Energy efficiency has become an increasingly important focus for homebuilding and renovations across Canada. And for good reason: through increased efficiency, homeowners can take advantage of enhanced performance and significant cost savings in almost every area of the home.
But what role do your windows have to play?
This guide will walk through the basics of how windows impact energy efficiency and what to consider when planning an energy efficient window renovation.
Why is Energy Efficiency important? The benefits of energy efficiency for a homeowner are twofold. Firstly, there’s the direct impact on your home’s utility bills: by reducing the amount of energy required for the day-to-day heating and powering of your home, you’ll see an equally significant decrease of your monthly bills.
In fact, Natural Resources Canada estimates homeowners save approximately 8% on their energy bill when they install energy efficient windows.
Secondly, by reducing the energy demands of your home, you’re making a positive contribution in lowering our collective carbon footprint. You’ll also be reducing energy demand on your local power system.
How can old windows hinder Energy Efficiency? Windows and doors play a significant role in maintaining or hampering the climate of your home. Natural Resource Canada has determined that inefficient windows, doors and skylights can represent up to 25% of the energy loss in your home. This makes old or damaged windows and doors a serious liability to both your comfort and your wallet in several ways:
Prone to leakage, old or damaged windows let in cold, damp air and let your home’s precious warm air out. This leads to your home consuming more energy to maintain the desired temperature. As a result, your power bills rise, you pay more money and your home is significantly less comfortable.
Old windows can often have only one or two panes of glass. This lack of insulation can create uncomfortable cold spots near windows while increasing power consumption to maintain a comfortable home temperature.
What Energy Efficient features should I be looking for in windows? Most modern windows employ a variety of efficiency features that promote energy savings and enhance home comfort:
Triple Pane Glass – Windows with three panes of glass offer superior energy efficiency, noise reduction and comfort. By providing more insulation than their lesser-paned counterparts, triple pane windows keep your homes warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
Low-E Coating – An innovation in efficiency has been the use of Low-E applications on the exterior of windows. Low-E glass has a fine, transparent metal coating designed to reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.
U-Factor – The U-factor is a metric indicating the insulating ability of a window. You may come across it while comparing different window makes and models. The lower the U-factor, the more efficient the window. Ultimately, a low U-factor means less heat or cold is transmitted through the window compared to those with a higher U-factor.
ENERGY STAR® Certification – Trust that you’re getting the most energy efficient products on the market by looking for the ENERGY STAR certification symbol. Officially certified products meet strict energy efficiency standards and are vetted by an independent third party to assure high-quality performance. All Weather Windows offers a wide range of ENERGY STAR and ENERGY STAR Most Efficient products, and has even been recognized as an ENERGY STAR Manufacturer of the Year.
How do I take advantage of window placement? The location of your windows on your home is the biggest determinant of how much light and heat they let into your home. Carefully consider where your windows are placed to maximize their efficiency.
South- & West-Facing Windows – Windows facing the south and the west will receive the most sunlight in a home. To take advantage of the sun’s heat, while reducing the load on your home’s heating system, consider installing windows with a higher Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). A window with a high SHGC will allow in more sunlight to naturally warm a space.
East- & North-Facing Windows – East- and North-facing windows receive the least amount of sunlight and solar energy in your home. Installing windows with a lower SHGC will insulate your home by reflecting more indoor heat back into a space. Windows with lower SHGC will also keep your home cooler in the summer by keeping the sun’s rays out.
To fund your energy efficient renovation, explore Canada’s Greener Homes Grant, a valuable resource that may help to cover a portion of new window costs.