Replacement Window Features that Offer Energy Savings

November 18, 2011

Just because you have a limited budget for your window replacement project doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the energy-efficient features that some of the premium brands offer. There's often a large price separation between windows at the high end of the price spectrum when compared to more budget friendly selections, but when it comes to saving energy, you might discover that they all do a pretty good job.

Many homeowners might agree that a window's cosmetic options are what separate high end windows from the rest--custom grid patterns, numerous exterior cladding colors, and even being able to choose the wood species for your interior frames can be worth the additional costs associated with better replacement windows.

Depending on why you're upgrading your windows, these features can be great reasons for choosing premium model lines as you probably aren't going to find many of those choices on budget friendly replacement windows.

However, fiberglass frames, brass hardware, and true divided lites aren't going to do much to lower your heating and cooling bills. So, what features should you look for when selecting a window for better energy efficiency?

1. Low U-factor

This is a measurement of the amount of heat the window allows to escape over a specific period of time while in a closed position. Manufacturers achieve high ratings by using multiple panes of glass, insulating gas between panes, and quality materials.

Lower U-factor measurements are more desirable, as the lower number equates to less heat escaping.

2. Low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient

The SHGC is a measurement of the amount of radiant solar heat the window's glass allows into your home. If you live in a southern state, this rating may be of particular importance during the summer months--choose windows with lower SHGC measurements.

3. Energy Star rating

Replacement windows that meet the high energy efficiency standards set by the Department of Energy are awarded an Energy Star rating--regardless of price. All testing is done by an independent firm and factors such as U-factor and the SHGC are taken into consideration.

Premium brands can be worth the additional cost if cosmetic options are just as important as your replacement windows' energy efficiency, but if saving money on your heating and cooling bills is the primary reason for your upgrade, there are many great choices in every price range.

Jeffrey Anderson has a Degree in English from V.M.I., and served as an officer in the Marine Corps. He worked in Residential and Commercial construction management for 25 years before retiring to write full time. He spends his time writing, remodeling his old farmhouse, and in animal rescue.

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