Xiaohui Zhou, Ph.D., P.E.
Program Manager

Building energy efficiency program manager.

  • over 17 years work & research experience in commercial building HVAC systems & building controls
  • experience as design engineer, application engineer, researcher & team leader
  • involved in ASHRAE at local & national levels
  • member of ASHRAE Technical Committee TC 1.4 Control Theory &Application, TC 1.5 Computer Applications, & TC 7.5 Smart Building Systems

What energy standards/quality should we look for when buying replacement windows?

Replacing old windows with energy efficient windows will make an impact on both your utility bills and on occupants’ comfort.  Valuable information can be found on the DOE website http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-performance-ratings-windows-doors-and-skylights .

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.

Heat Gain and Loss:

•U-factor is 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. NFRC U-factor ratings, however, 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)
is the 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 during the winter. A product with a low SHGC rating is more effective at reducing cooling loads during the summer by blocking heat gain from the sun. Your home’s climate, orientation, and external shading will determine the optimal SHGC for a particular window, door, or skylight. For more information about SHGC and windows, see passive solar window design.

•Air leakage is the rate of air movement 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.

Sunlight Transmittance:

•Visible transmittance (VT) is a fraction of the visible spectrum of sunlight, weighted by the sensitivity of the human eye, that is transmitted through the glazing of a window, door, or skylight. 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.

•Light-to-solar gain (LSG)is 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.

For more information about NFRC window ratings, please visit http://www.nfrc.org/WindowRatings/ and http://www.nfrc.org/WindowRatings/Energy-Ratings.html .”