NREL Researchers Developing Enhanced Methods for Evaluating Window Energy Performance Lifespan | News

window energy efficiency

New windows are a significant investment, but unlike some home improvement projects, they come with an incentive: increased efficiency and cost savings over time from lower energy bills.

The energy savings and carbon emission reductions promised by energy efficient technologies such as advanced windows are only achieved if these new products maintain high performance over the long term. Some of the most important questions for consumers making such a purchase are: How long will the associated energy savings last? Will they change over time? For manufacturers, being able to demonstrate long-term performance potential is an important differentiator for their product in the marketplace.

Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the University of Colorado Boulder, and WinBuild Inc. recently published a technical report proposing new methods for evaluating how long windows maintain their energy performance.

“This test method is designed to focus on window energy performance more explicitly than current methods,” said Robert C. Tenent, a materials science researcher at NREL. We want to know that when consumers trust high-performance windows, the technologies will deliver on their promise. This also helps manufacturers gain confidence to bring more advanced efficiency products to market.”

In the report “Guidelines and Specifications for Evaluating the Enhanced Durability of Insulating Glass and Vacuum Insulating Glass Units,” the researchers outlined a proposed process flow for the adoption of enhanced durability testing. The evaluation methods were developed by examining current testing standards, as well as methods that are used internationally and in private industry.

Improved methods include adding optical properties and thermal conductivity as performance metrics after weathering cycles, increasing the number of thermal cycles in the weathering process, and taking a deeper look at moisture wicking so that manufacturers have more information on how to improve performance.

The report is intended to serve as a starting point and guide for manufacturers, glass companies, window testing facilities and other interested parties in an enhanced assessment of the durability of insulating glass units for their products. The work supports and complements existing test methods rather than replacing them. The report is also intended to be a living document, and more data and information will be added based on the results of NREL’s investigation, as well as other sources that may add more detail on how to improve the durability assessment.

The hope is that the new durability evaluation methods will be adopted by manufacturers and others in the window industry. NREL researchers are also available to assist organizations interested in enhanced testing procedures with implementation.

“This is where we are starting,” Tenent said. “We will improve the method described in the report as we and our partners learn more. This could provide a vehicle for those who want to show that they went further and tested the durability of the product with a more stringent protocol.”

NREL and the US Department of Energy are currently collecting comments on this technical report. Feedback can be provided using this form until December 16, 2022.

Learn more about Windows research at NREL.

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