Get that Federal Tax Credit on Replacement Windows Before it’s Too Late

Sep 09, 2011 No Comments by

With the Federal Tax Credit for energy efficient replacement windows set to expire at the end of 2011, there is never a better time than now to install government-approved Energy Star windows. When shopping for them, just be aware that even among windows that are Energy Star-rated, there are differences in performance.

The people who concern themselves with these issues are called The National Fenestration Rating Council. The roots of the NFRC can be traced back to the energy crisis of the 1970s (if you don’t know what “fenestration” means, you’re probably in the majority–it is defined as “the design and placing of windows in a building”).

Back then, when the country started worrying about energy consumption, the fenestration industry began developing energy efficient technologies. Unfortunately, after the fenestrators got done with this job, “energy efficient” became a buzzword (much like “low fat” in the 80s), and many disreputable manufacturers tried to jump onto the bandwagon with outrageous claims about their product’s capabilities.

As usual, a government investigation of the industry followed. But the fenestrators remained tough and staved off federal regulation. Instead, in 1989 they formed the NFRC in order to provide an independent evaluation process for products claiming to be energy efficient. And they have been doing that job ever since.

Every Energy Star windows now have labels on them from the NFRC that describe the features of the products from the standpoint of energy efficiency. You’ll see things like U-factors, Solar Heat Gain Coefficients (SHGCs) and Visible Light Transmittance (VT) as well as optional, Air Leakage (AL) and Condensation Resistance (CR) specifications.

To find out what each of these things actually mean, you can visit the Efficient Windows Collaborative web site at, a product of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Building Research, and one fine place for anyone who now knows what fenestration means.

Installation, Windows

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