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Your Checklist for Choosing Energy-Efficient Vinyl Windows

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Resources / Your Checklist for Choosing Energy-Efficient Vinyl Windows

When the time comes to purchase new or replacement windows, most homeowners want to save money by selecting products in the lower- to mid-price range, since they have multiple units to buy. But lower-priced, lower-quality windows may allow damaging UV rays, heat, condensation, and airflow in, and depending on the climate of the region, can significantly reduce the energy efficiency of the home. Investing in high-quality vinyl replacement windows will allow the homeowner to save on utility bills, realize long-term value, and enjoy a comfortable home environment. Choosing energy-efficient windows begins with a few simple considerations.

Endure Double Hung Window
Endure Double Hung Window

1. Understand Your Climate Zone -- Where you live can have a major impact on the proper windows to purchase. To help homeowners identify the most energy-efficient windows for their homes, the EPA has developed a climate zone map, dividing the country into four regions, and provides recommended values for 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.

Aeris Casement Window
Aeris Casement Window

Other factors that determine a window’s energy efficiency:
Visible Transmittance represents the amount of daylight that passes through the glass. A high number allows more light to pass through the glass than a low number. Most homeowners prefer as much visible light as possible.

Air Infiltration/Leakage measures how much air is entering or escaping through a window; rates typically fall into a range between 0.1 and 0.5. The lower the number, the better the window is at keeping exterior air out and interior air in.

Condensation Resistance measures how well the window resists moisture build-up when exposed to extreme interior and exterior temperature changes. Higher numbers show better resistance to condensation.

Check out the Energy Star Climate Zone Map on ProVia’s website to view the four United States climate zones and determine which window best suits your region.

Aspect Picture Window
Aspect Picture Window

2. Do a Little Research – Vinyl replacement window specs are available from manufacturers’ websites; download these documents to compare performance values in your climate zone. Make sure the windows have been independently tested to meet energy-efficiency standards and verify that the windows are ENERGY STAR® Certified. “Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows lowers household energy bills by an average of 12 percent nationwide,” explains ENERGY STAR. Citing Residential Windows, ENERGY STAR also notes “A standard double-pane window allows approximately 75 percent of the sun’s heat into your home,” making your air conditioner work harder and contributing to higher utility costs. “Most ENERGY STAR certified windows,” explains ENERGY STAR, “reduce the ‘heat gain’ into your home more than typical windows do, without reducing the visible light.”

ecoLite Window
ecoLite Window

3. Explore Other Options that make vinyl windows even more energy efficient:

Glass coatings provide a UV shield that reflects heat and minimizes harmful rays that can fade interior furnishings. Look for windows with a high-performance Low-E coating that offers UV protection for your floors, carpets, and furniture.

Spacers between glass panes can reduce heat loss and interior condensation. Choose windows that incorporate a flexible foam spacer with a barrier sealant, acrylic seal, and moisture vapor barrier.

Weatherstripping consisting of bulb seals and barrier fins on the window frame and sash provide a seal to prevent air from passing through.

All four of ProVia’s window lines – Endure, Aeris, Aspect, and ecoLite –offer exceptional energy efficiency, quality, and comfort.