The energy performance of all ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors, and skylights must be independently tested and certified according to test procedures established by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). The NFRC energy performance label can help you determine how well a product will perform the functions of helping to cool your building in the summer, warm your building in the winter, keep out wind, and resist condensation. By using the information contained on the label, builders and consumers can reliably compare one product with another, and make informed decisions about the windows, doors, and skylights they buy. NFRC is a third-party non-profit organization that sponsors certified rating and labeling to help consumers compare the performance of windows, doors, and skylights. NFRC does not distinguish between “good” and “bad” windows, set minimum performance standards, or mandate performance levels. ENERGY STAR qualification is based on U-factor and SHGC ratings only.
From the NFRC site the various ratings are:
U-factor measures how well a product prevents heat from escaping. The rate of heat loss is indicated in terms of the U-factor (U-value) of a window assembly. U-Factor ratings generally fall between 0.20 and 1.20. The lower the U-value, the greater a window’s resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating value.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) measures how well a product blocks heat caused by sunlight. The SHGC is the fraction of incident solar radiation admitted through a window (both directly transmitted and absorbed) and subsequently released inward. SHGC is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The lower a window’s solar heat gain coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits in the house.
Visible Transmittance (VT) measures how much light comes through a product. The visible transmittance is an optical property that indicates the amount of visible light transmitted. VT is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The higher the VT, the more light is transmitted.
Air Leakage (AL) is indicated by an air leakage rating expressed as the equivalent cubic feet of air passing through a square foot of window area (cfm/sq ft). Heat loss and gain occur by infiltration through cracks in the window assembly. The lower the AL, the less air will pass through cracks in the window assembly.
Condensation Resistance (CR) measures the ability of a product to resist the formation of condensation on the interior surface of that product. The higher the CR rating, the better that product is at resisting condensation formation. While this rating cannot predict condensation, it can provide a credible method of comparing the potential of various products for condensation formation. CR is expressed as a number between 1 and 100.