Last week, we started talking about the home that adds so many more tasks to your homeowner to-do list: your shore house. In particular, we explored the first steps to making a major, and majorly important, investment in your shore home: new windows. This week, we’ll talk about a few more specifics to be aware of when selecting the right windows for your home.

Windows & Energy Ratings

We started discussing the importance of energy ratings last week, and which authorities you can rely on to provide some assurance of a product’s energy efficiency claims. Those claims are dependent upon a couple of important factors we’d like to detail more specifically this week: U-factors and solar heat gain coefficient ratings (SHGC). These two measures combine to give you a clear sense of any window’s energy efficiency.

Here’s a simple way to understand the difference between these two measures: a window’s U-factor “looks at the rate of heat transfer and shows how well the window is insulated with respect to heat. If a U factor is low, meaning there is little heat transfer, the window has higher quality insulation. For Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, the measurement indicates how well the window blocks heat coming from the sun.  Like U factor,” the lower the rate of solar heat allowed in by the window, the higher the window performs.

The U-factor and SHGC best for your home will depend on your region. EnergyStar.gov has a helpful tool for finding out exactly what ratings you need; you just enter your state and county, and they do the rest! Here’s what you can expect from the results (we selected Sussex County, Delaware for this example):

Energy star qualifications

So remember: We usually associated higher ratings with better performing products, but in the case of U-factors and SHGC, less is more!

Impact-Resistant Windows

No one likes to think about impact resistance. It conjures visions of conditions that are exactly the opposite of those any shore homeowner looks forward to enjoying. But, storms happen. And if you aren’t considering impact resistance when buying new windows, you’re overlooking a crucial function!

What are impact-resistant windows? Here’s a helpful definition: “Impact-resistant glass generally consists of two laminated glass layers with an interlayer that helps stop flying debris. Even if the glass shatters in place, the laminated layers preserve the overall structural integrity of the window. An additional benefit of impact-resistant glass, as compared to hurricane shutters or traditional plywood barriers, is that impact-resistant glass is protection that’s built in, working for your home 24/7 without any intervention needed.” You might have guessed that impact-resistant windows are pricier than traditional ones. But, as you can see, their built-in benefits are considerable.

Design Pressure

While impact resistance will bring protection against debris during a storm, a window’s design pressure rating gives you an idea of how it will withstand another of mother nature’s least favorable elements  (for shore days, anyway): wind. The design pressure rating tells you how strong a window is by expressing how many pounds per square foot (PSFs) of air pressure the window can withstand without breaking. Design pressures are determined by stringent laboratory tests, and each municipality has strict requirements for window design pressures dependent upon the geography and weather patterns of the region. It should come as no surprise that design pressure ratings have to be considerably higher in coastal zones.

How can you ensure that the design pressure ratings for your windows are adequate” As the folks over at Feldco note, “National building codes now require window testing, and your location will have a required window design pressure rating. Your needs will vary based on your type of home, its size, and your location. Most municipalities have maps or easy to read charts that explain the requirements necessary to protect your home.

If you have the engineering drawings for your window, you can match your new window to the DP listed there. Just check the window’s DP label to be sure it matches up.” They continue, “Another way to learn your home’s required DP is to get some outside help. A local building department can be enlisted to help determine the DP needed. If you’re having a licensed company install your windows (which is always recommended) they’ll be able to verify your design pressure.”

Doing your homework is so important when it comes to any home improvement project, but it’s crucial when replacing windows because so many companies are ready to prey on uninformed consumers. If you’d like to talk more about the process, contact us!