What is the National Fenestration Rating Council and What Do They Do?
As homeowners or renovators, it’s important to be aware of rating systems and organizations which protect consumers by not only providing education, but also by raising industry standards for products and services.
One of them is the National Fenestration Rating Council. What’s the National Fenestration Rating Council and what do they do?
What is Fenestration?
The word “fenestration” is derived from “fenestra”, a Latin word which means “opening”. Fenestration is a term which refers to the “openings” of your home: doors, windows, skylights.
Because savvy and environmentally conscious consumers deserve to be informed about the energy performance of these crucial components, the National Fenestration Rating Council was founded.
This nonprofit organization works to establish an objective rating system for the energy-efficiency of your doors and windows, so you can make a purchase you feel good about.
History of the National Fenestration Rating Council
During the 1980s, energy was starting to become a big topic. Since doors and windows were a pretty big source of energy usage, compensating for loss of heat in buildings made up 25% of spending on heat in the United States, the government began to put pressure on both manufacturers and fenestration experts to address these concerns.
Manufacturers began to engineer new technologies such as special coatings to improve efficiency, but there were no consistent testing and rating procedures, or any way to control the advertised claims of performance.
In June 1989, about 25 leaders in the fenestration industry came together to establish an organization providing an energy rating system that was objective, thorough, and uniform. That day, the leaders voted unanimously to form the National Fenestration Rating Council
Why is Energy Efficiency Such a Big Deal?
Are energy efficient door and window products really that big of a deal that we need a council to regulate them?
Avoid High Utility Bills
Windows are notoriously hard to insulate, as they let light, sound and visuals pass through. They’re also easily affected by temperatures, wind and solar radiation.
People in the United States spend millions each year on heating, but what if energy efficient window and door products could reduce the amount of money wasted on losing heat? The NFRC rates and labels products that reduce heat loss and subsequent high utility bills, so you can try to track your savings.
Decrease UV Radiation in Your Home
You can’t see UV radiation with your naked eye, but it’s coming in through your window. Standard single-pane windows only reflect approximately 25% of these harmful rays, while some coated and laminated products can block 74-99%.
With NFRC rating and labeling, you can feel assured of which products are able to most efficiently reduce the levels of UV radiation entering your home.
Avoid Fading Your Interiors
Solar radiation through windows plays a big part in the fading and breakdown of your interior design. Whether it’s flooring, rugs, curtains or furniture, anything exposed to these rays all day long through the window can soon develop unsightly faded patches.
Blackout curtains and shutters may be a quick fix, but negate the light-filtering qualities that make windows so important. With proper labeling, you can choose windows which allow in natural light without high levels of solar radiation.
How to Tell if Your Windows Are NFRC-Rated
Now you know that the NFRC independently rates and labels products such as windows, doors, and skylights – but how do you make sure yours have been rated?
The NFRC 700: Product Certification Program ensures that manufacturers properly label each product in order to stay compliant. This means that whether you purchase one of these products from an online, local retailer or contractor brings them to your site, the NFRC rating label should be located in an easy to find spot on the product.
How to Read the NFRC Label
Great, we know where to find the NFRC label. Now, how do we know what it’s telling us? There are four sections on the label, which should describe the ratings. The “u-factor” is how much heat can escape from inside the room.
You should be looking for the lowest possible number. The “visible transmittance” is the amount of natural light admitted into a room. For a higher amount of natural light, look for a high number.
The “solar heat gain coefficient” refers to how much outdoor heat can come indoors. You should look for the lowest number. “air leakage” measures draftiness, so look for a low number.
Tips on Buying Energy Efficient Windows
There are so many choices out there when it comes to windows, glass panes, skylights and other fenestration products. The National Fenestration Rating Council has made the shopping process a little easier for those who want to make sure they’re getting something energy-efficient.
First, be sure you can read the NFRC label on the product, and evaluate it according to the sections listed above – u-factor, solar heat gain, visible transmittance, and air leakage.
Next, look for the “Energy Star” label developed by the U.S. Department of Energy. Energy Star labeled products meet particular performance criteria when it comes to energy efficiency.
After evaluating your potential purchase for these criteria, next you’ll want to consider leak-resistant, wind-load, security, and sound transmission factors. Determine how high on your priority list these criteria rank, and finally, consider your budget against the product cost.
Where to Purchase Energy-Efficient Windows
Energy-efficient windows and doors are in demand, so most manufacturers offer them. Whether you purchase directly from a manufacturer, contractor or local retailer, you should be able to see a good selection before you choose one – and have the ability to read the NFRC and Energy Star labels for comparison. You can even read product ratings on the NFRC website prior to shopping.
The National Fenestration Rating Council has made your job a little easier when it comes to reviewing, comparing and selecting energy-efficient windows. Now you can choose one that fits all of your needs, and keeps your utility bills manageable too.
Trust Feldco to replace your old windows with our energy efficient, insulated and custom-made windows. You’ll be able to create the look for your home with windows that best match your needs and style. Speak to a product specialist today – get a free quote now.