People often ask: what are the best home 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)
Residents in the Pacific Northwest area enjoy scenic views. Therefore, finding energy-efficient windows without sacrificing the view is essential.
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 energy star or 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).
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.
The Southwest region is characterized as one with climate contrasts. The weather is typically moderate in the summer and cool in the winter. Shop for insulated windows for your home to limit cold air from entering and heat loss when cold weather arrives.
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.
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.
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.
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 and prevent air leakage.
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-pane windows or triple-pane window glass without an insulative gas filling or low-emissivity layers won’t offer significantly enhanced thermal performance, either.
Double-hung windows made from wood are plentiful among homes in this area.
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, they have at least two sheets of glass separated by a gas barrier, along with low-E coatings.
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.
Hurricane resistance is a major consideration in this area.
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.
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.
When it comes to weather protection, the choice of window material plays a crucial role in determining durability and resistance.
- Vinyl: Vinyl windows are popular for their low maintenance and excellent resistance to moisture, making them suitable for humid climates. They are also energy-efficient and provide good insulation against heat and cold.
- Wood: Wood windows offer a classic aesthetic appeal and can be customized to match the architectural style of a home. However, they require more maintenance to protect against moisture damage and may not be as durable as other materials.
- Aluminum: Aluminum windows are lightweight and strong, making them ideal for areas prone to high winds or storms. They are resistant to rust and corrosion but may not provide the best insulation without thermal breaks.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass windows combine strength and durability with low maintenance requirements. They offer excellent thermal performance and are resistant to warping, swelling, and rotting, making them suitable for various climates.
- Composite Materials: Composite windows, made from a combination of materials like wood fibers and PVC, offer the benefits of both wood and vinyl. They provide good insulation and weather resistance while requiring minimal maintenance.
The choice of glass in windows significantly impacts their ability to provide weather protection, energy efficiency, and comfort.
- Double-Pane Glass: Double-pane windows consist of two layers of glass with a sealed space between them, providing better insulation than single-pane windows.
- Triple-Pane Glass: Triple-pane windows offer even greater energy efficiency by adding a third layer of glass and additional airspace for insulation. They are effective in reducing heat loss and minimizing condensation.
- Low-E Glass: Low-emissivity (Low-E) coatings are applied to window glass to reduce heat transfer and UV radiation while allowing visible light to pass through. They help maintain indoor comfort and protect furnishings from fading.
- Impact-Resistant Glass: Impact-resistant windows are designed to withstand strong winds, flying debris, and attempted break-ins. They are constructed with laminated glass layers that hold together even when shattered, providing enhanced safety and security.
Proper maintenance is essential for ensuring the long-term performance and weather protection of windows.
- Regular Cleaning: Clean windows regularly to remove dirt, dust, and debris that can accumulate on the glass and frames. Use mild detergent and water to avoid damaging the window materials.
- Inspect Seals and Weather-Stripping: Periodically inspect seals, weather-stripping, and caulking around windows for signs of wear or damage. Replace any worn-out components to maintain a tight seal and prevent air and water infiltration.
- Trim Vegetation: Trim trees, shrubs, and other vegetation around windows to prevent branches from rubbing against the glass or causing damage during storms. This helps preserve the integrity of the windows and reduces the risk of leaks.
Proper installation is critical for maximizing the weather protection and performance of windows.
- Professional Installation: Hire experienced professionals for window installation to ensure proper fitting, sealing, and alignment. Improperly installed windows may lead to air and water leaks, drafts, and structural issues.
- Follow Manufacturer Guidelines: Adhere to the manufacturer’s installation instructions and recommendations to maintain warranty coverage and optimize the longevity of the windows.
- Sealant and Insulation: Use high-quality sealant and insulation materials during installation to create a barrier against air and moisture infiltration. Properly sealed windows contribute to energy efficiency and indoor comfort.
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 Omaha door and window installers are highly trained, certified industry professionals with years of experience, including some second and third-generation employees.