Which Windows Are Right For A Hot Climate?

With 2016 well on the way to setting the record for the hottest year ever, homeowners, especially those in hot climates, are looking for ways to keep cool at home without causing their energy bills to also reach record highs. If you can relate, then you may want to start by looking at your windows. Ideally, your windows will let the light in, but keep heat out. That way you can benefit from the natural light through your windows without your air conditioner having to compete with additional heat. If your windows aren't up to the job, it may be time to look into replacement windows. Take a look at the features you should be looking for if you need energy-efficient windows in a hot climate.

Frames

The first thing that you need to decide is what kind of frames will give you the best performance. Your main choices for window frame materials are wood, aluminum, vinyl, and fiberglass. Wood is an excellent insulating material, but it's also very high maintenance. Don't invest in wood frames unless you're willing to commit to regular painting or staining and you accept that the material may be susceptible to insect damage, dry rot, and warping in response to changes in temperature or humidity.

Aluminum frames have advantages, including durability and strength, but energy efficiency isn't one of their best qualities. Vinyl frames are a better choice if you're looking to keep the heat out – vinyl is very energy efficient, with few of the drawbacks of wood. Vinyl is affordable, long-lasting, and low maintenance. Vinyl frames can't be easily painted, though, so choose a color you can live with.

Also, vinyl is not the strongest material, so if you want heavier glass in your windows, you may not be able to use vinyl. In that case, fiberglass is probably your best bet. Fiberglass is stronger than vinyl and hardier than wood, and because fiberglass frames can be insulated, they're as energy efficient or more energy efficient than either wood or vinyl. The major drawback to fiberglass is cost – fiberglass frames cost between $300 to $900, compared to $150 to $650 for vinyl.

Glass

The next thing you need to think about is the glass panes. If you have older windows, you may have window panes that are simply one thin sheet of glass. However, to effectively stop air loss, you need either double- or triple-glazed window glass. These are window panes made from either two or three panes of glass fused together, with an insulating gas like argon or krypton in between.

Both double- and triple-glazed windows will insulate your home more effectively than single-pane windows. Triple-glazed windows will block more airflow and provide more sound-proofing than double-glazed windows; however, they are heavier than double-glazed windows, which may rule out vinyl frames. The more expensive fiberglass frames are a better choice for triple-glazed windows; however, the triple-glazed panes themselves are also more expensive than double-glazed panes, so expect a significant upcharge if you opt for the thicker triple-glazed windows. You may want to consider putting in triple-glazed panes only on the side of the house that gets the most direct sunlight, and using double-glazed panes on the rest of the house.

Coatings

One more thing that you you may want to consider is having your new window glass coated with a low-emissive coating. This is a layer of colorless metallic oxide coating that should be applied to the inner side of the outermost pane of glass on your windows.

The low-emissive coating prevents heat from being transferred between the panes of glass. So, your outermost pane is the one that picks up the heat from the outside, and the coating prevents that heat from being transferred to the inner panes that face the interior of your house. This means less heat inside the home, which results in less energy needed to cool your home.

The right replacement windows will not only save you money on your energy bill, they'll also make your home more comfortable, which is a big benefit when you live in a hot climate. Contact a window replacement specialist in your area for more information about which replacement windows are right for your home.

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