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    If you haven't already heard, there've been some big advances lately in the design and manufacturing of windows, skylights and sliding glass doors. Now, besides the usual range of choice in size, shape and frame color, you also have a choice of performance ratings in energy-saving replacements.

    Windows, skylights and sliding glass doors are widely available but there are a few things you should know before you make a purchase. First, you should find out about all the different window glass or glazing options that you have. Second, you should learn about energy performance ratings and how to compare them. And last but not least, you should find the right installer, because if your new replacement windows or skylights aren't installed properly, you might have problems in the future with moisture control.

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Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Windows and Skylights

Find Out About Your Glass Options

Though window glass is a very important part of our lives, most of us don't know very much about it. For example, there are six different window glazing technologies that function in very different ways to create energy efficiency. Some manufacturers fill the space between glass panes with inert gases. Others put on heat-absorbing tints or reflective coatings. And still others use a special process that can filter out 40% to 70% of the heat while allowing the full amount of light to be transmitted.

Learn About Energy Performance Ratings

Considering that there are so many energy-efficient skylights, windows and doors to choose from, how do you select the ones that are right for you? One of the best ways is by looking at their energy performance ratings. ENERGY STAR® bases its qualifications on the U-factor and the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). The first one is easy - the lower the U-factor, the higher the energy efficiency. The second one depends on your needs. A high SHGC allows solar heat to enter your home, while a low SHGC blocks it.

Choose Your Frames Wisely

Compared to the glass section, frames are a much smaller part of the window. Yet they still need to be considered when it comes to heat conduction. Aluminum or metal frames are an attractive choice because they're usually very strong, light, and low maintenance. However, they're also the material that conducts heat most rapidly. For an energy-efficient window, choose frames made of vinyl, wood, fiberglass and other materials rather than metal for better thermal resistance.

Consider How Your Windows Operate

In most cases, you'll find that there are six different window types to choose from. Fixed windows don't open and, therefore, are of little concern when it comes to air leakage. Awning, casement and hopper types are the next best choice because the sash closes by pressing against the pane. But if you're thinking about installing sliding or double-hung windows, you might reconsider from an energy-efficiency point of view - because they have the highest air leakage rates of all.

Find the Right Installer

If you don't already have a contractor in mind, TXU Energy would be happy to recommend one. Just go to the Home Energy Professionals page to view a list of professionals that we've carefully selected because they provide a consistent level of quality in their products and services. Be sure to also ask them about any rebates that might be available