5 Secrets To Choosing The Best Windows For Your Home

5 Secrets To Choosing The Best Windows For Your Home

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If you're considering the purchase of new or replacement windows for your home, then you need to know about several prominent organizations, their certification programs and why they're essential to your window selection.

There are hundreds of local, regional and national window manufacturers. Your job, as a homeowner researching your window options, is to select the best-made window for your home that has been tested to particular standards and is backed by a strong warranty.

“For the most part, national top-name window manufacturers who have been dedicated to building windows for years are a smart choice for your window selection,” says John Wilding of FAS Windows and Doors in Florida. “National window companies have a proven track record of dependability and will be available to support your long-term window needs.”

As you start window shopping, there are several key aspects to seek out --- AAMA and NFRC Certification and ENERGY STAR qualified products. Here’s a breakdown of each one.

AAMA’s Gold Label Certification

AAMA (which stands for “American Architectural Manufacturers Association”) involves accredited lab testing on windows and doors. These tests are performed by qualified, experienced third-party professionals using properly calibrated equipment.

AAMA Certification Labels

To receive the AAMA Gold Label Certification (which is the highest certification available from the association), windows and doors must pass independent AAMA-accredited test lab requirements that meet these criteria:

  • Prescribed maximum level of air leakage through the assembled unit;
  • No water penetration through the unit at a specified simulated wind speed;
  • Prescribed levels of structural resistance to wind and other dynamic pressures;
  • Life cycle durability requirements as applicable based on the product’s performance class designation;
  • Component performance verification to AAMA specifications including operating force and forced entry resistance


The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is a non-profit organization that administers an independent rating and labeling system for the energy performance of windows, doors and skylights. This program helps homeowners compare different products and make informed purchasing decisions.

The overwhelming majority of windows and doors manufactured have an NFRC label. This label will not tell you which window to purchase – but it 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, door or skylight --- 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.

Information you can trust. The NFRC Label is the only window label that provides certified energy-related performance ratings that are acquired through independent testing of the product.

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) found at www.nfrc.org. The NFRC Label supplies 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 simulation and 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 more information on comparing products, see the NFRC The Shopping Guide and print out "Understanding the NFRC Label" to bring the information to the store with you.

ENERGY STAR program top 5 tips for choosing windows

Run by the United States government, the ENERGY STAR program qualifies a wide variety of home products --- from computers to refrigerators to roofs --- for energy efficiency.


For windows, doors and skylights, the ENERGY STAR program makes sure each product is independently certified to perform at levels that meet or exceed energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy. The experts at ENERGY STAR suggest the following tips to help you select the windows that work best in your climate:

Tip #1. Visit www.energystar.gov to determine your home’s ENERGY STAR Climate Zone.

Tip #2. Find a retailer or manufacturer of ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors or skylights at the ENERGY STAR website or by looking up information directly on a company’s website.

Tip #3. Ask for ENERGY STAR qualified windows when placing your order. Whether you’re in a showroom or meeting with an individual window installer, make sure you request ENERGY STAR qualified products for your home.

Tip #4. When your windows arrive, make sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label on each window. The label should state that the window is qualified for your specific climate zone area.

Tip #5. Investigate any federal tax credits, local rebates or other promotions available in your area that you qualify for as a result of purchasing and installing energy-efficient ENERGY STAR windows.

Read more about energy-saving windows.



Topics: Certification / LEED, Energy Audits, Energy Star, Rebates / Tax Credits, Remodeling, Thermal Envelope, Windows

Companies: U.S. Department of Energy

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