When you live in a hot climate, you may not give your windows as much thought as you would if you lived in a cold climate where they would serve as a barrier between you and the freezing cold. But the truth is, even in a hot climate, windows are very important for insulating your home. The wrong windows can let in a lot of heat and cold air, raising your AC bills considerably. If the time has come to replace windows in your warm-climate home, look for windows with these features.
The "E" in Low-E stands for emissivity. This is a measure of how much heat is transferred through the glass. Plain glass has a rather high emissivity, but you can purchase windows marketed as "Low-E" windows that are coated in a silver compound that reduces the amount of heat that's transferred through them. Low-E windows are not necessarily tinted, so you can still enjoy the brightness of the light shining into your home without all the heat that it brings. However, you can find tinted Low-E windows if that's what you prefer.
Windows sashes, which are the materials that go around the actual glass of the window, can be made from any number of materials including wood, aluminum, and vinyl. However, in a hot climate, those made from wood composite really are the best choice. They won't warp and bend when moisture levels change, and they are less prone to rot than traditional wood sashes, which is important on days the humidity shoots up. They're also less likely to bend and crack than vinyl, and they don't conduct heat like aluminum window sashes, so they'll keep your home much cooler.
Single-pane windows are usually the cheapest option, but you'll easily end up paying more in AC bills than you would to upgrade to double-pane windows. It's not really the second layer of glass that reduces heat transfer through the windows, but rather the air that's trapped between the two layers of glass. Air is not a great conductor of heat, so having two panes of glass plus a layer of air between you and the outdoors means more heat stays outside where it belongs.
Don't assume that because you live in a hot climate, you can skimp on windows. Invest in high-quality, Low-E windows with double-pane glass and composite sashes. You'll be thankful you did once your energy bills arrive. For more information, contact local professionals like Master Remodelers.