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Photo Credit: Kolbe Windows & Doors

Windows do so much for one’s home: from providing natural light, insulation and Windows do so much for one’s home: from providing natural light, insulation and security, to offering views to the outside, and even protecting the home from weather conditions and UV rays. So, it comes as no surprise that when it’s time to build a home or start a home redesign project, windows are one of the first essentials to consider. Choosing which windows to install represents a unique opportunity for builders, architects and remodelers to express their creativity and take advantage of the opportunity to save energy. However, selecting the right windows and doors can come with challenges and questions from homeowners. This refresher on installing and selecting new windows will remove some of the guesswork so you can easily pass this information on to your customers.

The Climate and Location

When it comes to installing new windows, the climate of the geographic area is key. Building energy codes recognize this and have different window performance requirements based on the local climate (check with your state or local building department to find the requirements for your area). Nearly all windows will have a National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label containing the energy performance characteristics of that window.

The U-Factor, which measures how well the window insulates, is an important characteristic. It is especially critical to have a low U-factor in cold climates to reduce the heat loss in the winter months. Second to the U-Factor comes the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), which measures how well a window blocks heat from the sun. Once again, the geographic location matters: having a low SHGC is more important in climates that are hot (e.g., Arizona and Florida) where reflecting the direct heat from the sun will reduce the need for air conditioning.


Photo Credit: Kolbe Windows & Doors

Given that climates can be so different from one state to another, builders, remodelers and architects can use the energy performance ratings to determine which windows and doors are the most appropriate for the location. Even higher elevations may require a different window design, like for altitudes over 4,000 ft., double pane windows may require the use of capillary tubes because the change in pressure from the manufacturing elevation may cause the units to break or crack. If the area has high moisture, multi-slide doors with flush style tracks have a hard time keeping water out, because they have lower design pressures. In hot climates, windows with multiple Low-E coatings, such as an additional hard-coat Low-E on the interior surface, will help lower the U-value and reduce solar heat gain.

Along with windows, the structure of the home itself can change based on the climate. Over the past few years there has been an increase in homes being built with thicker walls, in response to a demand for better insulation all year round. It is expected that in the next few years, with passive house and net zero energy efficiency options included in state building codes across the country, the structure of homes will undergo even further changes. It is important that builders and window installers closely follow the window installation instructions, especially for some of the new wall configurations to ensure that the window can perform well over its lifetime.

To help decrease energy consumption while effectively protecting the customer’s home, architects, builders and remodelers may want to select ENERGY STAR certified windows. With these windows, you can be sure you are providing the right high-performance, energy-efficient products for your customer’s location. To be ENERGY STAR certified, these windows have to meet strict energy efficiency requirements, and must meet a robust third-party independent certification through the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). In addition to undergoing a rigorous certification process, ENERGY STAR windows can provide protection against harmful, ultraviolet (UV) light and shielding from summer heat or winter chills. With more efficient windows tailored to the specific location of the home, homeowners will be able to lower energy use with guaranteed indoor comfort. To find the right ENERGY STAR climate zone based on location, click here.


Photo Credit: Kolbe Windows & Doors

Standards and Regulations

Ensuring the windows and doors meet the state’s current energy code requirements is vital. When choosing new windows and doors, building codes are an important consideration. NFRC labels provide useful rating information on energy performance.

When thinking of which windows to install in the next home renovation or new build project, there are several factors to consider – from the climate to the location and architectural style of the home, to the functionality and aesthetic appeal. If done right, choosing the right windows can turn a new or old home into something truly spectacular.


Photo Credit: Kolbe Windows & Doors

In collaboration with: Kolbe Windows & Doors

Member of the Window & Door Manufacturers Association.