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ENERGY STAR Windows and Doors: What Are They and Why Are They Important?

April 23rd, 2020, 11:10 AM

If you're like 90 percent of Americans, you're familiar with the ENERGY STAR label. If you're like 75 percent of Americans, the ENERGY STAR label influences your purchasing decisions. But what is ENERGY STAR and why is it so important? Today we'll delve into the history of the now-ubiquitous badge of energy efficiency and the criteria windows and doors must meet to earn it.

The history of ENERGY STAR

ENERGY STAR is an initiative of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify products that meet government standards for energy efficiency, part of a coordinated effort to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When the ENERGY STAR voluntary labeling program was first introduced in 1992, it only applied to computers and monitors, but since then it has come to encompass some 70,000 products across 75 residential and commercial categories (as of 2019). Of those, only about 3,000 (4 percent) garnered the ENERGY STAR "Most Efficient" designation for exemplary performance.

Throughout its history, ENERGY STAR has implemented a number of programs and resources to assist homebuilders, homeowners, and residential contractors — for both new construction and existing structures. ENERGY STAR new constructions in the single-family, multi-family, and manufactured home categories, on average, exceed building code standards for energy efficiency by 20 percent. 

For current homeowners looking to improve their energy efficiency, check out the following:

How windows and doors earn good ENERGY STAR ratings

For a window or door to even be considered for the ENERGY STAR label, it must:

  1. Come from a certified ENERGY STAR partner manufacturer
  2. Pass the National Fenestration Rating Council's (NFRC) testing, certification, and verification process.
  3. Return from the NFRC with ratings that meet guidelines established by the EPA.

NFRC ratings include:

  1. U-Factor, a measure of insulation proficiency. Lower numbers mean less heat is being transferred between the inside and outside of the glazing, making it easier for your home to maintain a desirable temperature. Min: 0.20, Max: 1.20

  2. SHGC, meaning solar heat gain coefficient — this is the fraction of solar radiation the window allows to penetrate the glazing. In warmer climates, you'll want this number to be lower. In colder climates, it's okay if it's a little higher. Min: 0, Max: 1

  3. Visible transmittance, or how much of the visible spectrum of natural light admitted through the window. Higher numbers mean you won't have to spend as much on artificial lighting. Min: 0, Max: 1

  4. Air leakage through a window is a major energy waster, so seek out a product that is as airtight as possible. Min: 0.1, Max: 0.3

window solar heat gain coefficient

Optimal ENERGY STAR window ratings vary slightly by climate, especially in regard to SHGC. Hodges Windows and Doors services Northern Virginia and the D.C. Metro Area, which both fall within the NFRC's North-Central Climate Zone. Here, windows should have a U-Factor less than or equal to 0.30 and a SHGC less than or equal to 0.40. 

Doors are evaluated according to their glazing level, or the percentage of total surface area that is glass. Opaque doors (no glass) should have a U-Factor less than or equal to 0.017, doors that are less than half glass should have a U-Factor and SHGC both less than or equal to 0.25, and doors that are more than half glass should follow the same climate-prescribed ranges as windows.

ENERGY STAR products that save the environment and save you money

All Hodges Windows and Doors suppliers are ENERGY STAR darlings, consistently rating high for energy-saving window features such as non-conductive framing materials, multiple panes with low-emissivity coatings, and non-reactive gas fills to maximize efficiency. This year we are especially proud to be associated with ProVia, winner of the 2020 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year - Sustained Excellence Award. Thanks to ProVia and ENERGY STAR's thousands of other partners, American families and businesses have saved more than 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 3.5 million metric tons since 1992. 

These are savings that benefit both our bank accounts and our planet.


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The deck door is fabulous and the installation is super!!! I love how wide it is, and how easily it opens and it actually locks! thank you for the expert product and installation.

Kevin J.
Springfield, Virginia
Door Installation

The installer, who I think was Tom Langworthy, did excellent work. He was respectful of our space and cleaned up after himself. He always conducted himself in a professional manner. He seems highly competent and he engenders confidence in his workmanship.

James B.
Washington, DC
Window Installation

Throughout the entire process - from our first meeting to the on-going daily supervision - by you of the job, the professionalism, the quality of the products, and the workmanship was outstanding.

David & Rosemary P
Vienna, Virginia
Window and Door Installation

Everything was excellent. The salesman offered good advice and provided examples of how the end result would look. Hodges' workers arrived on time and worked quickly. The lead installer was quite knowledgeable as well, so the job was done neatly and without incident.

James G.
Vienna, Virginia
Window and Door Installation

I just wanted to express my appreciation to the team your company sent to install a few doors and repair windows in our house. They were professional, caring, cooperative and extremely courteous. They are a major asset to your company. On the whole, our experience with the Hodges Company has been very positive and we happily recommend your services to others.

Mary V.
Bethesda, Maryland
Door Installation and Window Repair

We will definitely be using Hodges again when we look to replace some windows in our house

Daniel Q.
Woodbridge, VA
Door Installation

Tom is definitely a master craftsman and did an excellent job. Just want you and the company to know that both Tom and Larry did an outstanding job and we are very pleased with the results.

Dave H.
Arlington, VA
Window Installation

Your craftsmanship made all the difference, and it was nice getting to know you. We hope to hire you again.

Nany & Harry B.
Chevy Chase, MD
Windows and Door Installation

I want you to know that your two colleagues who installed the windows did an outstanding job...Jean and I could not be more pleased.

Ted B.
Washington, D.C.
Window Installation

I must tell you that Mark Russow and everyone at The Hodges Window Company are nothing less than a great representative/distributor for your company and we will not hesitate to recommend both companies to our friends and family.

Debbie P.
Manassas, VA
Window and Door Installation

Thank you so much for fixing my window today! Thank you for coming even though these windows aren't yours......No wonder the management office here thinks you guys can do anything and are the most helpful window company around.

Kim T.
McLean, Virginia
Window Repair

We are so very, very happy (once again!) with the Hodges Company....this is the third time we have had a project completed, and each time we've been so pleased.

Valerie Soroka
Arlington, VA
Door Installation

I think they did a very good job. I will go back to them in a heartbeat.

Karen L.
Arlington, VA
Window and Door Replacement

Your guys did a great job. The temperature in the house is up by 3 degrees and the heat pump is running half as much.

Larry C.
Gainesville, Virginia
Window Installation

I am so pleased with my windows, your installers and staff. I would indeed recommend your company to anyone and everyone. They were quick, efficient and very polite.

Betty L.
Fairfax, VA
Window Installation

Before, we could never keep up with the cold. Now we just turn the heat on, and it stays in the building. Complaints are way down, and we're very happy.

Rev. Davies K.
Falls Church, Virginia
Window Installation

All in all a really fantastic company - they've been in business a long time and it shows based on how they treat the costumer. Am planning to do windows next year, and they will be my first phone call.

Ian W.
North Potomac, MD
Door Installation

We enjoyed meeting with Brian Whitehouse and were impressed with his ability to explain our options, always respecting our wishes and never annoying us with hard-sell tactics...It was such a pleasure to deal with people who know their job and do it well.

Sara R.
Falls Church, Virginia
Window and Door Installation

Hodges had very knowledge salespeople, highly skilled installation crews, and the product lives up to expectations. You can't ask for better than that.

Richard N.
Ashburn Village, Virginia
Door Installation

We love our new door. The installation work was timely, quick and well-done.

Mary Ann M.
Arlington, VA
Door Installation

I wouldn't deal with anyone else. Working with Hodges, I know I can get anything I want, and my imagination can run wild.

Arlington, Virginia
Window and Door Installation

I couldn't be more pleased with both my windows and the installation and now "on a clear day I can see forever". If you would like to use me as a reference I would be more than happy to cooperate.

Elizabeth H.
Arlington, Virginia
Window Installation

The whole process from initial meeting to installation was painless and quite surprisingly, a lot less expensive than we thought it would be... Thanks again for taking such good care of us. If anyone I know is looking for new windows, I will certainly recommend your company.

Carol B.
McLean, Virginia
New Window Installation