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When the time comes to purchase replacement windows, many 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. Educating buyers on choosing energy-efficient windows begins with a few simple considerations.
1. Understand Your Climate Zone — Where you live can have a major impact on the proper vinyl replacement 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. U-factor values generally range from 0.25 to 1.25; 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. SHGC is measured on a scale of 0 to 1; values typically range from 0.25 to 0.80. Lower numbers show the glass is keeping heat from entering your home.
Other factors that determine a window’s energy efficiency:
Air Leakage measures how much outside air comes into a home or building through a window; rates generally fall into a range between 0.1 and 0.5. The lower the air leakage, the better the window is at keeping out air.
Condensation Resistance measures the amount of moisture it takes for glass to condensate when exposed to extreme interior and exterior temperature changes. It is scored on a scale from 0 to 100; higher numbers show better resistance to condensation.
ProVia vinyl replacement windows are ENERGY STAR certified and rated in several energy performance categories through the National Fenestration Rating Council. Check out the Climate Zone Map to view the four United States climate zones and review side-by-side comparisons of ProVia windows, or refer to ProVia’s Energy Performance Calculator to help identify the right values for your region.
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. Qualified, energy-efficient windows can shrink utility bills by an average of 12% nationwide*, compared to non-certified products. A standard double-pane window may allow approximately 75 percent of the sun’s heat into a home, making your air conditioner work harder and contributing to higher utility bills. ENERGY STAR certified windows can minimize heat gain better than standard windows, without reducing the visible light.
3. Explore Other Options that make vinyl windows even more energy efficient:
Glass coatings can provide UV protection to reflect heat and minimize harmful rays that can fade interior furnishings. ProVia’s ComforTech Warm Edge Glazing System on Aeris, Endure, and Aspect windows features 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. ProVia Aeris, Endure, and Aspect windows incorporate a flexible foam spacer with a barrier sealant, acrylic seal, and moisture vapor barrier, resulting in warmer glass temperatures.
Weatherstripping plays an important part in blocking air, water, and dust infiltration. ProVia vinyl windows are manufactured with triple weatherstripping on the frame and sash, providing an effective barrier.
Frame material can make a major difference, too. ProVia replacement windows are composed of SunShield® vinyl, a high-performance compound formulated to withstand the harsh effects of weather and ultraviolet light, while providing color retention, dimensional stability, and impact resistance. The welded frame and sash design provides superior strength versus mechanically built systems.