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How to choose energy efficient windows by Energy Star

OK, this little cartoon movie from the folks at ENERGY STAR would be perfectly at home with “The Jetsons”; but don’t let the light flavor of its construction detract from its common-sense message for any homeowner who is embarking on a journey for new windows and doors.

The problem for most homeowners is that purchasing windows is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Most people buy multiple cars in their lifetime. Many will even purchase more than one home. Very few people will purchase windows more than once in their life. As a result, even the most basic steps to acquiring new windows are extremely helpful.

There is no point in us describing the film’s contents, however we do want to point out some important facts that are mentioned in it that require additional clarification.

In describing the ideal window, there is a brief mention of insulated frames without any further information. Most vinyl windows are hollow with air chambers designed to make the frame thermally efficient. While this works, adding insulation into these empty cavities is a recognized improvement, which is why ENERGY STAR and Natural Resources Canada mention it. Many window manufacturers do not offer this, even as an option. At GEM windows we are certainly capable of supplying windows without additional frame and sash insulation, however we do have a variety of products where this option is available. Sometimes it is a low expansion foam, injected directly into the lengths of vinyl before they are processed into your window. Sometimes it is a preformed piece, shaped for the frame or sash cavities and inserted into the vinyl. Homeowners who want the extra benefit of foam should always discuss this with their GEM representative.

The video also makes a passing mention that you may have condensation on the inside surface of your old windows with the implication that new windows will eliminate, or at least reduce, this problem. While this is true, condensation is more complicated then this. Look for our blog that provides details of condensation’s causes and solutions, but here is a thumbnail of information.

Condensation means that the relative humidity of the air adjacent to the window is too high for the temperature of the surface of the window (usually the glass) to support. While the new windows will provide a higher surface temperature of the glass, the increased air tightness will prevent moisture in the air from exiting your home, increasing the relative humidity. Higher relative humidity increases the possibility of condensation. There are solutions! Seen our blog on condensation!

The film also mentions the importance of a quality insulation. GEM installers are Window Wise certified. This program is the best industry method of validating the competence of your installer. Some companies will tell you, “They don’t require third party validation because they are so good”. GEM doesn’t require it, but GEM chooses to give you this validation because we take pride in what we do.

Another part of the film talks about the three ENERGY STAR zones in Canada, with southern Ontario being in zone 2. This is accurate… today, but will not be accurate by 2020, when ENERGY STAR changes. In 2020, there will be one zone for all of Canada and the requirements will basically be the same as the requirements today for zone 3, the northern zone. So, our question to you is the following. If you want to have ENERGY STAR windows, do you want them to still be ENERGY STAR windows when the program changes its requirements? If you do, then please discuss what you need to purchase to receive zone 3 windows today. (Many Ontario citizens already did when they purchased their window under the 2018 GreenON program.) Whether or not you may want to sell your home in a few years and be able to still claim that your windows are ENERGY STAR, or simply want the assurance that you’re living and benefiting from these excellent performing products, at GEM we believe that sharing this information with you now will assist you in making choices from a perspective of being fully informed.

That’s it for our introduction to the government’s film. Enjoy and benefit from it!

2018-12-17T17:33:14+00:00 December 14th, 2018|