftsmanship, which is hard to find nowadays. Should you still be worried about efficiency and strength, consider installing storm windows instead.

Coastal Southeast

Hurricane resistance is a major consideration in this area.

Best Choices

Building codes require windows in the coastal Southeast to be resistant to impact. The most common window frame material in the south Florida area is aluminum. This is because aluminum is one of the strongest structural materials available for windows.

Worst Choices

Vinyl is weak and prone to bending. However, wood windows offer even worse weather protection in this region. The pressure resistance of wood is similar to that of vinyl, but wood windows don’t hold up well in hot, humid climates.

Additional Information: Independent Energy Ratings – National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)

Discount Window and Door of Omaha

At Discount Window and Door of Omaha, we are committed to providing the best quality doors and replacement windows. We employ the most skilled installers to ensure the highest standard of quality service. Our installers are highly trained, certified industry professionals with years of experience, including some second and third-generation employees.

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