There are many methods to calculate the heat gains from a glazing element. Typically the heat gains are divided into two components, the Conduction related to the U-value and the Radiation related to the SHGC. Dividing the heat gains in this fashion is helpful because it allows key characteristics of the glazing, U-value and SHGC, to be considered in regard to their impact on cooling loads.

Focusing on Conduction

Conduction gain or loss can be calculated in various methods with different degrees of detail. The simplest calculation method is to consider the u-value, area, indoor, and outdoor temperature as described by Equation 14, ASHRAE Handbook Fundamentals Chapter 18.

Q = U * A * (Tout - Tin)

This method accounts for the thermal transmittance of the element and the respective temperatures and is very helpful for hand calculations.

EnergyPlus uses the Heat Balance method for calculations, which covers four specific heat transfer processes in a building:

  1. Outdoor face heat balance

  2. Wall conduction process

  3. Indoor face heat balance

  4. Air heat balance

The Heat Balance method is defined in ASHRAE Handbook Fundamentals Chapter 18 and is a well established and widely used method for cooling load calculations. In EnergyPlus, the Heat Balance methodology is applied to windows or glazing elements. Currently windows in the calculation default to a single layer which represents the performance values. A brief summary of the input variables and equations is included at the end of this article. In addition, here are links to the full documentation of the Windows Module and Window Heat Balance Calculation.

Glazing Result Variables

EnergyPlus produces several output variables for every element of the model. This allows for powerful study of heat, energy, and radiation transfers throughout the building. Full documentation of the window outputs from EnergyPlus can be found here. For a window without interior shading the total heat flow is equal to:

  • Surface Window Transmitted Solar Radiation Rate

  • Convective heat flow to the zone from the zone side of the glazing

  • Net IR heat flow to the zone from zone side of the glazing

  • Short-wave radiation from zone transmitted back out the window

  • Convection to zone from window frame and divider, if present

A good way to think about this is the sum of the solar and conductive gain to the zone from the window.

Glazing conduction results are reported for Rooms, Zones, and Air Systems on the platform. Checkout more about the load modeling results here.

Glazing Heat Balance Equations

Summary of variables, equations, and diagram explaining location of the variables. Full description of the method can be found here.

Mathematical variable




Number of glass layers



Stefan-Boltzmann constant


Emissivity of face i



Conductance of glass layer i


ho, hi

Outside, inside air film convective conductance



Conductance of gap j


To, Ti

Outdoor and indoor air temperatures


Eo, Ei

Exterior, interior long-wave radiation incident on window



Temperature of face i



Radiation (short-wave, and long-wave from zone internal sources) absorbed by face i



Exterior beam normal solar irradiance



Exterior diffuse solar irradiance on glazing



Interior short-wave radiation (from lights and from reflected diffuse solar) incident on glazing from inside



Long-wave radiation from lights and equipment incident on glazing from inside



Angle of incidence



Front beam solar absorptance of glass layer j


Af,diffj, Ab,diffj

Front and back diffuse solar absorptance of glass layer j


A, B

Matrices used to solve glazing heat balance equations

W/m2, W/m2-K


Radiative conductance for face i



Difference in temperature of face i between successive iterations


Glazing system with two glass layers showing variables used in heat balance equations.

Glazing system with two glass layers showing variables used in heat balance equations. Source: EnergyPlus 22.2 Engineering Reference manual

The four equation used in the heat balance calculation are:

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