New Windows: How to Choose a Manufacturer

When you are buying new windows, how do you decide between the major window manufacturers? When you review what each company has available, you will undoubtedly find so many similarities that it is often confusing to choose the best brand.

New Windows

Resources to Guide Your Decision about New Windows

To help you decide about new windows, you have four resources:

  • What the window company says about the product. Whether you select Pella, Andersen, Jen Weld, or another window manufacturer, the company lists the features of a particular model of window and suggests where best to use it.
  • What the Department of Energy says about the efficiency. Windows must bear stickers from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) that show energy efficiency in order to be part of to be part of the voluntary Energy Star program. The first two factors listed below are most important for Energy Star qualification, but the others are important as well:
    • U-Factor: Measures a window unit’s resistance to heat loss
    • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): Measures how much heat enters a home through the glass
    • Visible Transmittance (VT): Measures the potential for natural light and visibility
    • Air Leakage (AL): measures the effectiveness for keeping air out

You should buy windows with metrics that suit your climate. Windows with low U-factors, which have a range of 0.20 to 1.20, are better insulators are better in colder climates and work better in warmer, sunnier climates, while those with low SHGV (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) block more heat of the sun. While not listed on the NFRC sticker, you want a window with the insulating properties of Low E (low emission) coordinates.

  • What review sites say about the brand. Online review sites such as Yelp offer customers perspective on the best windows, while Consumers’ Reports combines customer rating with their own research. CR test Windows for their performance in cold, rainy, and warm climates and makes recommendations for what they consider a Best Buy. Their top window ratings may only vary by a few points, but often they make suggestions of what is the best value for the money.
  • What contractor see based on their experience. Some contractors might specialize in installing specific brand and have a preference for installing them. They might base their comments on their experience with using other systems in the past, which makes their insights valuable.

Making Your Decision

As a consumer, you should take features, price, energy ratings, consumer ratings, and contractor insights into the mix for making your decision. The cheapest window is not always the best, but windows that have the proper metrics are likely to do a reasonable job insulating your home. What often makes the difference between the effectiveness of windows is the installation. Make sure to check contractor references, as well as look at the online review sites such as Angie’s List or Yelp that consider contractor performance.

When choosing new windows, contact Rocky Mountain Windows and Doors for a free consultation and the best product availability and installation.