How to Choose New Windows Based on Climate

windows and climates

When choosing new windows, it’s important to weigh pros and cons based on your climate. This guide is organized to help you choose the most energy efficient, durable window types for your home.

Keep these initial tips in mind:

  • Avoid single-pane windows. The insulating space in a modern double- or triple-paned window (also called an IGU or insulated glass unit) is more beneficial for climate control.
  • Outdated metal frames are not recommended. They’re inefficient and require a thermal break.
  • After you choose windows, professional installation is key to getting a good seal and the highest possible energy efficiency.

Windows for Cold Winter, Hot Summer Climate

Glass Considerations:

  • Choose glass with a low U-factor, and get a low emissivity (low-E) coating, which reflects the sun, reduces glare and provides climate control in all seasons and temperatures.

Frame Considerations:

  • Composite frames hold up better than wood in this climate because they don’t fluctuate in size as the seasons change drastically. They insulate just as well as wood and still look stylish, but they don’t decay as easily.   
  • Vinyl keeps heat out in summer and insulates well in winter. It’s low maintenance and don’t need to be painted.

Windows for Often Warm, Sunny Climate

Glass Considerations:

  • Choose glass with a very low SHGC (solar heat gains coefficient). Consider a low emissivity (low-E) coating to reflect (rather than absorb) the sun and reduce glare.

Frame Considerations:

  • Vinyl is great for sunny places because it’s usually made of PVC that stabilizes UV rays. These frames can be insulated to keep heat out, and they don’t require painting.  
  • Wood is a beautiful option if it doesn’t rain much where you live. It’s expensive and requires maintenance, but it’s an energy efficient and stylish option. Vinyl-clad wood is an alternative if you’re worried about too much expansion or decay with humidity.

Windows for Often Cold Climate

Glass Considerations:

  • Choose glass with a low U-factor and a high SHGC (solar heat gains coefficient)
  • A single or double glaze (i.e., an extra glass pane in your IGU) can cut energy costs in half.

Frame Considerations:

  • Fiberglass has great thermal performance and is sturdy enough for winter storms.
  • A strong composite frame, as described above, would also work well.
  • Vinyl-clad wood insulates well and can handle ice and snow.

Windows for Windy Climate

Glass Considerations:

  • Tempered glass protects windows from accidental breaks during high winds. Find out why you should choose or upgrade to tempered glass. 
  • Be sure to get a modern IGU with two or three panes to cut down on noise.

Frame Considerations:

  • Fiberglass is strong enough to stand up to high winds.
  • Vinyl is a less expensive option that is still sturdy.

Windows for Rainy or Humid Climate

Glass Considerations:

  • Get high-quality insulated glass in a modern IGU, which employs a desiccant inside the panes to keep moisture at bay. Professional installation ensures a sound seal and no annoying fog.

Frame Considerations:

  • Vinyl holds up well to moisture and any temperature, and it’s inexpensive.
  • Composite gives a wood look but is better suited for humidity and rain.

There are windows for every climate, and choosing the wrong window type can result in high energy bills – and discomfort! For more tips for keeping out the cold, read about Ideal Temperature Settings from AireServ, a Neighborly brand.

Still have questions about choosing those windows? Glass Doctor experts are ready to help you weigh the options and choose the best one for your home. And when you’re ready, Glass Doctor will install your windows with care and professionalism. Contact your local Glass Doctor today!