A little research goes a long way in identifying the best energy-efficient windows for your home.
How to choose energy-efficient windows isn’t a question with a quick answer.
The best vinyl replacement windows for your home represent a combination of comfort and long-term value that only you can determine.
But a few simple considerations can lead you to the best selection of energy-efficient windows for your unique set of needs.
1. Know your zone
To help homeowners identify the most energy-efficient windows for their homes, the federal EPA has developed a climate zone map, dividing the country into four regions.
For each region, the EPA provides recommended values for the two major characteristics that affect the energy efficiency of vinyl windows:
U-Factor measures the insulating value of the entire window as a complete system. The lower the U-Factor, the better the window insulates.
SHGC, or Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, represents the amount of heat from the sun that passes through the glass. Lower numbers show the glass is keeping heat from entering your home.
While these terms and their definitions sound pretty techie, their goal is simple and straightforward: To help you use less energy to stay warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer and more comfortable all year-round.
Visit our Find Your Comfort Zone page for a side-by-side comparison of how each stacks up, or refer to ProVia’s easy-to-use Thermal Performance Calculator to help identify the right values for your region.
2. Check the specs
Numbers don’t lie. Download vinyl replacement window specs from manufacturer websites and compare those figures to suggested performance values in your climate zone.
Also, make sure the windows have been independently tested to meet strict Energy Efficiency Standards and check to see that the windows are ENERGY STAR® Certified.
Qualified, energy-efficient windows offer several benefits, including:
- Real money savings with lower energy bills
- Reduced use of the earth’s precious energy resources
- Greater comfort, with an end to cold drafts and overheated spaces in your home
- Additional protection for your floors, carpets and furniture, thanks to the low-emissivity coatings on ENERGY STAR certified windows that reduce UV sun damage
3. Get a little technical
Double or triple glazing...Low-E...argon gas...krypton gas...There are a wide range of replacement window glass upgrades available that make vinyl windows more energy efficient, and you’ll also want to consider components like:
- Warm Edge Spacer System - the right spacers can reduce heat loss and interior condensation
- Triple weather stripping - standard on some replacement windows, triple weather stripping greatly reduces air infiltration, while providing optimal energy efficiency
- Frame construction - window frame extrusions are more than a series of walls and chambers to hold glass
- Frame material - the frame material can make a major difference, too. ProVia replacement windows are composed of SunShield® vinyl, a premium high-performance compound uniquely formulated to withstand the harsh effects of weather and ultraviolet light, while providing superior color retention, dimensional stability and impact resistance. SunShield® also is environmentally safe, resists insects and will not rot.
How do you decide what makes sense in your climate and what you need to keep you comfortable?
4. Look beyond the window
Poorly installed vinyl windows won’t deliver the comfort or performance you paid for.
But a reputable dealer – a licensed, insured company that sells and installs replacement windows – can help ensure your new energy-efficient windows deliver their full value.
During installation, make sure to check on important factors like:
- A little extra room for shimming and insulating
- Existing trim work that is secure and big enough to fit your windows
- Fiberglass insulation or non-expanding foam insulation that fills every crevice – Check for drafts by holding a flame up to the window to see if it flickers.
- Proper flashing, drip cap included
5. Research, research, research
While educating yourself is important, you don’t need to be a window expert – you just need to know enough to pick the best energy-efficient window for your home and circumstances out of the crowded marketplace.
You can perform some useful due diligence by:
- Checking the dealer’s rating at the Better Business Bureau or on the Guild Quality list-a way of recognizing service excellence
- Visiting a showroom or asking to see lists of referrals and jobs in your neighborhood
- Looking for a dealer that provides Good, Better, Best Product offerings, with a variety of price ranges for different performance levels
Don’t be afraid of a brand you’ve never heard of – brand names aren’t everything. Check the specs and research the manufacturer and you’ll find the best replacement windows for your home, regardless of brand recognition.
For more in-depth information on window styles, energy efficiency technologies and performance specifications, visit the Windows Resources section of our website. You can also view our Windows Gallery for beautiful photos of a whole range of different window configurations, decorative glass options and frame colors.