(HIT) – If you’re considering the purchase of new or replacement windows for your home, then you need to know about several important organizations, their certification programs and why they’re important to your window selection.

There are hundreds of local, regional and national window manufacturers. Your job, as a homeowner researching your window options, is to select the best-made window for your home that has been tested to certain standards and is backed by a strong warranty.

“For the most part, national top-name window manufacturers who have been dedicated to building windows for years are a smart choice for your window selection,” says Simonton ProNetwork Member John Wilding of FAS Windows and Doors in Florida. “These national companies, such as Simonton Windows, have a proven track record of dependability and will be available to support your long-term window needs.”

As you start window shopping, there are several key aspects to seek out — AAMA and NFRC Certification and ENERGY STAR® qualified products. Here’s a breakdown of each one.

AAMA’s Gold Label Certification
AAMA (which stands for “American Architectural Manufacturers Association”) involves accredited lab testing on windows and doors. These tests are performed by qualified, experienced third-party professionals using properly calibrated equipment.

Image of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association Certification Label for Simonton
Courtesy of Simonton Windows

In order to receive the AAMA Gold Label Certification (which is the highest certification available from the association), windows and doors must pass independent AAMA-accredited test lab requirements that meet these criteria:

  • Prescribed maximum level of air leakage through the assembled unit;
  • No water penetration through the unit at a specified simulated wind speed;
  • Prescribed levels of structural resistance to wind and other dynamic pressures;
  • Life cycle durability requirements as applicable based on the product’s performance class designation;
  • Component performance verification to AAMA specifications including operating force and forced entry resistance
  • Simonton Windows proudly adheres to AAMA Gold Standards when manufacturing its energy-efficient vinyl windows and doors.

Simonton controls the quality of the vinyl in its products by extruding its own vinyl compound at SimEx, Inc., a vinyl extrusion company affiliated with Simonton Windows. The vinyl pieces are part of the AAMA verified components required by the AAMA Gold Label Program.

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is a non-profit organization that administers an independent rating and labeling system for the energy performance of windows, doors and skylights. This program helps homeowners compare different products and make informed purchasing decisions.

The overwhelming majority of windows and doors manufactured have an NFRC label. This label will not tell you which window to purchase — but it can be a valuable tool (much like the miles-per-gallon sticker on a new car). The NFRC label provides:

  • Whole Product Ratings –The NFRC testing protocols involve testing of the full window, door or skylight — including glass, frame, spacers, and any other component — that is a permanent part of the complete product. This strategy provides you with a more accurate reflection of how the product will perform in the home than testing of just glass, as the framing and other components influence ratings such as U-factor, Solar Heat Gain, and Visible Transmittance.
  • Information You Can Trust – The NFRC Label is the only window label that provides certified energy-related performance ratings that are acquired through independent testing of the product.
  • A Way to Verify the Accuracy of the Label –The NFRC rating process provides you with a way to verify that the Certified Ratings provided on the NFRC Label are accurate via the Certified Products Directory (CPD) found at www.nfrc.org. The NFRC Label provides the manufacturer name, the type of window, as well as the Full CPD Number, making searching the database for the product a snap.
  • A Fair and Accurate Basis for Comparing Products – Ratings on the NFRC Label have been achieved through standardized simulation and test methods at independently operated laboratories. This standardized method allows you to compare Certified Ratings on the NFRC Label of Manufacturer “A” to those on the Certified Label of Manufacturer “B.” For more information on comparing products, see the NFRC The Shopping Guide and print out “Understanding the NFRC Label” to bring the information to the store with you.

Run by the United States government, the ENERGY STAR program qualifies a wide variety of home products — from computers to refrigerators to roofs — for energy efficiency.

For windows, doors and skylights, the ENERGY STAR program makes sure each product is independently certified to perform at levels that meet or exceed energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy. The experts at ENERGY STAR suggest the following tips to help you select the windows that work best in your climate:

Tip #1 – Visit www.energystar.gov to determine your home’s ENERGY STAR Climate Zone.

Tip #2 – Find a retailer or manufacturer of ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors or skylights at the ENERGY STAR website or by looking up information directly on a company’s website.

Tip #3 – Ask for ENERGY STAR qualified windows when placing your order. Whether you’re in a showroom or meeting with an individual window installer, make sure you request ENERGY STAR qualified products for your home.

Tip #4 – When your windows arrive, make sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label on each window. The label should state that the window is qualified for your specific climate zone area.

Tip #5 – Investigate any federal tax credits, local rebates or other promotions available in your area that you qualify for as a result of purchasing and installing energy-efficient ENERGY STAR windows.

For more free online tips and information on windows, visit the Window Replacement Guide at www.simonton.com.

About Simonton Windows
Simonton Windows has been ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Windows and Doors, Four Years in a Row. Tied in 2013.” by J.D. Power and Associates. Simonton produces ENERGY STAR® qualified vinyl replacement and new construction windows and doors, including a line of impact-resistant products.

Simonton was also ranked #1 in quality in the 2013, 2009, 2007, 2002 and 1998 Brand Use Studies sponsored by Builder magazine and has won three Best In Class Awards administered by LBM Journal Research Institute.

Founded in 1946, Simonton’s hallmark has been to deliver the industry’s shortest, most dependable lead-times. Part of Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. (NYSE: FBHS), Simonton delivers award-recognized products throughout the United States and North America. Simonton is a Founding Sponsor of The Weather Museum, a Lifetime Founding Sponsor of the Lead Safe America Foundation, and a supporter of Homes for Our Troops. For information, call (800) SIMONTON (1-800-746-6686) or visit www.simonton.com.

Simonton Windows received the highest numerical score among window and door manufacturers in a tie in the proprietary J.D. Power and Associates 2010-2013 Windows and Patio Doors Satisfaction StudiesSM. (Tied in 2013).  2013 study based on responses from more than 2,554 consumers measuring 11 brands and measures opinions of consumers who purchased new windows or patio doors in the previous 12 months. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of consumers surveyed in January – February 2013. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.

ENERGY STAR is a government program that helps consumers protect the environment through superior energy efficiency and is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center