Choosing the Right Windows for Your Home

Whether you’re in the process of building a new house or contemplating replacing your existing windows, choosing the right windows for your home is crucial. This choice not only impacts the overall appearance of your home’s interior and exterior but also plays a key role in energy efficiency, associated costs, and the amount of natural light that filters into your living space.

Given the seemingly infinite number of choices available in today’s market, here are some essential items to take into consideration when shopping for windows:

Framing Materials

The material of a window is often a primary deciding factor for buyers. This is because of the effect it has on a home’s character and general appearance. Due to this, other characteristics a window’s material possesses are frequently overlooked:

  • Wood: Wood windows provide the highest level of insulation, are less susceptible to condensation, and remain unaffected by extreme temperature changes.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass windows don’t warp, crack, bow, or bend, and thus are very durable and low-maintenance. Their low thermal conductivity is ideal for energy efficiency.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl windows are great for those seeking more affordable and low-maintenance options. They are energy-efficient, providing significant insulation.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum windows were designed to fit into contemporary or modern architecture. They are cost-efficient, however, their poor insulation means they are not energy-efficient.

Window Styles

Choosing the window style for your home is influenced by its architecture, the window’s intended purpose, and your budget.

  • Single-hung: Allows the window to open vertically when pushed, as only the bottom sash is movable.
  • Double-hung: Similar to the single-hung style windows, except both the top and bottom sashes are movable.
  • Arched: They have a square bottom and a semi-circular top, creating an arch.
  • Awning: They are hinged from the top, opening outwards when pushed.
  • Bay: They extend past your exterior wall and consist of a large window in the middle with smaller ones on each side, forming a small nook within your home.
  • Bow: Similar to bay windows, except they use the same-style window on each of the three sections, and the structure is round instead of square.
  • Casement: They feature a sash hinged on the right or left, opening outwards when pushed.
  • Picture: They consist of a single glass pane which provides an unobstructed view of the outside of your home; they don’t usually open.
  • Transom: They consist of fixed glass installed around doors and windows; they provide additional natural light but are primarily decorative.

Energy Efficiency

Windows are a crucial factor in energy efficiency, even going as far as impacting your energy bills. The framing material and the glass type affect a window’s insulation level and, consequently, its energy efficiency.

Glass Types

  • Clear: The primary material used on window panes; doesn’t significantly impact energy efficiency.
  • Low-E: It’s a thin metal oxide coating applied to the surface of transparent windows. The Low-E coating allows sunlight and heat to pass and then traps it inside the home, helping reduce the heating energy needed to keep the house warm.
  • Heat-absorbing: Glass is treated with special tints that allow it to absorb up to 45% of solar energy, reducing the heat entering the home.
  • Reflective: It’s a reflective film coat that bounces a significant amount of harmful sunlight.
  • Glass layers: Windows can feature one, two or three layers of glass. The more layers, the more energy efficient that window will be.

If you don’t know where to start, we recommend looking at Energy Star-certified windows, as the label is awarded to windows (as well as other products) that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications.


Besides the cost of the window itself—which varies depending on materials, style, and size, to name a few—, you should also consider other associated costs such as installation and maintenance. Even if you buy the most expensive window in the market, it might not work properly if it’s not correctly installed and maintained.

Need a Hand?

North Shore Door is here to help you find the perfect windows for your home. Visit our showroom to see our windows displayed in person, or feel free to contact us if you would like a quote or have any additional questions.

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