There are many different factors that a homeowner should consider when buying windows. These factors include airflow, maintenance and temperature control. It may seem overwhelming to the uninformed homeowner, but it is actually easier to choose windows once one learns the facts.
Airflow is an important aspect of a window's performance. Many people like to leave their windows open to let in fresh air. It is important to note that windows vary widely in the amount of air they can bring in. The best type of window for airflow is a casement style window. Awning style windows come a close second and are actually more popular than casement windows in some areas. Single and double hung windows bring in only half as much air as casement or awning style windows. Sliding windows and hopper style windows enable slightly less air flow than hung windows.
Most people are looking for low maintenance windows or even no maintenance windows. Fiberglass, composite and vinyl windows all require very little maintenance. Aluminum framed windows need even less. Wood framed windows, while beautiful, need to be repainted or re-stained on a regular basis. Homeowners considering wood framed windows are advised to weigh aesthetics and practicality.
Experts generally agree that temperature control should be the most important thing a homeowner takes into consideration when choosing new windows. There are two important aspects of temperature control. One is how good of an insulator the window is. The other is how much heat from the sun is absorbed by the window.
How effective an insulator a window is measured by the "U factor." The lower the U factor, the better the window is at preventing heat from escaping. This results in lower energy costs. Experts suggest homeowners choose windows with a U factor of 0.3 or lower. These windows have been found to be the most energy efficient through extensive testing.
Equally important to the energy efficiency of a window is how much heat the window absorbs. Homeowners in cold climates will naturally want to pick windows that absorb a great deal of heat. Those in hot climates will want windows that reflect the majority of thermal energy emanating from the sun. A window's performance in this area is measured by its solar heat gain coefficient, or SHGC. Experts advise homeowners to use a rating of 0.6 as a baseline. Anything lower is suited for hot climates. Anything higher is better suited for cold locales.