Vinyl Window Energy Efficiency

October 11, 2010

Today's vinyl windows offer consumers solid options in a durable product that ranks high in energy efficiency. But you'll need to make enlightened choices on window options to get the most out of your vinyl windows. Depending on your climate, low-E, argon-filled windows, multiple glazes, special coatings, and other options can boost your efficiency.

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Each vinyl window product comes adorned with a label from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), charting its energy efficiency. Homes are said to lose as much as 30 percent of their energy through their windows. Depending on your choices, you may save up to $150 in heating and cooling bills with the right vinyl windows for your region. Ratings measure U-factors, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SOHGC), Visible Transmittance (VT), Air Leakage and Condensation Resistance.

Vinyl Windows Ratings and Options

Vinyl windows lose energy in three main ways: conducting heat or cold directly through the glazing or frame, through leaks and cracks that allow air to escape from the home, and by the amount of solar heat that passes through into your home. Because vinyl holds up better to extremes in weather than wooden windows, they're said to be generally more energy efficient. You won't need to repaint them every few years or patch up cracks that lead to leakage.

ENERGY STAR ratings are made only on U-factor and SOHGC ratings. That means you can meet or exceed governmental requirements for tax credit programs by selecting vinyl windows with a U-factor and SHGC rating of .30 or lower. The benefit of low-E glass in vinyl windows is that they still allow sunlight to enter your home while blocking the heat associated with solar radiation.

Insist on using contractors that follow manufacturers' specifications.

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