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Choosing a Window for All Seasons

Window1 How will your new windows affect your home’s comfort and energy use?
This guide will help you select windows that are right for your house and your climate.

When you're at home, windows connect you to the outside world. They allow you to see beyond your walls, to enjoy the trees and sky and sunlight, and to bring fresh air into the house when you need it. But too often, windows also connect you to outside weather that you're trying to avoid. They can let in drafts, draw out heat in winter, and bake a home in the summer sun. Selecting new windows today can be confusing. Windows used to all be very similar, but now there are dozens of types to choose from. There are metal, wood, vinyl, fiberglass, and composite frames; and single, double, and triple glass panes, with gas fills, tints, and low-e coatings. All these windows allow different amounts of heat, light, and air to pass through.

How do you find the right windows to make your house comfortable?
The first step is to think about what you need from the window. Consider your climate, what direction the window will face, and what functions it will serve.

  • Will it be opened often for ventilation?
  • Will it replace another window in a historically cold or hot room?
  • Does it look out on an incredible view?

To choose the right windows for your house, it helps to understand the ways that heat enters or leaves a house through windows (see Figure 1). The best windows have high insulating values and good summer performance, and they don't allow unwanted air to infiltrate in winter or summer.

windows Part I:
Choosing a Well-Insulated Window

Don't miss Part II: "Keeping Air Out, or In" of our weekly four part series on "Choosing a Window for all Seasons."



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