Finding the right windows for your home is one of the best decisions. High-performance windows are excellent for day-lighting, energy savings, comfort, and solar heat gain. Residential windows are part of a broader puzzle involving the type and design of your home and your locality’s climate.
What Are the Best-Performing Residential Windows?
You can choose different window types for a residential project. Some experts are split between Canadian and German windows, while others point out that triple-glazed or double-glazed foam-filled fiberglass-frame casement windows are the best. However, this is a broad assessment. Most people consider energy efficiency when figuring out the best windows, especially in cold climates.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all standard when choosing residential windows, more so the glass. The most beneficial glass for hot or mixed climates won’t be excellent for cold climates. Furthermore, modifying the glass type to suit glass on specific windows is essential for comfort and energy efficiency. The window glass that suits the north-facing walls may not be suited to south-facing walls.
Double Vs. Triple-Glazed Windows: What’s the Best Option?
Triple-glazed windows are mandatory in Germany and standard in much of Scandinavia. These windows are renowned for energy efficiency, comfort, and noise-reduction ability, making them excellent for cold climates. On the flip side, triple-glazed windows may not be suited to areas with moderate, mixed, or hot climates. Double-glazed windows are a more appropriate choice in such areas.
The Best Window Reviews and Ratings
You’ll get tempted to look at customer reviews when shopping for residential windows. However, the reviews are often biased and primarily focus on secondary features. There’s no better way to deduce a window’s quality than evaluating its labels and specifications. In this regard, you need to keep the following acronyms in mind:
- AL (Air Leakage) refers to a window’s resistance to air leakage.
- U-Factor (window insulation value) is a window’s capacity to block heat transmission and its ability to prevent heat from entering or escaping a room through itself.
- VT (Visual Transmission) is the amount of visible light that the window glass admits.
- SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) is a window’s shading ability.
Depending on the geographical location of your construction project, you should keep these window labels and ratings in mind:
1. US Window Labels
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) rates windows based on specific criteria. Rated windows feature an NFRC label.
2. Canada Window Rating
All windows in Canada must list their SHGC and U-factor. Window manufacturers are also required to display the Energy Rating (ER) number and Air Leaking rating. Typically, the ER ranges from 0 to 50, and a higher rating means better energy efficiency. A window’s Energy Star rating qualification largely depends on its ER.
3. Europe Window Labels
The British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC) outlines bands from A to G. The best-performing windows feature the Energy Saving Recommended label. You can learn more by checking out the BFRC website.
In Australia, the Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) rates windows from 0 to 5 stars for heating (winter) and cooling (summer). The best-performing windows have a 5-star rating.
Best Replacement Windows
After buying homes in San Antonio, some people may not like the existing windows. If that’s the case, you’ll undoubtedly want to replace them. Even if you have the best-performing windows, they won’t serve the purpose if your home is poorly insulated. Thus, before you replace your windows, you should consider your home’s overall airtightness and insulation.
Best Windows for Cold Climates
If you’re constructing a home in a place with a cold climate, consider double or triple-glazed windows with a low U-factor and high SHGC. The ideal values and ratings are:
- Double-glazed windows specs
Whole-window SHGC: 0.42 to 0.55 (the higher, the better).
Whole-window U-value: 0.30 to 0.39 (the lower, the better).
- Triple-glazed windows specs
Whole-window SHGC: 0.33 to 0.47 (the higher, the better).
Whole-window U-value: 0.19 to 0.26 (the lower the better).
It’s best to use triple-glazed windows in energy-efficient homes, colder climates, and noisy locations. The appropriate frame for these windows is low-conductive, foam-filled vinyl and fiberglass.
Best Windows for Hot Climates
Double-glazed windows with a low SHGC are excellent in hot climates. If you opt for these windows, these are the specifications to keep in mind:
- Whole-window SHGC: 0.28 to 0.37 (the lower, the better).
- Whole-window U-value: less than 0.30 (the lower, the better).
- Window size and shading: It’s challenging to shade west or east-facing windows. Thus, they’re a source of overheating. Protecting the windows with wide porches can prevent overheating.
In hotter climates, the goal of choosing north and south-facing windows is to keep unnecessary heat out of the home. Form-filled fiberglass and vinyl frames are excellent for window glass. Excellent insulation is also essential, especially if a building is air-conditioned.
Best Windows for Mixed and Moderate Climates
In mixed and moderate climates, you should choose double-glazed windows with the following specifications:
- Low U-value
- Low conductive vinyl and foam-filled fiberglass frame.
- SHGC values vary according to the direction the windows face. East/west-facing windows should be small and have a low SHGC to minimize solar heat gains.
- Low air infiltration, especially with casement windows.
What’s the Best Residential Window Glass?
Ideally, the glass you choose for your home windows should have low e-coatings. This means having metallic coatings on one side to enhance thermal insulation. Most highly insulated windows have a low SHGC, making them ideal for hot climates rather than cold climates. You also need to consider a window’s air leakage and visible light transmittance coefficients.
Best Window Frames
A window frame dictates its strength and frequency of maintenance besides being a critical element of insulation performance. You can choose from different frame types, including composite, fiberglass, aluminum, wood, and vinyl.
Best Window Spacers
Spacers provide the seal between a window’s glass and frame. Aluminum spacers don’t guarantee energy efficiency, whereas non-aluminum spacers (or warm-edge spacers) provide higher insulation. Thus, they’re excellent for high-performance windows. So, if you’re ordering residential windows and need energy efficiency, look no further than non-aluminum spacers.
When buying a home in San Antonio, TX, nothing speaks of its energy efficiency more than the windows. At Orchard, we’re committed to safeguarding your investment and helping you to secure energy-efficient homes that suit your needs. Browse our listings to get started.
Salman Zafar is an ecopreneur, consultant, advisor, speaker and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection, conservation and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. Salman is the Founder of EcoMENA, a popular voluntary organization based in Qatar. He is also the Founder and CEO of BioEnergy Consult, a reputed consulting firm active in biomass, waste-to-energy and waste management segments.
Salman is a professional environmental writer with more than 350 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass environmental awareness in different parts of the world.
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