Canadian winters are known to be cold and harsh. Though we do appreciate the cold season’s little delights – think: fireplace, snowman and hot chocolate! – , winter can also mean struggling to keep your home warm, and translate into additional energy loss, heating costs, and, even possibly, discomfort.
Because they are made of glass (an excellent heat conductor), windows constitute the weak link of building envelopes. And if you’re living in the city also, aside from the weather, you’re most likely exposed to the regular urban hustle and bustle, or worse, loud neighbours! So, how do you ensure your windows can protect you from the cold and the noise? By choosing quality insulation and high performance models.
Thermal and Sound Insulation
Several components can improve the thermal and acoustic insulation of windows, including the frame materials, the glazed units (glass), special coatings (“low-E glass”), inert gas fills, the spacers, and weatherstripping.
Window frames can be made of PVC (polyvynil chloride), aluminium, or wood, each featuring different levels of energy efficiency, maintenance, and operating life. Educate yourself and be sure to compare all advantages and disadvantages. For example, in Canada, the standard for glass is double-glazed (two panes), but triple-glazed is also available. The space between layers can be filled with inert gas (for example, argon), in order to reduce heat loss. You would also benefit from choosing an insulating spacer over less performing metal options. A low-emissivity (low-E) coating, a microscopically thin metallic layer, can also be applied to the glass surface to allow heat energy from the sun in, while reflecting the inside heat back into the house. Finally, for maximum airtightness, you should select double or triple weatherstripping, preferably compression seals.
Another important factor to consider is hiring a professional to install your windows. Your windows’ performance ultimately depends on it! A qualified and experienced team is the key to avoid any big or small problems down the road.
The Energy Star® CERTIFICATION
Not sure where to begin when choosing windows? Look for the ENERGY STAR® certification, an international label guaranteeing high energy efficiency. Window models that meet your region’s strictest energy efficiency performance criteria are shown to be up to 40% more efficient than standard market options. Be sure to correctly identify your region’s ENERGY STAR Climate Zone (most of Southern Canada is in Zone 2). And, don’t just save energy, save money too! Indeed, certified windows can reduce your energy bill by 8% on average. And, if smaller bills aren’t convincing enough, energy-saving renovations have also been shown to increase property value.
Beyond money, it’s your comfort we’re talking about here. Better insulation essentially means optimal heat retention and, as such, a warmer, cozier, and quieter home to enjoy.
For more information or to obtain a quote, contact Portatec. A Canadian manufacturer of premium custom doors and windows, Portatec is known for its high performance innovative products and outstanding customer service.
Source: Natural Resources Canada