When comparing windows, you'll need to evaluate not just their characteristics but also your building's characteristics, local energy codes and the energy ratings these codes require. Choosing the right windows can make your home or place of work more comfortable and reduce heating and cooling costs.
Keep in mind that your building's orientation, window area and shading affect the amount of sunlight that enters your house, and thus the windows you'll need to reduce heating and cooling costs. Also, many states and local governments have adopted energy codes that require windows to have certain characteristics based on the heating or cooling the climate requires.
The Efficient Windows Collaborative, an initiative of government, academic and industry experts, identifies six window technologies to compare windows: glazing, frame, operating structure, low-e coatings, gas fills and spacers. These describe the variety of pane materials; spaces or gases between panes; films on the pane; the frame around the pane; and how the window operates.
The National Fenestration Rating Council evaluates windows' energy properties based on their characteristics to determine their U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient, two key performance ratings that allow you to compare windows and determine whether they meet local energy codes. U-factor measures the rate of heat loss from your building through the window, while solar heat gain coefficient measures the solar radiation through the window directly and through absorption. Some windows also have ratings for visible transmittance, air leakage and condensation resistance.
- Photo Credit new house image by Jim Dubois from Fotolia.com
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