There is a lot to get into when it comes to windows. They are more than just a hole in the wall with a glass so you can see through. Window technology has advanced drastically over the years leading way to triple and quad pane windows, better framing materials and techniques as well as all sorts of interesting latches and jambs that allow you to remove the window for cleaning or open it different ways. If you’ve been holding off on replacing you windows for a while it might be a good time to look into what options are on the table nowadays. Of course before you delve into the deep end of window brands, styles, materials etc… there are a few basic things you should know.

First and foremost are the efficiency ratings. Not because I’m trying to preach eco-friendliness but because these will tell you how much light they let in as well as how well they will insulate your home. The Energy Star and National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) are in charge or rating windows and other energy efficient products. They use the following on windows:
U-Factor or U-Value – This tells you how good the window is at keeping heat in. It’s a value ranging from 0.20 to 1.20. The lower the number the better the window is at keeping heat from escaping.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) – This number tells you how much heat from the sun the windows allow into your home. A number ranging between 0 and 1 the lower the number the less heat from the sun gets in your house. If you live somewhere hot you want a low number to keep cooling bills down, in a colder climate you’ll want a higher number to keep your heating bills down.

Visible Transmittance (VT) – this number tells you how much visible light the windows will let into your home. It’s a number between 0-1, the higher the number the more light it lets into your home.

Knowing these basic things when looking for a window will make a world of difference. In communicating what it is you’re looking when buying your windows.