Hot, humid, and rainy with occasional hurricanes and tornadoes, Texas weather can be unpredictable, especially in coastal areas like Houston. Preparing your home for this range of weather can make all the difference. One often overlooked part of home building or renovation are the windows.
Yep, the windows you choose can make a big difference in your home’s energy efficiency and comfort level. Here’s why the windows you choose to install in your home are so important and what to look for in replacement windows.
Why Do Windows Matter in Hot Climates?
When it comes to finding the best windows for Texas homes, energy efficiency is the name of the game.
Energy efficient windows keep cool air from your AC in and hot, humid air out. This keeps your home comfortable and allows you to save money on your energy bills every month. Special coatings on windows can also reduce the amount of solar heat that enters your home by up to 70%. No more afternoon sun heating up your home!
The Best Windows for Texas Homes
Now that you know choosing the best windows for your Texas home is all about energy efficiency, let’s talk about exactly what you should look for.
Windows have two main parts: the frame and the window glass itself. Both of these contribute to the energy efficiency of the window.
Window Frames for Hot Climates
Window frames can be made of aluminum, wood, vinyl, or fiberglass. Aluminum is the least energy efficient and doesn’t hold in or keep out heat very well. We don’t recommend aluminum window frames for hot climates.
Fiberglass is moderately energy efficient, and can be a good choice for Texas homes. Wood and vinyl are the most energy efficient, but our heat and humidity will wreak havoc on wooden window frames. The excessive moisture in the air, especially in coastal areas like Houston, causes wooden window frames to rot much faster than in other parts of the country. Vinyl window frames are the best choice for hot climates, due to their durability and energy efficiency.
The Best Window Material for Texas Homes
When it comes to the window itself, the options can seem overwhelming. Luckily, the experts at Window World of Houston know exactly what performs best in Texas homes!
Since our biggest concern is keeping the heat out, a double-pane window made of low-E (low emissivity) glass is ideal. Low-E windows have an extremely thin coating that limits the amount of solar heat that enters your home by reflecting that heat. This helps keep the temperature in your home more consistent, keeping you comfortable year round.
We can measure the effectiveness of low-E by looking at the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). Other ratings, like the u-factor, r-value, and VT also impact a window’s efficiency:
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) measures how well your windows block (or in this case, allow) heat from the sun. Ratings range from 0-1, with 0 allowing little or no solar heat and 1 allowing maximum solar heat. Homeowners in warm climates should look for windows with a lower SHGC rating because it helps keep your home cool by blocking solar heat.
- U-Factor determines how good the window is at preventing heat loss. Ratings range from 0.14 to 1.20. There are u-factor requirements for each geographic area in the US from north to south. In southern climates, windows are required to have a u-factor rating greater than or equal to 0.40.
- R-Value refers to how well the insulation, the space between the panes, of your window performs. Like the u-factor, there are requirements for each geographic area of the US. In southern climates, windows must have an r-value of 13-21.
- VT (Visible Transmittance) measures the amount of light that is able to pass through a window. Similar to SHGC, VT is measured on a scale from 0-1, with 0 allowing the least amount of light and 1 allowing the most. The VT rating has less to do with heat transmittance and more to do with light transmittance so it isn’t a vital consideration for regulating temperature, but it is something to be aware of.
Hurricane Impact Windows for Texas Homes
Hurricanes are a major concern for coastal cities like Houston and Galveston, and all across the southeast. Hurricane impact windows provide the energy efficiency you want with the protection you need.
Made of impact-resistant glass and coated with polyvinyl butyral (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), hurricane impact windows provide unmatched protection against hurricane-force winds and flying debris. This protects your windows from breakage, but also helps prevent the sudden pressure changes that occur when a window or door is broken. These sudden changes are often what causes roofs to blow away or walls to collapse, causing the most damage during storms.
Although hurricane impact windows are more expensive than other types of windows, the peace of mind and protection is invaluable. For homeowners on the gulf coast, hurricane impact windows can be a life-saver, literally.
Learn More About Windows for Hot Climates at Window World of Houston
At Window World of Houston, we’ve helped hundreds of homeowners upgrade to more energy efficient, climate-appropriate windows. If you’re ready to save on your electric bills, contact us today, and get your free in-home estimate.