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Windows are one of the most important components in any home. Not only can they completely enhance the design and architectural style, they also contribute to your home’s interior environment and feel. High-quality and energyefficient windows keep your home cool, not only by keeping the hot air out, but by also keeping the cool air inside. The investment will pay for itself over the long term with lower maintenance costs, reduced electrical consumption and increased value of the home itself.

In Costa Rica, we are now blessed with many window options from many different suppliers, so check around. Vinyl/PVC windows are made of plastic, normally PVC, incorporating UV stabilizers to protect the material from sun damage. These types of windows have hollow cores that can be filled with thermal insulation to make them more energy efficient. Many colors are available, including white, black, brown and wood grain.

Aluminum/metal framed windows are light, stable and affordable. However, the material itself is a heat conductor, which can diminish the cooling benefits of energy efficiency.

Fiberglass windows are stable and strong. In many instances, they have air cavities that can be filled with insulation, making fiberglass an energy-efficient window option.

Wood windows have been used in Costa Rican construction for hundreds of years. Although wood insulates relatively well, it does not compare to insulated vinyl and fiberglass windows. The wood itself is beautiful, but requires additional maintenance to keep it that way, including refinishing every so many years. Wood’s adaptability to climate conditions is also a consideration. Woodframed windows may be harder to close in rainy season, and have gaps between windows during dry season.

WIth most of these frame options, you can improve the window’s energy efficiency by using double or triple-pane glass. This type of glass utilizes the air gap between window panes as insulation, and argon gas can be added to increase the insulation factor.

Always keep in mind for any home design that larger roof overhangs not only protect your windows and walls from sun and water damage, but also keep your home cooler.

Investing in high-quality windows can result in lower electric bills, less maintenance and perhaps even a more beautiful-looking home.

Whether it’s roofing or any other construction material decision, I almost always recommend spending more up front to save much more down the road. Of course, energy efficiency is not just about saving money, it’s also about helping our planet. And our planet needs all the help it can get!

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The Howler Magazine