Depending on the time of year, homeowners are looking to either retain heat in the home or keep the heat out. The same goes with cold or cool air. Climate control is the objective, and windows and doors play a key role. Throughout the year, homeowners also need to protect interior furnishings and fixtures from damaging sunlight, which streams in from windows and glass doors. This must all be balanced with the functional and aesthetic benefits we expect and desire with windows and glass doors: the ability to bring the beauty and fresh air of the outside into the home and allow those inside the home to view what is outside. Thanks to research and technology, we’re able to effectively – and beautifully – balance these objectives. And thanks to our collective desire (and need) to conserve energy, government and private entities have made it easy to find energy-conscious window and glass door products.
Why It Matters
On average, windows and glass doors are responsible for 25% of your residential heating and cooling costs. The percentage grows when you have poor-fitting windows and/or faulty seals. Modern glass and frames can reduce heat loss and diminish heat gain. Investing in energy efficient windows and glass doors, the homeowner can expect an ongoing return on investment.
The Latest Technology
Fenestration. It’s not a bad word. Fenestration refers to the arrangement, design, and features of windows and doors on a building structure. At Southern Windows and Doors and Doors, fenestration is our business. Fenestration is also the key word in an important acronym in our industry: NFRC, the National Fenestration Rating Council. The NFRC is a nonprofit energy conservation organization that established a national energy performance rating and labeling system. Distinguished from the Energy Star endorsement, which is an EPA and Department of Energy designation assigned to products deemed energy efficient, the NFRC labeling system goes a step further, enabling consumers to compare the key performance metrics of energy efficient products.
You will find NFRC labels on all windows on the market today. And if you’re in the market for new windows or glass doors, it helps to have an understanding of what drives energy efficiency in modern window and door products. NFRC labels provide information on the key influencers of window and door energy efficiency. These include:
U-Factor or U-Value– This measures the ability of the entire window unit (glass and frame) to hold heat inside a room. The range for this measure is .20 to 1.20. The lower the number on the label, the better the product is at holding heat in. Modern dual and triple pane windows can positively influence U-Factor. Oftentimes gas fills and spacers are used between panes to further insulate the home. Frame composition will also influence U-Factor, with wood and vinyl frames offering some of the best performance in this category.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient– Especially relevant in summer months and in hot, sunny climates, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient measures the ability of the product to resist heat gain from the outside. Assigned values range from 0 to 1.0. The lower the number, the better the product is at blocking external heat sources. Low-E glass coatings will contribute to lower Solar Heat Gain Coefficient measures because they block or reflect the heat. (Low-E coatings also help with U-Factor measures via the same mechanics – the coating bounces internal air back inside the home.)
Visual Transmittance– Transitioning to artificial lighting costs, Visual Transmittance relates to the amount of natural light the glass can be expected to let through. Values range from 0 to 1. You can expect more natural light inside the home the higher the VT number.
Air Leaking– Basically a measure of draft, this performance rating runs from .1 to .3. The lower the number, the less air leakage one can expect. Frame material, frame operation and window installer skill can all influence this dynamic. The way the window opens, what we’re referring to as the window operation, will drive air leaking measurement given the design of the product. For example, awning and hopper styles (where only either the top or the bottom is hinged and the glass swings open) deliver some of the best air leakage values (beyond a fixed or picture window), but aren’t always desirable or functional in a given space. However, most modern windows on the market today will still optimize air leakage risk with special hinge designs.
Condensation Rating– An optional measurement for NFRC product labeling, Condensation Rating will suggest the degree of interior condensation the homeowner can expect. The rating range is 0 – 100. The higher the number, the better the product is at resisting condensation.
We want you to be an informed consumer as you consider your options; but, rest assured, you can count on the team at Southern Windows and Doors to walk you through all efficiency features as you make your buying decision.
Expertise In Product Selection and Installation Will Ensure Efficiency
Working with a knowledgeable window expert, you can be confident in your buying decision, knowing you are getting the most efficient solution for your home. Partnering with an experienced window installer will ensure you get proper fit in order to capitalize on the technological efficiencies. With nearly 50 years of window installation experience, Southern Windows and Doors has installed over 40,000 windows in the DFW area. We bring valuable product selection expertise and top quality customer service to every project. Ready to get started? Schedule your consultation today ad we will help you choose energy efficient solutions for your home style, lifestyle and budget.