How the Weather Affects Your Windows

Did you know that the climate you live in should affect the type of window you buy?

All windows are not created equal: windows come in different styles, materials, and energy performance ratings. Each type of window is ideal for a specific climate. If you pick the wrong type, it will not offer maximum energy efficiency—meaning you will have higher energy bills and may be uncomfortable (too hot or too cold) in your home. Plus, you may end up wasting money repairing or replacing the window(s) sooner than if you had picked the correct type for your climate.

We explain some of the common problems with windows unsuited to the climate and how to avoid them, below.

The problem: bowing and warping
The fix: treated wood, aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass frames

Here in the Midwest, we experience a wide range of temperatures: it can get very hot in the summer and also very cold in the winter. An untreated wooden window will contract when exposed to very cold conditions and expand when exposed to very hot conditions. This constant fluctuation in temperatures throughout the seasons will cause the window to lose its structural integrity, resulting in bowing and warping of the window frame. A bowed window frame will cause drafts and look unsightly.

To avoid this problem, make sure to choose a window frame that is made of treated wood, clad wood, aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass. If using treated or painted wood, make sure to re-treat or repaint the window frame regularly.

The problem: heat gain and loss
The solution: windows with a low U-factor, low SHGC, and coating

A good, energy efficient window should keep heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer. For the climate we’re in, you should look for windows with a low U-factor (the lower the U-factor, the better the window is at resisting heat transfer). Depending on the orientation of your windows, you might also want to look for windows with a low SHGC (the lower the number, the less solar radiation is transferred through the glass and becomes heat inside the home). Windows with these features will help you keep your home warm in the winter and reduce air conditioning costs in the summer.

The problem: hardware failure
The fix: picture or sliding windows

In addition to bowing and warping of the window frame, temperature fluctuations can also cause the hardware of your windows to deteriorate. And if snow and ice is allowed to build up around latches, hinges, and handles, they can cause jams or damage. Having damaged hardware is more than just an annoyance: not being able to easily open or close your windows is both a safety and security risk.

To protect your hardware from damage, regularly clean and grease it. To avoid this problem altogether, consider purchasing a sturdier window style. Awning and casement windows, for example, have more temperamental operating mechanisms than picture or sliding windows. (In fact, picture windows don’t open at all.)

The problem: cloudy glass
The fix: storm windows

Strong gusts of wind from severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can scratch the glass of your windows over time, making them cloudy and difficult to see through.

Consider installing storm windows ahead of storm season to protect your windows from scratches, cracks, and breaks.

The problem: drafts
The fix: proper installation and regular weatherstripping replacement

Drafts can be caused by a number of different things: improper installation, ice formation, and damage done to the window by extreme weather. When a window is drafty, it negatively affects your home’s energy efficiency and your comfort.

Even the most energy efficient window has to be installed properly in order to work as intended. Make sure to spend as much time choosing a window installation company as you did choosing your new or replacement windows. The company should have a great reputation within the community and should be willing to answer all your questions.

Assuming that your windows are properly installed, you can prevent drafts through regular maintenance, including replacing the weatherstripping regularly.

For more on the different types of windows available, read The Ultimate Window Guide: Types, Materials, and Casings.

If you’ve got more questions about choosing the best windows for your home, we’re here to answer them. We’ll even provide an in-home consultation to give you advice and a quote. Contact us today to talk to one of our Kentucky residential glass experts.