Check performance ratings if buying new windows

Check performance ratings if buying new windows

"I recently moved to a home where the front windows face southwest. There are no shade trees in the front yard, so I'm expecting the front rooms to get hot this summer. I plan on replacing the glass but I'm getting conflicting advice. Should I get low-E glass and rely on it to block infrared heat waves, or get clear glass and have an infrared-reflective film applied? Which will give me the best results?" — Angie's List member Roger Linville

According to John Nelson, owner of highly rated window replacement company Austin Retrofit, replacing the entire window is your best bet.

"Replacing the window will give you the best efficiency because you're also replacing the frame's weatherstrip and seal," he says. He adds that new energy-efficient windows cost from about $300 to $1,000.

If you're in the market for new windows, look for two performance indicators: the U-factor and the solar heat gain co-efficient. The U-factor indicates a window's overall insulating value; the solar heat gain co-efficient measures how well a window deflects incoming solar heat. An efficient window should be rated at 0.30 or below in both measurements.

New windows may also qualify for a federal energy-efficiency tax credit of 30 percent and up to $1,500 of a certified product's cost, not including labor or installation. For more information, visit

However, if you're looking for a less costly option, consider solar reflective film, says Russell Haertl, owner of highly rated residential solar film installer Sun Tint in Austin. "At $8 to $10 a square foot, installing an infrared-reflecting film is a great alternative to more expensive window options," he says.

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