Energy Savings and Efficiency
What makes a high efficiency window for the Houston climate is very different than one that is best for a cold climate like Minneapolis. So the definition of an ‘efficient’ window only makes sense when you know the climate it was designed for. Things like argon gas, dual vs. triple pane or the type and location of Low-E used all vary based upon the climate issues you are trying to control. While some national manufacturers make an ‘average efficiency’ window that can be used in a number of climates, no one window is best for ALL climates. Since Custom Windows develops and builds windows exclusively for the Houston climate, we target those technologies that will provide the best in efficiency to tame the Gulf Coast weather.
While it is obviously important that a window meet the Texas Energy Codes, an even tougher standard is the new 2015 Energy Star requirements. The NFRC label on each window provides the specifications to help you compare the efficiency of different windows. But with Custom Windows you know that every vinyl, reinforce vinyl, fiberglass or fiberglass clad wood window meets or exceeds the tough Energy Star requirements for Houston, so you know your windows meet even the toughest standards.
There are two key energy performance ratings for windows to be aware of:
U-Factor: This measures the amount of heat loss from inside your home to outdoors through conductivity and convection. The measurements range between a low of .15 through 1.20, and while the lower the number the better, it is truly a cold winter measurement targeting especially northern climates. For Texas Code, the required U-Factor in Houston is .65 or lower with Energy Star requiring a much tougher .40 maximum
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): This is the most critical measurement for the Gulf Coast. SHGC measures the ability of a window to keep solar heat out of the home, whether from direct solar infrared or from reflected heat that reradiates into the home. Here the requirements for Texas Code are much tougher and windows must meet a .40 or less measurement. The new 2015 Energy Star requirements are even tougher, requiring windows to meet .25 or less to qualify for Energy Star status.
Custom Windows: Every vinyl, reinforced vinyl, fiberglass and fiberglass clad wood window sold by Custom Windows easily exceeds the Texas Code but also the new Energy Star requirements. Even if it is a product built by a manufacturer such as Milgard, Safe Harbor or Jeld-Wen who may sell products that do not meet our tough Energy Star requirements, Custom Windows takes the time and care to specifically configure these window to achieve Energy Star status to provide the maximum comfort and energy efficiency for your home.
Every window company promises energy savings and improved efficiency. So how do you really know whom to believe? There are a few ways that you can become a more educated consumer so that you don’t fall prey to hype.
Tools and Resources: The best resources for learning about window efficiencies and specific climate areas like Houston are all independent industry sources. Some of the most informative include:
http://www.nfrc.org/WindowRatings/index.html – This is the NFRC which sets the ratings standards for the entire window industry. The link above will bring you to sections that can help inform and educate. It also explains the NFRC ratings label that is on every window that we sell and install. It is this NFRC label that ensures that you are indeed getting the most efficient windows possible for the Houston climate!
http://www.efficientwindows.org/understanding.php – This is the Efficient Windows collaborative and they have a very consumer-friendly explanation of general window types and efficiency ratings for specific regions.
http://www.cardinalcorp.com/technology/applications/energy-calculator/ – and for those who are willing to spend a little time, the energy calculator at Cardinal Glass can show you the impact in both energy costs as well as comfort. This tool has weather data from cities across the US, so it is tied precisely to weather and industry data for all of the calculations.
Custom Windows wants you to be informed. The more you know, the better the long-term decisions you can make for you and your family. And since we specialize exclusively in the gulf coast climate, we will avoid the hype and develop solutions with you that maximize efficiency, comfort, and affordability.