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Energy Efficient Windows Are “Clearly” Better, But How Do You Compare?

4/3/2012

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The warm weather is here and many consumers are looking to make home improvements while sticking to a budget. BBB advises 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.



Start by looking for products that carry the Energy Performance Ratings label from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). 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.

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.

For more home improvement tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org and for more information on the Energy Performance Ratings label, visit www.nfrc.org.
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