Your Buying Guide for Energy Efficient Windows

When it’s time to replace aging windows, don’t settle for the first thing that catches your eye. It pays to know a bit about what those new windows should offer. That includes the amount of energy efficiency you can expect to joy. Here are some of the more common questions about energy efficient windows, including some suggestions on what the right windows will provide.

Are Energy Efficient Windows

Exactly What Are Energy Efficient Windows?

You may hear these types of windows described as energy efficient or energy savings windows. Whatever the name, the product and the intent is the same.

Energy efficient windows are windows that are designed to ensure that the hot or cold air in your home does not escape.

That makes it easier for you to cool the interior during the summer months and heat it during the winter. Best of all, the insulation provided by the windows allows you to do so while decreasing the amount of energy consumed. That ultimately results in lower energy bills.

Since not all energy efficient windows employ the same quality of materials, do pay close attention to the energy rating. You’ll find options like our DraftLOCK windows are among the best the industry has to offer.

What is It That Makes a Window More Energy Efficient?

The best windows of today incorporate several features that help them to provide greater energy efficiency. When comparing options for new windows, it helps to make sure all of those features are present. When they are part of the window design, you get to enjoy the optimal amount of energy efficiency, which translates into significant savings on your energy bills.

Here are the key features that make windows more energy efficient

Window Glass Made Using Multiple Panes
01

Window Glass
Made Using
Multiple Panes

As you begin to look at window designs, make a note of how many panes are used. For the best energy efficiency, you want to go with what’s known as double or triple pane glass. This is simply two or three sheets of glass that are sandwiched together with tiny spacers in between. Using spacers creates pockets in between the sheets that are filled with different types of gases and sealed. This creates a barrier that does not obstruct your view but does reduce the rate of heat and cold transference through the glass.

High-Quality Materials Used for the Framework
02

High-Quality
Materials Used for
the Framework

New windows typically involve the installation of new window frames. This is to ensure the fit is flush and there are no tiny gaps that would allow air seepage. The choice of materials is crucial when it comes to selecting new frames as well as the window sashes. Vinyl is considered to be one of the best choices because of the insulation property of the material. That’s one reason why we recommend vinyl windows and frames to our clients.

You will find that some other materials work well for window frames and still provide reasonable energy efficiency. Fibreglass is one example, as is composite materials. Wood frames paired with vinyl windows can also work well. Our team can help you settle on a combination that works well for your home.

Low-E Glass Coatings
03

Low-E Glass
Coatings

Low emissivity or Low-E coatings are designed to augment the insulation that’s already provided by the choice of window and frame materials plus the double or triple pane glass. The nice thing about these coatings is they work in all sorts of weather. You can expect it to help retain heat in the house during the winter while preventing it from seeping through the glass during the summer.

Typically, the coating is applied to the exterior side of the glass, allowing it to also help in terms of reducing the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light that enters your home. Even so, the coating will not prevent you from enjoying plenty of sunlight from your windows.

For property owners living in areas where the weather is cooler much of the year, a greater amount of heat gain may be desired. It is possible to apply a Low-E coating that allows more of a full light spectrum into the home. This results in greater heat retention that will make chilly nights more comfortable inside.

Window Spacers
04

Window
Spacers

Spacers used in between the double or triple sheets of glass ensures that there’s a uniform distance between each of those sheets. Typically, spacers are made using materials other than metal. Some are composed of several different materials. The result is layers of glass that are filled with gas in between and sealed. While providing more control over the temperature inside the home, they don’t create any loss in the ability to look out of your windows.

Window Gas Fillers
05

Window
Gas Fillers

The space created between the sheets of glass is filled with some type of clear gas. This aids in making the windows capable of providing more blockage of heat and cold without interfering with visibility. There are a number of different gases that can be used, all of which are free of odour, have no colour, and are not toxic.

Argon and krypton are two of the more common gases in use. For our DraftLOCK windows, we chose to use argon. As an option with a solid record of efficiency, we find it offers our customers the best in energy savings.

How Much Can a Property Owner Save by Installing Energy Efficient Windows?

Older windows that have single pane glass, no type of window film and may be mounted in frames that are warped or rotting do nothing to provide you with energy savings. That means choosing to replace those old windows with newer ones could save quite a bit of money over the course of a year.

How Much Can a Property Owner Save by Installing Energy Efficient Windows?

Energy Savings
Up to +30%

With DraftLOCK windows
Pre-installation usage

A number of factors influence how much you can save. The quality of insulation in the walls, attic, and basement play a role. Even so, we’ve had customers tell us that installing our new DraftLOCK windows has allowed them to enjoy energy savings of up to 30% compared to their pre-installation usage.

$100 —
$500 CAD
over the course of a year

How does that fall out in terms of savings on utility costs? It will vary. Current estimates indicate that homes of varying sizes and with certain features may lead to a reduction of anywhere between $100 and $500 CAD over the course of a year. This is assuming that you opt for new windows that include double or triple pane glass and go with new frames as well as windows.

12%
Average reduction in utility cost throughout one year

$200
Monthly
power bill

$24
Month
in savings

$288
Entire year
savings

While some of our clients have experienced energy savings of up to 30%, the average that’s often cited for windows that earn top Energy Star ratings is more along the lines of a 12% reduction in utility costs throughout one calendar year. That means if your power bill is usually around $200 each month, it’s reasonable to expect around $24 as month in savings. For the entire year, that comes to a savings of $288.

Keep in mind that’s based on an average. You may be among those who experience a greater percentage of energy savings during a typical year. Factors like the climate, the windows you choose, the number of windows that you replace, and even the other features of the home will also have some influence. For example, if your old windows did have single pane glass, going with double or triple pane glass could boost your savings close to the 30% that some of our customers have reported.

Given the Cost of Replacing a Window,
Is It Worth the Effort?

No one will argue that installing new energy efficient windows will completely offset the cost during the first year. Depending on the cost per window that you end up paying, it could take quite a few years to come close to breaking even. The thing to remember is that the energy savings are only part of the picture. There are other factors to consider in terms of what those new windows will provide.

One has to do with the comfort level. If you have aging windows with warped sashes or frames, the odds are that you’re not all that comfortable sitting near a window during the more extreme seasons. There’s also an increased chance for hot and cold spots throughout the house. Simply put, some areas of your home won’t be all that great for sitting or spending time in those spaces during certain times of the year.

Cats

New windows like our DraftLOCK design helps to reduce these comfort issues. As an option that earned a top Energy Star rating in 2020, these windows effectively block heat and cold from entering the home. That means you can sit near a window and be perfectly comfortable. It also means the possibility of hot and cold spots in different parts of the house is kept to a minimum.


$12,000+

Energy saving windows could increase market value of your home by $12,000 or more.

Another area where those new energy efficient windows make a difference is the market value of your property. New windows alone are likely to generate more interest if you decide to sell the home. The fact that they are windows designed to keep energy consumption lower and reduce energy costs makes them even more attractive. There are estimates that opting to install energy saving windows could increase that market value by $12,000 or more. Even if you installed the windows a few years back, that’s still likely to hold true.

How Do I Confirm
That I’m Getting Energy Star Windows?

Higher-quality window companies provide nothing but Energy Star windows, but it never hurts to confirm that you’re getting windows that meet these specifications. The most common way is to ask the company about the Energy Star rating. That usually leads to a confirmation that the windows do meet the qualifications set by Canada’s Energy Star standards.

You can also look at the windows proper. If they are in fact Energy Star certified, there will be a tiny logo found in a discreet spot on the frame and sash. At Canadian Choice, all of our DraftLOCK windows are in compliance with those standards, and we’re happy to point this out to our customers.

look at the windows

While there are standards that apply for any climate, do note there are some variations based on where you live. For example, windows designed for use in northern climates tend to allow more infrared light into the home, a quality that allows for greater heat generation by trapping warm air in the home. While having a lower U-factor, they remain in line with Energy Star standards.

For homes found in southern climates that tend to be warmer for more of the year, the focus is on keeping heat out of the house. The U-factor serves as evidence of the insulation qualities of the glass and identifying it as a better choice for warmer climates.

What’s the Deal About Energy Star Tax Credits and Rebate Programs?

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Opting to install windows that meet Energy Star standards means you are eligible for a tax credit. Originally slated to expire at the end of 2020, the credit has been extended to 31 December, 2021. Depending on the number of windows you choose to replace, it’s possible to qualify for a tax credit of as much as $500.

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There are also rebate programs in different provinces that may help boost the savings as well. For example, Ontario currently has a rebate program that can provide up to $500 per window that’s replaced, assuming they meet the standards set by the province. You currently can seek rebates for as many as ten windows. That’s sure to help with the overall cost of replacing all the windows in your home.

If you want to know more about the tax credit or how to apply for a rebate, talk with your Canadian Choice window contractor. We can help you determine how much you could save using these two strategies.

What’s Meant by Energy Star VT Ratings Windows?

VT is a term that refers to visible transmittance. Basically, the VT rating for your Energy Star windows indicates how much visible light can pass through the glass panes. This is helpful in terms of deciding whether you want to limit the amount of natural light or whether you want to allow more through the glass.

Consider what you would want for a room that’s used as home theatre. While you would want to see out of the windows at times, keeping the space darker is a good idea. In this case you would want windows with a lower VT rating.

The same is true if you work nights and sleep during the day. Windows with lower VT ratings would make it easier to keep the space dark and make it easier to sleep.

  • U-factor

    U-factor

  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient

    Solar Heat Gain Coefficient

  • Visible Transmittance

    Visible Transmittance

  • Air Leakage

    Air Leakage

  • Condensation Resistance

    Condensation Resistance

On the other hand, there are spaces where you would want the maximum amount of light to pass through the glass. The kitchen is a prime example. In that area, more light is just what you need when preparing meals. That means you want glass with a higher VT rating.

To achieve the effect you want, the use of Low-E coatings can provide the tint that you prefer. From blocking a little light to most of it, there are plenty of options. Feel free to discuss them with our team and we’ll help you select something that’s right for each room.

Does the Installation Team Make a Difference?

It’s important to select the highest quality of replacement windows. You’ll find that who installs them also matters. If you want to get the most benefit from those new windows, they must be installed by professionals who know what to do and how to do it. The installation is one more way that you protect the warranty that comes with those new windows. If something goes wrong later and the origin is the installation, the windows company is not bound to provide any benefits to you. On the other hand, windows that are installed properly and there is no reason to believe that the installation adversely affected the windows in any way are likely to remain covered for the warranty’s duration.

Superior window installers like those at Canadian Choice guarantee their work. That means if some issue does arise later on and it’s found to be due to the installation itself, the team will be back to correct the problem. That’s not something every installer offers.

Before you decide who will install the new windows, do some research. Check online reviews and ratings. Ask around town and talk with people who have used the company in the past. Request references and follow up with them. When you find that most of what you hear is positive, that window installer is likely to be a good choice.

The Bottom Line: How Much Will I Spend for New Energy Efficient Windows?

The cost for your new windows is often presented as a per window rate. Some companies may provide a discount based on the number of windows you buy and the degree of difficulty with the installation. Even the window design itself will influence the per window rate that you end up paying.

Currently, you can expect to pay somewhere between $400 and $900 for each window that you replace. That may or may not include the installation cost as well as the window purchase. It also considers only windows that comply with Energy Star standards.

Keep in mind that this figure is an average. You may pay less per window based on the design or any discount that the window company extends. Standard two-sash windows may run a little lower, while an oversized casement window would be higher.

The best approach is to select the windows that you want, identify the quantity and then ask for a free estimate from the windows company. Specifically ask if the estimate is for the windows only or if the cost of installation and other fees is included. Doing so will make it easier to compare options offered by different providers.

It’s true that buying and installing new energy efficient windows represents a significant investment. In return, you get to enjoy lower utility costs per month and greater control over the temperature in every area of the house. You also stand to receive a higher price if you decide to sell the property in the future. Don’t forget that reducing your home’s energy consumption also means lowering your carbon footprint, something that’s good for the environment. That’s one more consideration that will help you feel even better about making the switch to more energy efficient windows.