The costs associated with heating and cooling your home make a significant dent in your hydro bill. But did you know that exterior doors and windows are a prime culprit when it comes to high energy bills? When the air you’re heating or cooling escapes through windows and doors that are in poor condition, you’re essentially tossing your hard earned dollars out the window too.
One solution is to retrofit with new windows. Taking this route allows you to better preserve a comfortable temperature within your home while also saving money. As a bonus, retrofitting also improves the appearance of your property, which increases the property’s resale value.
So how do new windows decrease your hydro bills? First, choosing windows with a high energy rating (ER) provides your space with the proper air flow, air tightness and solar gain. New window materials allow you to take advantage of options such as double or triple panes, low-emissivity coatings and insulating spacers, all of which minimize air loss and condensation issues and improve energy performance. New frame materials similarly affect the insulating effectiveness of your windows, along with protecting the longevity of windows that you do install.
When your windows have condensation, that’s an indication that the energy efficiency of your windows has been compromised. Condensation is due to humidity levels, and if your windows have a poor seal, then the moisture levels in the air exceed what the air is capable of holding. Condensation is the result. Not only does condensation indicate that the humidity levels in your space are too high, it also means that your HVAC unit has to work much harder. Ensuring that your windows include a properly sealed glazing unit prevents humidity from developing.
Selecting the right combination of glazing, coating, spacer bars and frames gives you optimal, energy-efficient air flow. Let’s look at each of these components a bit more closely:
To minimize heat/cold air loss, windows that are triple glazed are ideal. This glazing option is preferred because the space between each layer of glazing helps trap the air, keeping it inside your home.
Low emissivity coating (e-coating)
Selecting double pane windows with a low-emissivity coating promotes energy efficiency. Low e-coating is a coating that is exceptionally thin (microscopic, in fact) metallic layer applied to regular glass. This almost transparent coating dramatically improves the pane’s energy performance by controlling the amount of heat and light that passes through the window; the coating reflects long-wave infrared energy (or heat) so that when interior heat energy tries to escape during the winter or exterior heat tries to enter during the summer, the reflects the heat back to the inside or outside, respectively.
E-coating is either hard coat (pyrolytic) or soft coat (sputtered). Hard coat e-coating is preferred for extreme climates since it allows some of the sun’s short-wave infrared energy to pass through to help heat the building during the winter and cool the building during summer. Sputtered e-coating provides enhanced solar and thermal performance, which is better suited to temperate climates.
When selecting an e-coating, choose the one that provides good performance in all of the property’s windows, as opposed to trying to customise the e-coating for each window based on the given room’s sun exposure.
Older windows have traditionally had glazing layers separated by hollow metal spacer bars. Spacer bars made from such material, however, produce high thermal conductivity, which contributes to condensation issues. Spacer bars in new windows feature low thermal conductivity materials such as silicone foam or stainless steel to address this issue.
Replacement frames are available in a variety of materials. To maximize energy efficiency, select material that provides good insulation, such as wood, fiber glass or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Wood frames typically feature aluminium or vinyl on the exterior to promote durability. Wood can, however, be prone to warping and rotting. Both fiberglass and PVC frames are not prone to these issues, can be painted to achieve custom colors and are also maintenance-free.
With so many new, improved materials that promote cost savings on energy bills, retrofitting your property is one easy way to achieve a greener, energy efficient home.