Choosing Replacement Windows? 5 Important Tips You MUST Consider!


You know what I find super frustrating?  Sometimes when I’m shopping for a product, I have a hard time sifting through all the marketing noise to get to the real information. Now that we’ve bought our new home, we’re looking for replacement windows and a new sliding glass door to boost our energy efficiency.  (Because paying more for heating?  UGH.)  You guys know I love shopping my home, but figuring out what to buy can be SO challenging!  Today, I want to talk about five things you MUST consider when purchasing replacement windows.  Yep, five tried and true (independently certified) considerations you really need to know.  Curious to learn more about how to shop for replacement windows?  Keep on reading!

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Shopping for Replacement Windows

Okay, I’m gonna admit something: when we first started looking at replacement windows and sliding doors, I really had NO idea where to start.  (And, in case you’re like me, that’s exactly why I’m sharing this post!).

Shopping for replacement windows was confusing!  There were so many stores, so many manufacturers, and so many styles, we really didn’t even know where to begin.

And it can be tricky sifting through the marketing siren song to know if a product is really as good as it claims to be.  I’ve certainly fallen hook, line, and sinker in the past only to be disappointed with a purchase.  But since replacement windows can cost a pretty penny, I wanted to make sure I was totally informed to make the best decision possible.

Here’s the good news: when it comes to things like replacement windows, glass doors, and skylights, there’s actually an independent watchdog on our side.  And this watchdog?  Yep, their whole job is to make sure that we as consumers have all the information we need to make empowered purchasing decisions.

Friends, meet the NFRC.

The NFRC Label: Your New BFF For Choosing Replacement Windows

The National Fenestration Rating Council, or “NFRC” for those in the know, provides consumers information when choosing replacement windows, glass doors, and skylights.  (All those things are “fenestration” products, hence the organization’s name.)

Think about it this way: the NFRC like a consumer watchdog.  They don’t manufacture any replacement windows or fenestration products.  Instead, they’re an independent, third-party non-profit agency that helps you compare products to make the best decisions.

What does this mean?  The NFRC provides super valuable information so that you can make the most informed decision possible when purchasing windows.

In fact, energy savings and lower utility bills are possible, depending on the specific product that you choose.  If energy savings and lower utility bills are priorities for you, then it’s important to use the NFRC label to compare options before you decide what to buy.  By using the label, you can feel confident that you’re making the right choice because you have the information in front of you.

So let’s break down the information on the NFRC label.  What can you learn?  What do you need to think about when choosing replacement windows?

Choosing Replacement Windows Tip #1: Think about Heat Loss

The first number you’ll see on the NFRC label is called the U-Factor.

U-Factor: This number measures heat loss during winter conditions. 

This number shows the amount of heat transferring from the inside of your home’s windows and escaping to the outside during the winter.  So, yup, when it comes to the U-Factor, lower is better.

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If the U-Factor number says the amount of heat going OUT of the house during window conditions, what about the amount of heat coming INTO the house?  For that, you want to check out another number.

Choosing Replacement Windows Tip #2: Consider Heat Coming Inside

The opposite of heat loss?  Heat gain.  The second number you’ll see on the NFRC label is called the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient:  This number measures how much heat’s coming IN through the windows. 

When it comes to the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, usually lower is better.  But, hey, if you live in a cold place, you might actually want a little extra free sunshine warmth coming your way.  That’s where knowing what these numbers mean comes in handy!

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Choosing Replacement Windows Tip #3: Go for Natural Light

In our hunt for the perfect replacement windows, we’ve definitely learned that not all windows are created equally.  In addition to heat gain and heat loss, another way they differ is how they transmit natural light.

And, yep, this important piece of information is also right there where you need it: on the NFRC label.

Visual Transmittance: this number measures the amount of natural light in your home. 

When it comes to visual transmittance (or VT) a higher number shows that more natural light’s gonna shine on into your home.

And, I’m gonna tell ya: natural light?  It’s a beautiful thing.  I really don’t think there’s anything better than sunshine streaming in while I’m drinking my morning coffee.  It’s such a beautiful way to start the day.   Sunshine and coffee?  Yes, please.

Plus, here’s an interesting tip:  the higher the VT number on the label?  The less artificial light you’ll need to use in your house.

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Choosing Replacement Windows Tip #4: Examine the Air Leakage

Okay, not gonna lie, the fourth consideration for choosing replacement windows sends shivers down my spine: air leakage. 

Growing up in Cleveland, we lived in a house that definitely needed new windows.  And I still remember freezing cold mornings with air sneaking in through the window sash  SO. COLD.

This is the fourth measurement you can find on your NFRC label.

Air Leakage: this number shows you how much air is moving through the window. 

The lower the number, the less air is leaking to the interior room. Bottom line: the lower the better.

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Choosing Replacement Windows Tip #5: Get Tough on Condensation

The last (but not least important!) number on the NFRC label you’ll want to think about has to do with water, namely condensation.

Condensation Resistance: this number measures how well your window (or glass door or skylight) resists condensation.

And for anyone who needs a quick primer, condensation occurs when water forms little droplets.  (Anyone else having eighth-grade flashbacks?). Those little droplets can get stuck in your window.

When it comes to condensation resistance, the higher the number, the better.  If the condensation resistance measurement is high, it means that the window (or door or skylight) can resist all those little droplets from forming.

And the more your window can resist condensation?  The better your view when spying on the neighbors!  (Kidding. We actually have a really pretty flowering tree right outside our sliding door.  So this is a biggie for us to make sure we a get good view!)

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Bottom Line when Choosing Replacement Windows

I sincerely hope that sharing what we’ve learned when shopping for replacement windows has been helpful for you.  Before this journey, I really hadn’t known about the NFRC and didn’t pay too much attention to that label on windows.  But now that we’re in the market, I’m super thankful to have a watchdog on my side, and I hope that these numbers make a lot more sense to you.

Here’s the bottom line: I absolutely encourage you to do your OWN homework when it comes to making such a big purchase, whether that be for replacement windows, doors, or skylights.

When you choose the right products, you end up saving a ton of money in the long term (high five for energy efficiency!).  And the NFRC label really does make it easy to compare products and make informed decisions.

How to choose replacement windows!

To learn more about the National Fenestration Rating Council, you should definitely swing by the NFRC website by clicking right here.

Leave me a comment below — what’s your number one consideration when it comes to choosing replacement windows?  Since we still haven’t made a purchase I’d love to hear your thoughts too!  As always, lots of love, from my house to yours!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of National Fenestration Rating Council. The opinions and text are all mine.