Did you know that the type of window you choose depends a lot on the climate you’re in? Windows, unlike walls, are conduits for both heat transfers and sunlight transfers.
The placement of your windows, the type of windows you have, the size of your windows and the number of windows you have can affect your energy consumption, your room temperature and your overall comfort. These factors all have to be taken into consideration when designing a home or choosing windows.
The Basics of Windows and Climates
There are a couple factors to be aware of with window selection in different climates.
First of all, windows allow sunlight in. When the sunlight hits the carpet or the floorboard, that surface area then gets heated up. The heat is transferred throughout the rest of the house, resulting in a hotter room or higher air conditioning costs.
The second thing to be aware of is that windows themselves are poor insulators of heat. Glass passes heat through by nature. While walls aren’t perfect insulators either, the fact of the matter is that glass lets a lot more heat or cool in than walls do.
That means the more window surface area you have, the more the outside temperature will affect the inside temperature. If you live in moderate climates, the effect could be negligible. If you live in very hot or very cold climates however, this can have a big impact.
The Direction Your Windows Face
There’s an entire science between determining the best direction(s) for your windows to face. Essentially, you want to make sure the sun is in the right place in the sky when it hits your window. The right choice varies from climate to climate.
Windows on the west and the east tend to get a lot of heat. That’s because the sun rises earlier in the day and stays up longer. If you live in an environment that’s cold in summer and you want to maximize the heat you get, having windows on the east or west is a good idea.
Having your windows in the south is the best for gathering heat in the winter. The sun tends to spend more time in a lower position in winter. Having your window towards the south will allow you to maximize the sun you get in winter.
North windows are best if you don’t want much sunlight at all.
Different Types of Windows
Not all windows are created the same. High quality windows can be designed to keep heat in or keep heat out. There are a number of different technologies that go into this.
First you have the frame. The frame needs to be virtually air tight, so no cold or hot air can flow in or out of the house. The glass itself should be coated to prevent as much sunlight heat from getting in as possible. The glass itself should be made from low conductivity materials. Weatherstripping should be applied to the edge of the window to further prevent heat leakage.
High quality windows can even have a layer of gas in between two pieces of glass. In other words, instead of just one piece of glass, you really have two pieces of glass with heat-resistance gas in the middle.
As you can tell, there’s a very big difference between buying an inexpensive window and a higher quality window. The higher quality window almost always pays for it over time through saved energy costs.
Size of Windows
The larger your window, the more heat or cold you allow to be transferred through the glass. If you’re going to have larger windows in your house, it makes sense to try and face it away from a direction that’s going to get a lot of sunlight, unless you deliberately want to let heat into the house.
All that said, it’s of course important to take other factors like aesthetic appeal, the view and personal preference into consideration. The amount of light and heat you allow in and out of your house plays a big part on your room temperature and eventual energy bills. That’s a crucial factor to take into consideration, but it’s by no means the only factor. Combine your personal tastes with climate considerations to come up with the best possible choice for your windows.
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