When you’re building or remodeling a home, window placement is key. Well-placed windows bring light into your home, while providing you with great views of areas outside your home. Perhaps most importantly, well-placed windows can drastically improve airflow in your home.
Although the thought of leaving windows open in a Houston-area home during the heart of summer is preposterous, there’s still plenty of time throughout the year when the weather isn’t so darned hot. It’s crucially important to think of airflow during these cooler months. A well-ventilated home has fresher air in it than a home with poor ventilation does. Homes with good ventilation can also save you money on your energy bills.
So where should you place ventilating windows in your Houston home? The answer varies slightly depending on a few factors, including the principles of ventilation. Let’s take a closer look.
The Principles of Ventilation
Homes with the best ventilation tend to either utilize cross-ventilation or the chimney effect. Cross ventilation occurs when windows on opposite ends of a home are opened, with one end facing the wind and another end sheltered from it. Air will flow into the home through the windows that face the wind and then flow out of the windows on the opposite end of the home.
The chimney effect occurs when air enters a home through windows on lower floors and exits through windows near the roof of the home. The cool air that enters a home will absorb some of the heat from the warmer interior of the home and rise to upper floors — where it can escape through windows. This scenario also causes a partial vacuum on the lower floors, which pulls in even more cool exterior air through the windows of lower floors of a home.
Prevailing Wind Directions in Houston
In order to have a home with the best natural ventilation, you should have windows that open on opposite sides of the home, with one side facing the wind. But what direction does the wind come from in Houston?
The prevailing wind in Southeast Texas most often comes from the southeast. This is the breeze that brings all that moisture from the Gulf of Mexico into your face with the ferocity of J.J. Watt on a blitz.
Yet, many homes in the Greater Houston area don’t face southeast, since many streets are built north-south or east-west. For this reason, it’s best to have ventilating windows on the south and north ends of your home. Under this setup, wind that hits the southeast corner of your home will likely be funneled around the south edge of your home and through open windows. That air will then leave the home through the north side.
Houston often southerly winds throughout the year, although the southeast winds are more prevalent. In the winter months, winds can shoot down from the north as well. Opening windows that face north and south in your home allows you to use the wind to ventilate your home during all seasons.
Landscaping —including fences and hedges — can also help corral prevailing winds. If placed in the right direction relative to the wind, they can push the wind away from or into the windows of your home.
The Functional Purpose of Upper Level Windows
Look around Houston, and you’ll see plenty of homes with windows near roofs and skylights. This is more than a stylistic decision.
As explained earlier in this article, cool air that enters a warmer interior of a home tends to rise to the upper levels. However, the air in Houston’s often warm and muggy climate tends to rise naturally anyway, so this process can actually be accelerated greatly in homes across Southeast Texas.
In order to take full advantage of this effect, you should either have skylights, roof windows or windows in clerestories (above eye level). There are many stylish designs for these types of windows, which are often on display in homes across Houston.
Which Windows Work Best For Natural Ventilation in Houston?
Natural ventilation in your home can be very beneficial for your health. This feature can also help lower your energy bills, since you won’t have to run air conditioners, fans or heaters as much in order to redistribute air around your home.
But natural ventilation can have some drawbacks, if the wrong type of windows is used. If you simply slide open a bunch of single-hung windows across your home, you might be inviting bugs, salt spray and moisture into your home, while giving unsecured papers and small items a space to fly away.
To get the most benefits from natural ventilation — without any of the drawbacks —install angled windows such as awning or casement windows. These windows force wind to change course before entering your home, which will limit any negative effects of letting that air into your home. Additionally, consider adding screens to all ventilating windows, in order to keep out bugs and other pests.
If you’re looking to replace your windows, look no further than Best Investments Siding and Windows. We’ve been installing replacement windows in the Houston area since 1977. Click here or call (281) 852-1866 for a free quote today.