State-of-the-Art Software for Window Energy-Efficiency Rating and Labeling
Measuring the thermal performance of windows in typical residential buildings is an expensive proposition. Not only is laboratory testing expensive, but each window manufacturer typically offers hundreds of individual products, each of which has different thermal performance properties. With over a thousand window manufacturers nationally, a testing-based rating system would be prohibitively expensive to the industry and to consumers.
Beginning in the early 1990s, simulation software began to be used as part of a national program for rating window U-values. The rating program has since been expanded to include Solar Hear Gain Coefficients and is now being extended to annual energy performance.
This paper describes four software packages available to the public from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). These software packages are used to evaluate window thermal performance: RESFEN (for evaluating annual energy costs), WINDOW (for calculating a products thermal performance properties), THERM (a preprocessor for WINDOW that determines two-dimensional heat-transfer effects), and Optics (a preprocessor for WINDOWs glass database).
Software not only offers a less expensive means than testing to evaluate window performance, it can also be used during the design process to help manufacturers produce windows that will meet target specifications. In addition, software can show small improvements in window performance that might not be detected in actual testing because of large uncertainties in test procedures.