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The Best Windows for the Midwest

​Also known as “America’s Heartland," the Midwestern United States is known for its rich agriculture and its erratic weather patterns. With humid summers, frigid winters, and intense storms, homeowners in the Midwest must be prepared for extreme conditions. It's important to find the right types of windows to keep your home safe and energy efficient.
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Inspired by the miles of grassland, the Prairie style house is prevalent in the Midwest. With an emphasis on natural materials in neutral colors, this housing style is designed to reflect and blend with the Midwest's landscape. Other common Midwestern styles include Craftsman, Ranch, and Bungalow styles.

In general, homeowners in the southern or central Midwest should look for windows with SHGC and U-values of 0.3 or lower. Homes in the northern Midwest may benefit from windows with a higher SHGC. These values will ensure strong winter window insulation. Read on for more information about the best styles and materials.

Styles for the Midwest

The Midwest experiences warm summers and freezing winters, as well as blizzards and the occasional tornado. Because of these storms, homeowners should consider installing storm windows. Not only will storm windows assist with winter window insulation, keeping your home snug, they will also keep your windows safe during heavy storms. Additionally, storm windows increase the privacy of your home, reducing extra noise from the outside.

Casement windows are also a good choice for Midwestern homes, as window experts say that this type of window performs better than others in high winds.

Winter window insulation is crucial for Midwest homes. | © CC BY-SA 2.0 / Anne Swoboda

Materials for Midwest Windows

Wood is a very sturdy insulating material, but it may warp when faced with Midwestern precipitation and the region's extreme fluctuations in temperature. Similarly, aluminum is not recommended for Midwest home windows, because it will conduct the temperature around it and thus provide poor winter window insulation.

Vinyl is energy efficient and affordable, but it may break down when faced with extreme temperatures. The best window frame material for Midwest windows is fiberglass. Though expensive, fiberglass

Glass/Glazing for Midwest Windows

Midwest homes should have at least two panes of glass in order to provide winter window insulation; if your Midwest home has single pane windows, you should consider a window replacement. Additionally, without gas filling or low-emissivity coatings, double-paned windows aren't going to provide much better winter window insulation.

Gas-filled glass features two panes with a harmless gas in between, and it will increase your home's energy efficiency. Low-e glass is one of the most energy efficient options and will reduce heat loss by 30 to 50%, increasing your winter window insulation. Keep in mind that there are two types of low-e glass available: passive and solar control. Passive will be the better option for the Midwest, as it is specially designed for cold climates and winter window insulation.

Summary: Safety and Winter Window Insulation

Homes in the Midwest face plenty of extreme weather and temperature. For winter window insulation, look for insulated windows with double or triple-pane glass and vinyl or fiberglass frames. Additionally, look for casement windows and storm windows to protect your home during blizzards, high winds, and the occasional tornado.

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Written by: Anthony Elio, Editor