Ever heard the saying “it’s like throwing money out the window”? Well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if your home is lacking energy efficient windows and doors, then you are literally throwing money out the window.
In fact, over 40% of a home’s heating and cooling energy can be lost through windows and doors. With our cold winters and hot summers in Simcoe County (like most of Ontario), this can mean that a lot of money is slipping out of your windows and doors. This is also not doing the environment any favours– more energy wasted is a drain on our planet’s resources, not to mention your wallet..
But how do you choose the right windows and doors for your home? This is where the ENERGY STAR® program comes in.
What is the ENERGY STAR® certification?
If you see a product, home, building or facility with the ENERGY STAR® symbol, it means that it is certified as meeting or exceeding energy efficiency specifications through strict guidelines set by the Canadian government. The symbol is a trusted mark not only in Canada, but internationally and began in 1992.
Today, ENERGY STAR® Canada is administered by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), but it’s the more than 1,000 manufacturers, retailers, utility companies, dealers and other product stakeholders that have brought it to life. This highly successful industry-government partnership has transformed the way Canadians use energy. To meet the qualifications, manufacturers send products for compliance testing to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The test results are then used to calculate the energy efficiency of the products, such as windows, doors, and patio doors.
How do ENERGY STAR® ratings work?
Energy efficient ratings are based on the heating degree day value (HDD), which is the average annual temperature indicator. An HDD is the annual sum of the degrees of the average daily temperature for all days below 18 °C. The higher the HDD value, the colder the location. These ratings then correlate with the energy efficiency of the product as well as the climate zone for the product.
What are the ENERGY STAR® climate zones?
In Canada, there are currently three climate zones. It’s important to know your zone and then ask for products that meet the needs of the zone. It will be clearly displayed on the label of the product. If you live in Barrie or southern Ontario, it’s likely going to be zone 2. This handy postal code tool will show exactly which zone you’re in.
Many windows, doors and skylights are certified for more than one zone, and with the unpredictable temperatures and high winds in the Barrie and Simcoe County area, you may save even more on energy costs by buying a product certified for a colder zone.
However, if you buy a window rated for a zone that is warmer than the zone you live in, you may discover that the window does not insulate as well as you expect.
What makes windows and doors energy efficient?
Making a window or door that is energy efficient involves more than just a pane of glass and strong seal. It can get rather technical, but it’s those technical details that will help you save on energy costs. These include:
- U-Factor: U-Factor is the rating given to a window based on how much heat loss it allows. The lower the U-Factor, the slower the transfer of heat from a warm area to a cold area. This is the inverse of an R-value, which is commonly used with other construction materials to measure the insulation value. These values do not consider any heat that is gained from the sun through the window glass.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): The solar heat gain coefficient is a measure of the solar heat gained through a pane of glass. It ranges from 0 to 100, with 100 having the most solar gain.
- Energy Rating (ER): An energy rating balances a product’s U-Factor with its solar heat gain and airtightness. Ranging from 0 to 50, a higher energy rating indicates a more energy-efficient product.
- Visible Transmittance (VT): Ranging from 0 to 100, visual transmittance measures the amount of visible light that can pass through the product. A higher value means more light will pass through.
- Air tightness and other standards: Products are tested with standards that measure air tightness, watertightness, and strength.
- Low-E glass: Low-E glass has a microscopically thin, transparent coating that reflects long-wave infrared energy (or heat). Some low-e’s also reflect significant amounts of short-wave solar infrared energy. When the interior heat energy tries to escape to the colder outside during the winter, the low-e coating reflects the heat back to the inside, reducing the radiant heat loss through the glass.
- Argon gas infill: Argon gas is used to increase the energy efficiency and general performance of thermal windows. Thermal windows, also called insulated glass units (IGU) are either double-pane or triple-pane, meaning each section of window has two or three layers of glass with a sealed space in between. The spaces are filled with argon or other gasses to slow the transfer of heat through the window.
- Double/triple pane casement windows: A window pane, also sometimes referred to as glazing, is the sheet of glass separating the inside of your home from the outside. The introduction of additional panes in a window also led to the invention of insulated glass units (IGUs) sometimes referred to as sealed units. When multiple panes are combined into a sealed unit, they are bound together by an insulator, therefore more panes + more insulation = more cost savings.
Professional energy efficient window installation
Now that you’re convinced of the benefits of ENERGY STAR® windows, it’s important to remember that proper installation is just as key to the efficiency of the windows as the product itself. A poorly installed window may cause condensation, cold drafts or even allow water to leak into your home. A professional company will offer consultation on which type of window is best for your unique situation, install your windows perfectly to ensure there are no leaks and provide a warranty of the product and work.
When you purchase a car, you care about the gas mileage and when you purchase appliances, you want them to use less energy. Don’t treat your windows and doors any differently. Each and every day your windows and doors are keeping the ups and downs of the unpredictable Simcoe County weather outdoors. Plus, not only are you saving money, you’re also helping the environment. A professional window supplier and installation company, such as Weaver Exterior Remodeling, will help you get started by selected the best windows for your home and budget, and then install them perfectly. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy the view!