How to Evaluate the Energy Performance of Windows

Choosing to get new, more efficient windows for your home is no small matter. Having the right windows in your house could result in yearly savings on heating and cooling bills, better protection for your home’s interior, and a more comfortable home atmosphere. However, if you don’t know the basics of window performance, it can be hard to choose the right windows for your home out of the many options out there. If you’re looking to make a long-term investment and protect your home with newer, more efficient windows, here are a few of the aspects you should be looking for as you decide.

Look for a Low U Factor

Whether you’re shopping for windows on your own, or trusting the task to a highly-rated service like Renewal by Andersen window installation, there are a few key factors to keep in mind when looking for the most energy efficient window possible. The first is a low U factor or U value. What a U factor determines is how effective a window will be at keeping a room insulating and blocking air from entering or leaving the premises. This is one of the most important parts of a window’s efficiency since the lower the U factor is on any given window, the better insulated your home will be, thus reducing the amount of heating or cooling needed during severe weather. A U factor is similar to an R value but applies specifically to a window’s ability to protect and insulate rather than other areas of the home.

Choose the Correct SHGC for Your Climate

A Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, or SHGC, is a measure of how effective a certain window is at admitting solar radiation into the home. The SHGC number on most windows is somewhere between 0 and 1, and whether your necessary SHGC number should be lower or higher depends largely on your climate. For instance, if you live somewhere where there are harsh winters, frequent storms, and damp periods of rain and sleet, you’ll want your SHGC number to be higher, allowing for more solar heat and bringing the temperature of your home up without the use of internal heating.

On the other hand, if you live in a hot, dry climate with intense summers and not a lot of cold weather even during the winter months, a low SHGC will prevent your home from overheating year round. Sometimes a window’s SHGC is measured differently in separate parts of a window, giving a homeowner a more accurate sense of how effective a window will be at the exact spot where the directly penetrates it. If you’re looking at an SHGC number that figures in the entire window rather than just one segment, the figure will usually be lower.

Look for a Low E-Factor or Coating

A window’s coating or glazing is one of its most effective tools against sun damage and overheating. Windows with a protective glaze work to shield your home against fading, warping, and other damage caused by direct exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Windows with a low E-coating are more efficient at absorbing the sun’s heat while harnessing its solar power to heat a room, making the best use out of the natural energy while protecting your home from damage. There are different types of low-E coated windows that get even more specific about the level of protection they offer. For example, a high solar gain low-E window saves more energy than a low or moderate solar gain low-E window.

Select a High Visible Transmittance (VT)

When it comes to using a window to light your home without causing overheating or damage, choosing a high visible transmittance, or VT, is of the utmost importance. VT is a measure of how much light is allowed into a room by a window. The number falls between 0 and 1, and the higher the number, the more light will be allowed to travel inside your home. This might be a source of worry to homeowners who are concerned about sun damage in rooms that are exposed to the sun for longer periods of time. However, there’s an easy way to correct this. As long as you purchase a window with a low-E coating and a high VT, you’ll be protecting your home’s interior from the sun while letting the light in. Instead of having to use drapes or curtains to block out the light, you’ll be able to enjoy the light of the sun and save money on lighting bills.

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