July 08, 2019


When buying windows for new construction, there are a lot of questions and factors to consider. Energy efficiency, design and durability are among the many questions we receive when it comes to what to look for when buying new windows.

The best windows are customized to work with a new build’s design, but when speaking to clients, make sure they ask the right questions so that the windows they choose meet their expectations and help them enjoy their build for years to come.

We’ve assembled our top ten things your client might not know about windows—but probably should—to help you with your next client conversation.

The Jargon


The National Fenestration Rating Council is responsible for a number of energy rating programs related to windows in the United States. According to the NFRC, the average American household spends $1,500-$2,500 each year on energy bills and nearly half of that is heating and cooling.

The NFRC certifies windows, doors and skylights in the United States for a number of energy and performance-related criteria, some of which are listed below.



2. U-value

When looking for energy-efficient windows, one of the key things to look at is the U-value. U-value refers to a window’s ability to keep heat inside and is the inverse of the R-Value.


Next to U-value, many labels on new windows also refer to the SHGC or solar heat gain coefficient. This value is especially important in warmer climates. Essentially, SHGC refers to a window’s ability to block out additional heat from the sun.

While this may not seem as important in northern areas, for buildings in the southern U.S., where daytime summer temperatures can get into the hundreds, having a low SHGC—meaning the windows block more solar heat—can be an important feature in order to keep energy costs related to air conditioning down.


ENERGY STAR® isn’t an NFRC program, but it’s probably recognizable to many consumers since everything from windows to lightbulbs to dishwashers seems to have an ENERGY STAR rating these days. What’s important for buyers to know is that ENERGY STAR ratings can’t be universally applied and are set by climate area. Make sure customers know which are applicable to their region.

5. R-value

Windows play a critical role in keeping indoor temperatures steady, so it’s not surprising that windows have R-values, just like insulation. A single pane window has an R-value of 1, while a two-pane, Low-E window filled with an inert gas like argon can have an R-value as high as 4. Triple pane windows can have R-values up to 7, which is as high as many commercial insulations. The R-value is the inverse of the U-value. As the R-value goes up, the U-value goes down.



How Long Will Your Windows Last?

6. Not All Warranties Are Created Equal

A good window should last for decades, and you want to make sure you pick a quality option from a manufacturer who stands behind their product. While you hope a homeowner will never need to make a claim on their warranty, make sure, when choosing windows for new construction, you understand what’s covered and for how long so you can communicate it to your client.

Not all parts of a window will necessarily be covered for the same amount of time. So ask about the glass, the seals and the frames. If the casing warps or sags, is that covered? If condensation starts gathering between the glass panes, will the manufacturer replace it? And don’t forget to get your contractor’s installation warranty in writing.

Which Windows Should You Pick?

7. Double- or Triple-Pane: Is There a Difference?

In short, yes. While double pane windows have been the standard for decades, more and more customers are choosing triple-pane windows because they boast a variety of advantages including:

  • Higher R-values
  • Lower energy costs
  • Better sound insulation

This last advantage, in particular, is one that many people don’t immediately consider. With so much focus on energy efficiency and cost savings, it’s easy to forget that windows often play a major role in insulating a home from neighborhood noise. For homeowners in busy urban areas, triple pane windows provide extra sound insulation to help them enjoy their home.

8. Which Frames Should You Choose?

Not all window frames are created equal. Wood frames still offer a classic traditional look, and wood remains a relatively effective insulator, but wood frames also need more maintenance and are prone to warping and sagging when faced with the elements.

By comparison, aluminum frames offer long-lasting, low maintenance solutions that are often less expensive or similarly priced to wood frames. When looking at windows, consider some of these questions:

  • What colors are available?
  • Can frames be painted to match other features?
  • Are frame colors fade-resistant?

When you meet with an MINIMAL Glass + Door representative, they’ll be able to help you find a frame that works with your design and the amount of work the homeowner is willing to do to maintain their frames.



9. Windows Aren’t Just Windows

Windows aren’t just a means to check the weather. They’re a key part of showing off a home’s design. Whether it’s providing natural light to highlight a feature wall or sliding panels to open up a kitchen and bring the outdoors inside, windows, window walls and sliding doors are an amazing way to bring unique design features to a home.

When To Buy

10. When Is the Best Time for Buying New Windows?

Windows can be bought and installed at any time during the year. While common wisdom might say that it’s best to wait for the summer, it’s not impossible to install windows during the cooler months too. What is important, though, is to choose a professional who knows how to install windows in a way that will allow for expansion of the frame and casing as the seasons turn.

For more inspiration, or to discuss your design ideas with a professional MINIMAL Glass + Door representative, visit our website.


Learn more about our outstanding service process.

When You Buy


View our project gallery to see our elegant designs for contemporary homes.