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Ask Bob: What Is the Best Type of Window for Energy Efficiency in Minnesota?

Bob Davis, our CEO/President, is an expert on replacement windows. So it just makes sense to direct the window questions we get to him for answers. Here’s one we get frequently, since Minnesota homeowners are naturally very concerned about high heating and cooling bills. We get both hot summers and cold winters, so choosing windows that work well for both types of weather is important.

BobCustomer: As I’m looking at new windows, I see that there are different types of glass I could choose as well as various frame materials and other options. What are they best types of windows to keep heat in my home in the winter and the cooler air in the summer?

Bob: Choosing the right windows involves several factors. First, since glass makes up about 80% of a window, it’s a good idea to choose the right glass. And it’s probably not the same for every window in your home. One thing we consider is the direction the window faces, because obviously you’ll get more direct sunlight from south and west facing windows. Low E 366 argon filled glass for those windows would be a good fit. And for your north and east facing windows, glass with Low E 272 argon filling is more economical, but it would be just fine for windows that face those directions. You’ll save some money on those windows without sacrificing energy efficiency.

Also, you want to consider visible light. Have you got a lot of live plants in your home? Then you want windows in those rooms that deliver the most visible light. The higher the visible light number, the more light that’s available for your plants.

Then you consider U value. A window with a U value of .27 or lower will be very energy efficient all year long. And when you’re going for energy efficiency, the number of panes matters, too. Old single pane windows aren’t very energy efficient, so at the very minimum we recommend double pane glass. In some cases, triple pane windows might be appropriate, like for a northern exposure that gets a lot of winter wind. It’s a good idea to review the manufacturer’s specifications before you make a decision.

Another decision then is the frame material. Wood, vinyl, and fiberglass are the most common, and you can get wood windows with either aluminum or vinyl cladding on the exterior. We install all of these. There are plus and minus points to each material, and for each situation one type might be preferable to another.

However, as I stated above, the biggest component of a window is glass, so that’s probably your most important decision. The manufacturers of most quality windows get their window glass from the same manufacturers, so you’ll find window companies offer very similar options in terms of glass. Generally, if you pick glass with a low U value, you should be happy with your energy savings.

Finally, keep in mind that the quality of the window installation is just as important as the quality of the window itself, if not more so. A great window that’s poorly installed is doesn’t perform well. It’s a good idea to get several bids and check out the contractors you’re considering to see if their customers are happy with the job they did.


If you need help choosing the right windows for your home, or if you have other questions about our quality replacement windows, we’ve got customer service pros standing by to help via live chat – just visit our home page to start the conversation now!


Window Outfitters is a premier Window Replacement, doors, siding contractor and installer. As Contractor in the St Paul, Minneapolis, (Twin Cities) Minnesota (MN) metro, we proudly serve, but are not limited to, the following areas: Minneapolis Energy Efficient Vinyl Windows, Replacement Window Contractors Minnesota, Burnsville, Apple Valley, Lakeville, Savage, Bloomington, Edina, Richfield, Eagan, St Paul, Hastings, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Eden Prairie, Farmington MN, Chaska, Shakopee, Chanhassen, Victoria, Mendota Heights Anderson Windows Minneapolis, Marvin Windows Minneapolis.