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There are a lot of things to consider when you’re buying, building, or renovating a home in a cold climate like Connecticut and the Northeast more broadly. One aspect that is often overlooked are windows.
If you’re in a cold climate, choosing the right windows can make your home more comfortable and save you money on your energy bills every month. Here’s what to look for and how to pick the best cold weather windows for your home.
When you live in a northern state, choosing the right windows for your home can make a huge difference in your home’s comfort level and your energy bills.
Windows that aren’t equipped for cold climates can’t properly keep heat in and cold air out. This means your HVAC system has to work harder, making it difficult to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Since your heater has to work harder, your energy bills will be higher than they should be.
Basically, energy efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to choosing windows for colder climates. The more energy efficient your windows are, the more comfortable your home will be and the more money you’ll save each month.
Windows have two main parts: the window itself and the frame. Both of these are important to consider when you’re looking for windows for cold weather climates.
First, let’s talk about the frame. The window frame is often where the most heat escapes, so it’s important to make sure they’re in good condition and made of the right material. There are three parts of the frame that air usually escapes from: the sash, the sill, and the perimeter.
The sash is the portion of the window that fits inside the frame and moves up and down (or side to side). On double hung windows, there are two sashes that move. Most of us are familiar with the window sill, the bottom part of the window. And as you may be able to guess, the perimeter runs the entire edge of the window. All of these are areas where air can seep in or out, so it’s important to ensure your window frame is made of the right material and properly installed. Although no window frame can ever be 100% airtight, there shouldn’t be a noticeable amount of cold air coming in.
For cold climates, you’ll want to choose windows that have wood, vinyl, fiberglass, or composite frames. Wood with vinyl cladding is ideal since it will hold heat best and the vinyl will protect the wood. Vinyl and fiberglass frames are also great, but fiberglass can be more expensive than vinyl and wood. Whatever material you choose, skip the aluminum window frames. Since aluminum doesn’t hold heat very well, it’s the worst choice for cold climates.
It’s also important that the space around your windows are properly sealed and caulked. The best way to ensure this is completed correctly is by having your windows installed by trained professionals.
When it comes to the window itself, avoid single pane windows. These don’t hold in heat well enough for northern climates.
Instead, homeowners in cold climates should opt for double or triple pane windows made from low-E glass. Low-E glass has been treated with a thin, metallic coating designed to filter certain types of light into your home. In winter, this allows sunlight in to help keep your home warm.
Double and triple pane windows can be insulated with argon or krypton, both of which are dense gasses, making them a better insulator than air. At Window World of Connecticut, we use argon. It is a odorless, nonreactive gas that is extremely high density and low thermal conductivity. All of this results in superior insulation for year round comfort.
In addition, choose windows with a very low U-factor and relatively high solar-gain coefficient (SHGC), particularly if you live in any of the cold climate, northern regions listed below.
U-factor and SHGC are energy performance ratings that measure a variety of factors. Here is what these mean and what to look for when you’re shopping for new windows:
At Window World of Connecticut, we’ve helped hundreds of homeowners upgrade to more energy efficient, climate-appropriate windows. If you’re ready to save on your electric bills, request an appointment online for a free in-home or virtual estimate.