Selecting High-Performance Windows

Selecting High-Performance Windows

Selecting High-Performance Windows

While windows bring welcome light into your home, they are also a source of unwelcome energy loss. In fact, depending on where you live, windows can cause up to 25 percent of your home's heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. This not only costs you money, it makes your home less comfortable. Replacing old windows with new, energy-efficient models is a great way to save on energy bills and increase comfort all year long.

Window performance

High performance windows use low-emissivity (low-e) coatings, gas between panes and insulated frames to reduce drafts and make homes more comfortable. Low-e coatings block solar heat gain in the summer, reducing the need for air conditioning. In addition to energy-cost savings, higher performance provides the following benefits:

  • Reduced fading. Low-e coatings block solar radiation, which causes fading of fabrics and furnishings.
  • Less moisture. Advanced framing and coatings keep cold drafts from entering, which reduces condensation that can damage building materials and lead to moisture problems.

Window performance is measured by U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). U-factor indicates a window's resistance to heat flow; a window with a lower U-factor is more efficient. SHGC measures the amount of solar rays transmitted through a window. See the National Fenestration Ratings Council for more information about window performance ratings.

Selecting windows

Energy-efficient windows can reduce your home's heating, cooling and lighting costs substantially, but it involves more than just purchasing the highest rated products. You must carefully select the right size and type of window for the space and make sure they are installed correctly to ensure performance and eliminate moisture problems. 

    A number of resources are available to help you select the right windows for your home. ENERGY STAR® certifies high-performance windows and skylights. ENERGY STAR® rated windows save up to 15 percent in energy costs compared to standard products. The Efficient Windows Collaborative provides useful information on window performance and selection, as well as building codes and available tax incentives.

    Energy-efficient windows may cost a little more, but they more than pay for themselves in lower energy costs and increased comfort for you and your family. In addition, they help reduce your home's carbon footprint.

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