Questions About Buying New
Windows, Doors or Skylights?
In today's market there are many choices of window and door products -- in addition to decisions regarding color and style, the window shopper must also:
- Understand how product performance can affect energy use,
- Determine what performance ratings to look for in their climate zones, and
- Compare products to find those that best meet the sum of the needs.
It is here that many consumers need guidance. And it is here that this website and the NFRC Label can guide the consumer to choosing the best windows, doors, and skylights for their needs.
Why Does the NFRC Label Matter?
The NFRC Label will not tell you which window to purchase, but NFRC Certified Ratings can be a valuable tool, much like the miles-per-gallon sticker on a new car. The NFRC Label provides:
- Whole Product Ratings –The NFRC testing protocols involve testing of the full window -- including glass, frame, spacers, and any other component that is a permanent part of the complete product. This strategy provides you with a more accurate reflection of how the product will perform in the home than testing of just glass, as the framing and other components influence ratings such as U-factor, Solar Heat Gain, and Visible Transmittance. (For more information about these ratings and what they mean for you, see Energy Ratings.)
- Information You Can Trust – The NFRC Label is the only window label that provides Certified Ratings that are acquired through independent testing of the product. An interactive example of the NFRC Label is shown, with information on the Certified Ratings provided, on The NFRC Label page.
- A Way to Verify the Accuracy of the Label –The NFRC rating process provides you with a way to verify that the Certified Ratings provided on the NFRC Label are accurate via the Certified Products Directory (CPD). The NFRC Label provides the manufacturer name, the type of window, as well as the Full CPD Number, making searching the database for the product a snap.
- A Fair and Accurate Basis for Comparing Products – Ratings on the NFRC Label have been achieved through standardized test methods at independently operated laboratories. This standardized method allows you to compare Certified Ratings on the NFRC Label of Manufacturer “A” to those on the Certified Label of Manufacturer “B” – for equal and fair comparisons. For more information on comparing products, see The Shopping Guide and print out "Understanding the NFRC Label" to bring the information to the store with you.
- Confidence That the Product You are Buying Will Meet Your Needs – The NFRC Label provides the performance information that you need to determine how the window will perform in the home. The NFRC Label allows you to make an informed choice about an expensive product that will stay in your home for many years.
The NFRC label provides information on how a window performs. The two most important energy ratings are U-factor and Solar Heat Gain.
By reviewing the label information, consumers can make an informed choice about the product that is best for their individual situation.
See Windows 101 for more details on U-factor and Solar Heat Gain.
The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have developed an ENERGY STAR® designation for products meeting certain energy performance criteria. Since the energy efficiency performance of windows, doors and skylights can vary by climate, product recommendations are given for four climate zones: a mostly heating zone (Northern); two heating and cooling zones (North/Central and South/Central); and a mostly cooling zone (Southern).
For more information about ENERGY STAR windows, see www.energystar.gov.
Fenestration refers to any opening in a
building's walls, such as a window, door, or skylight.
It is based on the Latin word for
windows – "fenestra"
- FENESTRATION refers to any product that fills an opening in a building and includes windows,
doors, skylights, and curtain walls?
These products are designed to permit the passage of air, light, vehicles, or people.
- that many local building codes require egress windows in some rooms to be considered a bedroom?
Find out if your bedroom windows qualify in Windows 101.
- it's a good idea to have fire drills at home to make sure all of the home's occupants – including children – know how to operate escape windows in the event of an emergency?
- a study of schools found that more daylight in the classroom resulted in improved performance on math and reading tests. (Heschong Mahone Group Study, August 20, 1999.)
For information on how Daylighting can affect home life, see Windows 101.
- some areas require impact resistant windows or window coverings in building codes?
Does this "impact" you? See Benefits of Improving Windows for additional information.
- special windows that can prevent break-ins and even stop bullets are available from window manufacturers?
- all ENERGY STAR® qualified windows are required to display the ENERGY STAR label?
If there is no label, it does not qualify for ENERGY STAR.
- some utility companies offer rebates for home improvements such as new windows?
Check with your local utility to find out about rebates and to ensure you purchase qualifying products.
- in order to qualify for ENERGY STAR®, fenestration products must be rated according to procedures established by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC).
- products carrying the NFRC Label have been independently tested and certified by the manufacturer?
This is a voluntary program that allows you –the consumer – to accurately compare unbiased product ratings
- the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) was founded in 1989.
The first rating procedure – for U-factor – was adopted in 1991; test procedures for Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) and Visible Transmittance (VT) were adopted in 1993.
Energy Ratings will explain the numbers on the NFRC Label and what they mean to you!
- there are many different styles of windows?
See Windows 101 for a list of some of the more popular options so you know exactly what you want when you shop!
- that poor quality windows can cause color fading of your carpets, furniture, and artwork?
See Windows 101 for information on what causes fading and what you can do to reduce it.
- that you have more options about windows than just style?
Anatomy of a Window will provide you with the information you need to make informed choices.
- your local building codes may require new windows be to specific standards.
Our Shopping Guide discusses what you need to know about codes.