Understand your energy consumption
It goes without saying that we all need to heat our homes in the winter! While we can’t escape the costs associated with heating, choosing windows that feature low-emissivity (Low-E) glass and argon gas can help to reduce these costs. These features use the sun’s rays during the day to bring warmth into your home, and also effectively minimize heat loss at night.
WHAT IS LOW-EMISSIVITY GLASS?
Emissivity refers to the ability of a material to radiate energy, including radiant heat. Thus, reducing a window’s emissivity can greatly improve its ability to insulate. To obtain low-emissivity glass, a microscopically thin layer of metallic coating that is invisible to the naked eye is applied to the glass surface. This “low-e” coating is designed to minimize solar heat gain in the summer, all the while allowing daylight through. It blocks ultraviolet radiation, near-infrared radiation, and long-wave heat that is radiated from outside (from objects such as the hot pavement). Low-e glass also acts as an insulator to prevent the radiant heat produced by your home’s heating system in the winter from escaping through the windows.
WHY TURN UP THE HEAT?
To counteract drafts or the coldness felt when close to a window, our most common reaction is to turn up the heat. Most air leaks and heat loss can be eliminated by properly installing energy-efficient windows. When we feel comfortable, we tend to leave the thermostat alone.
EFFICIENT IN WINTER AND SUMMER
In an energy-efficient home, efficient windows contribute to maintaining low heating costs in the winter and low air-conditioning costs in the summer. During very hot days, low-emissivity glass works just as hard as in the winter: it obstructs infrared rays and blocks the UV rays responsible for the premature wear of window treatments. Therefore, during the day, it is easier to tolerate the sun than with ordinary glass. The interior of the home is cooler and more comfortable and air conditioning is less costly.
IN LIGHT OF THE STUDIES
In most Canadian regions, heating costs are much higher than air-conditioning costs. It is therefore recommended that windows be chosen based on the Energy Rating (ER). However, in sunnier and warmer regions, where air-conditioning costs exceed heating costs, it is preferable to choose windows that only reduce solar energy gain.
THE PROPER LEVEL OF HUMIDITY
The very dry air in winter causes several inconveniences such as static electricity each time you touch a handle or switch, dry skin, irritated nose and throat, unattractive plants and furniture damage. Remember that hot air is always absorbed by cold air. Therefore, if there are weak spots around a door or window, the warm air from inside the home will be drawn toward the outside along with the home’s natural moisture.
To restore a comfortable level of humidity, a humidifier can be installed but it is difficult to maintain a consistent, balanced and stable level of humidity. Also, certain areas of the home always remain dry while others are excessively humid. Windows fog up and black microfungi appear on wooden frames.
In order to prevent unbalanced levels of humidity, it is best to ensure a proper interior/exterior ratio. As such, installing high-efficiency, weatherproof windows and doors that are easy to open at all times is advisable for adequate ventilation. Such windows prevent air leakage and excessive loss of moisture. In fact, since they do not conduct heat and the glass and frame do not get cold, there is nowhere for condensation to form. The only time condensation will form is if there is an excessive amount of humidity inside the household.
It seems obvious but we tend to forget that the main property of a window is its ability to let in a large quantity of light! Drawing on natural light reduces energy consumption in two ways. First, it is not necessary to turn the lights on during the day. Secondly, 15% of the energy consumed by a lightbulb is transformed into light and 85% into heat. Consequently, the fewer lights we turn on in summer, the lower our need for air conditioning. This double benefit results in considerable savings, particularly in large buildings with central air conditioning.
Beautiful large windows allow for a greater amount of daylight to enter your home, which can have a very positive impact on your mood and sense of well-being. Having a wonderful view of the outdoors brings a sense of freedom and inclusion by being able to see what’s going on outside, your neighbours who pass by, and the changing weather.
Windows that can be opened year round motivate us to restore the tradition of airing out our home each day to let in fresh air and drive out any excess humidity. Also, it is healthy to let the sun in since it is the largest natural sanitizer.
Why deprive yourself of all these advantages?
ENERGY STAR: THE SYMBOL OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY
The ENERGY STAR label was created to establish a uniform system for calculating and evaluating the energy efficiency of everything that actively or passively consumes energy. This certification informs the consumer about the cost of using certain products.
THE BEST WAY TO SAVE ENERGY IS TO NOT CONSUME ANY
Most household appliances that consume energy in order to operate are examined under the ENERGY STAR microscope, but not all are awarded the small blue label. Not only can products that consume energy qualify for ENERGY STAR certification, but so too can products like windows and doors which have an impact on daily energy use. Due to their passive role in energy consumption, these elements can play a major role as far as energy efficiency goes.
A SYMBOL OF RELIABILITY
The ENERGY STAR label was developed in the United States in 1992 during the massive growth of the computer industry. Canada very quickly followed suit and since then, the label has been adopted by several countries. Since April 2004, Canadian ENERGY STAR certification criteria have been developed for glass doors and windows intended for use in our geographical location. In 2005, it was found useful to also consider entrance doors. The ENERGY STAR seal is a respected label that must be earned.
DESIRABLE SIDE EFFECTS
Installing high-efficiency windows provides superior comfort that helps minimize energy consumption – no more waste! Also, ENERGY STAR certified doors and windows filter the sun’s rays to prevent discolouring furniture, leather sofas, wooden blinds and fabric window treatments. Windows that are well insulated and properly installed are not prone to condensation or mold, which keeps the frames in good condition for a long time. Increased comfort, furniture preservation and guaranteed durable windows are all part of the tangible savings associated with the ENERGY STAR label.