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Energy Performance Ratings for Windows, Doors, and Skylights
You can use the energy performance ratings of windows, doors, and skylights to tell you their potential for gaining and losing heat, as well as transmitting sunlight into your home.
Heat Gain and Loss
Windows, doors, skylights can gain and lose heat in the following ways:
Direct conduction through the glass or glazing, frame, and/or door
The radiation of heat into a house (typically from the sun) and out of a house from room-temperature objects, such as people, furniture, and interior walls
Air leakage through and around them.
These properties can be measured and rated according to the following energy performance characteristics:
The rate at which a window, door, or skylight conducts non-solar heat flow. It's usually expressed in units of Btu/hr-ft2-ºF. For windows, skylights, and glass doors, a U-factor may refer to just the glass or glazing alone. But National Fenestration Rating Council U-factor ratings represent the entire window performance, including frame and spacer material. The lower the U-factor, the more energy-efficient the window, door, or skylight.
Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC)
A fraction of solar radiation admitted through a window, door, or skylight—either transmitted directly and/or absorbed, and subsequently released as heat inside a home. The lower the SHGC, the less solar heat it transmits and the greater its shading ability. A product with a high SHGC rating is more effective at collecting solar heat gain during the winter. A product with a low SHGC rating is more effective at reducing cooling loads during the summer by blocking heat gained from the sun. Therefore, what SHGC you need for a window, door, or skylight should be determined by such factors as your climate, orientation, and external shading. For more information about SHGC and windows, see passive solar window design at solarserdar.wordpress.com
The rate of air infiltration around a window, door, or skylight in the presence of a specific pressure difference across it. It's expressed in units of cubic feet per minute per square foot of frame area (cfm/ft2). A product with a low air leakage rating is tighter than one with a high air leakage rating.
A window's, door's, or skylight's ability to transmit sunlight into a home can be measured and rated according to the following energy performance characteristics:
Visible transmittance (VT)
A fraction of the visible spectrum of sunlight (380 to 720 nanometers), weighted by the sensitivity of the human eye, that is transmitted through a window's, door's, or skylight's glazing. A product with a higher VT transmits more visible light. VT is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The VT you need for a window, door, or skylight should be determined by your home's daylighting requirements and/or whether you need to reduce interior glare in a space.More info at email@example.com
Light-to-solar gain (LSG)
The ratio between the SHGC and VT. It provides a gauge of the relative efficiency of different glass or glazing types in transmitting daylight while blocking heat gains. The higher the number, the more light transmitted without adding excessive amounts of heat. This energy performance rating isn't always provided.
Energy Performance Testing, Certification and Labeling
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) operates a voluntary program that tests, certifies, and labels windows, doors, and skylights based on their energy performance ratings. The NFRC label provides a reliable way to determine a window's energy properties and to compare products.
The NFRC label can be found on all ENERGY STAR® qualified window, door, and skylight products, but ENERGY STAR bases its qualification only on U-factor and SHGC ratings.
See Learn More on the right side of this page (or below if you've printed it out) for links to NFRC and ENERGY STAR information.
An exterior door can contribute significantly to air leakage in a home—as well as some heat transfer—if it's old, not properly installed, and/or not properly air sealed. This can result in energy losses.
Daylighting is the use of windows and skylights to bring sunlight into your home.
Today's highly energy-efficient windows, as well as advances in lighting design, allow efficient use of windows to reduce the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours without causing heating or cooling problems.More info at solarserdar.wordpress.com
The best way to incorporate daylighting in your home depends on your climate and home's design. The sizes and locations of windows should be based on the cardinal directions rather than their effect on the street-side appearance of the house.
South-facing windows are most advantageous for daylighting and for moderating seasonal temperatures. They allow most winter sunlight into the home but little direct sun during the summer, especially when properly shaded.
North-facing windows are also advantageous for daylighting. They admit relatively even, natural light, producing little glare and almost no unwanted summer heat gain.
Although east- and west-facing windows provide good daylight penetration in the morning and evening, respectively, they should be limited. They may cause glare, admit a lot of heat during the summer when it is usually not wanted, and contribute little to solar heating during the winter.
If you're constructing a new house, you want to consider daylighting as part of your whole-house design—an approach for building an energy-efficient home.
Space Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. A wide variety of technologies are available for heating and cooling your home, and they achieve a wide range of efficiencies in converting their energy sources into useful heat or cool air for your home. In addition, many heating and cooling systems have certain supporting equipment in common, such as thermostats and ducts, which provide opportunities for saving energy.
When looking for ways to save energy in your home, be sure to think about not only improving your existing heating and cooling system, but also consider the energy efficiency of the supporting equipment and the possibility of either adding supplementary sources of heating or cooling or simply replacing your system altogether.
Selecting and Replacing Heating and Cooling Systems
When replacing or upgrading an existing heating and cooling system, it's important to first consider the limitations imposed by your current system and available energy sources. When selecting a heating and cooling system for a new house, your options are generally much wider, although your builder or developer may place limitations on your choices.More info at firstname.lastname@example.org
Depending on where you live, cooling your home can be as simple as opening a window or as complex as using a central air conditioning unit. A wide variety of cooling technologies are available.
Although most U.S. homes use either a furnace or a boiler, other approaches range from wood stoves to active solar heating systems.
Heat Pump Systems
Heat pump systems provide both heating and cooling and offer the benefit of delivering more useful energy than they consume.
Supporting Equipment for Heating and Cooling Systems
Thermostats and ducts provide opportunities for saving energy. Dehumidifying heat pipes allow central air conditioners and heat pumps to deliver drier air. Electric and gas meters allow you to track your energy use closely.
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