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Stay Warm and Cozy This Winter with Energy Efficient Windows
January 07, 2013

The winter weather is here and many consumers are looking to winterize their home and save money through better energy efficiency. Better Business Bureau and the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) advise consumers to balance cost effectiveness with energy efficiency, as more efficient windows, doors and skylights can make a big difference in energy consumption over time.

According to the Energy Information Administration, home heating costs this winter are expected to rise by 10.2 percent for homeowners who rely on heating oil. Luckily, homeowners can fend off some of the rising energy costs by winterizing their home before the harshest weather takes hold.

“With the unpredictability of Mother Nature, it’s never too late to winterize your home,” noted Katherine Hutt, spokesperson for the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Taking the time to do so gives you the peace of mind that you will not only save money, but be energy efficient as well.”

“NFRC’s independent ratings can help homeowners make informed choices when comparing the energy performance of replacement windows,” commented Jim Benney, CEO of NFRC. “Consumers in northern climates concerned about indoor comfort in the winter should pay special attention to U-factor ratings to determine which products are better at keeping heat in. The lower the U-factor, the better the performance.”

BBB and NFRC recommend the following checklist for consumers to consult when preparing their windows and skylights for the cold, winter months ahead:

Start by looking for products that carry the NFRC Energy Performance Ratings label. The label can help determine how well a product will perform its key functions - helping to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, keeping out wind, and resisting condensation. By using the information contained on the label, builders and consumers can reliably compare one product with another, and make informed decisions.

As with any home improvement project, it’s important to make sure you are dealing with a reputable contractor and reputable materials. BBB encourages consumers to consult with their home contractor to see that all energy performance materials carry this label. Check out www.bbb.org to find a home contractor you can trust.

If you are looking for a well insulated room, check the window’s U-Factor. During the cold winter months, you’ll want to make sure your windows are trapping heat. U-Factor ratings generally fall between 0.20 and 1.20. The lower the U-value, the greater a window's resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating value.

Is your room sunny and bright? The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) rates how much solar radiation is admitted through the window. SHGC is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The lower a window's solar heat gain coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits in the house.

Are you looking for a well lit room or one that’s on the dimmer side? Visible Transmittance is an optical property that indicates the amount of visible light transmitted through the window. VT is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The higher the VT, the more light is transmitted.

Make sure your window doesn’t give off any unwanted breeziness. Heat loss and gain occur by Air Leakage through cracks in the window assembly. The lower the AL, the less air will pass through cracks in the window assembly.

Check to see how well your window will resist the formation of condensation. The higher the Condensation Resistance (CR) rating, the better that product is at resisting condensation formation. While this rating cannot predict condensation, it can provide a credible method of comparing the potential of various products for condensation formation. CR is expressed as a number between 1 and 100.

Look for ENERGY STAR® products before making a purchase. ENERGY STAR helps consumers to easily identify products with superior energy performance. Since the energy efficiency performance of windows can vary by climate, ENERGY STAR’s performance criteria vary by climate zones, so that you can choose products that are best suited for where you live.

For more information of NFRC’s Energy Performance Ratings label, visit www.nfrc.org/label.aspx.

For more consumer tips this holiday season in both English and Spanish, visit www.bbb.org.

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