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Cladding:  This is the vinyl or metal material that covers the outside of the wood frame.  They’re designed to be easy to maintain and never require painting, although some manufacturers make paintable versions. Rosie recommends that Arizona residents avoid vinyl because they can deteriorate faster than metal under the hot desert sun.

  • Clad windows have wood frames on the interior side and either vinyl or aluminum cladding over the wood on the exterior. You can paint the inside any color you like, but you never have to paint the outside. Rosie’s ideal window: aluminum-clad wood.

Glazing: This isn’t the glaze or paint that you put on the window; it’s the number of panes of glass the window has. You have three choices:

  •  Single-glazed. This is one pane of glass, and it’s the most energy-inefficient choice. Especially in a severe hot or cold climate, a single pane of glass will do little to keep the weather outside and the air-conditioned or heated air inside.
  •  Double-glazed. The smartest buy for Arizona homeowners, double-glazed windows have two panes of glass with a small air space in between. The air acts as an insulator to keep hot outdoor air from getting indoors and cool air-conditioned air from escaping to the outdoors. Some window manufacturers fill that air space with Argon gas, which serves as an even more efficient insulator.
  • Triple-glazed. These super-efficient windows have three panes of glass (or two glass panes and a plastic one inside) with two air spaces in between. They’re great at keeping the noise out, but they’re expensive. In fact, the payback in energy savings can take more than 10 years.  

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