Choosing the Right Windows
There’s energy efficient and then there’s the most energy efficient. When it comes to windows and doors, it’s a distinction that means something to homeowners. Increased energy efficiency can improve home comfort and save you money on heating and cooling. This is particularly important for Canadians, who deal with four distinct (and sometimes challenging) seasons.
Besides added comfort and reduced energy costs, eligible energy-efficient window and door products can earn you purchasing rebates from federal and provincial governments and others. You get to upgrade your home with attractive, energy-efficient windows and doors while saving money and helping the environment. It’s a win-win!
Starting from windows as a huge source of energy loss, here is our guide to how to find the most energy-efficient windows and how to get money back on your purchase.
What is the difference between energy-efficient and most energy-efficient windows and doors?
We can all agree that energy efficiency is a good thing, and any step you take towards improving energy efficiency in your home is a step in the right direction. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), ENERGY STAR®-qualified windows, doors and skylights reduce overall annual energy costs by about 8% compared to standard products. Although windows and doors don’t consume energy, they can be a source of heat loss in the home. Energy-efficient products will help to keep your home more comfortable all year long. They may also create less condensation in cold weather than a non-ENERGY STAR model.
Within the ENERGY STAR program, there are products that meet “energy efficiency” criteria and products that meet “most energy-efficient” criteria. Only certain kinds of ENERGY STAR-certified products earn the most efficient designation each year.
ENERGY STAR-qualified products meet these specific criteria:
- A U-factor of 1.22 W/m2K (0.21 Btu/h·ft.2·°F) or lower
- An Energy Rating (ER) of 34 (unitless) or higher
ENERGY STAR most efficient meet these specific criteria:
- A U-factor of 1.05 W/m2K (0.18 Btu/h·ft.2·°F) or lower
- An Energy Rating (ER) of 40 (unitless) or higher
It sounds complicated, but essentially products are rated either on their U-factor or their Energy Rating (ER). The U-factor measures the rate of heat loss–the lower the number, the slower the heat loss. The ER formula combines a look at the U-factor, along with air leakage and the benefit of potential solar gain. The higher the ER, the higher potential energy savings.
NRCan outlines the most efficient criteria for windows and sliding glass doors. Besides meeting the U-factor or ER rating above, the product must be manufactured by an ENERGY STAR Canada participant like JELD-WEN®; be sold in Canada and registered with NRCan as ENERGY STAR certified and posted on the NRCan website; and meet requirements for labelling and promotion of ENERGY STAR-certified window and door products.
To qualify for ENERGY STAR certification, window and door products must meet energy efficiency levels set for one Canadian climate zone. They must also be certified for energy efficiency by an accredited agency.
How can I ensure I’m using the most energy-efficient windows?
You can improve your home’s energy efficiency and save on monthly energy bills by choosing triple pane windows, which are just what they sound like–windows with three layers of glass rather than one or two. A dual pane window has two panes of glass with airspace held together around the perimeter with a spacer. Triple pane windows have double the airspace for higher performance and better home comfort. With JELD-WEN’s Northern Tri-Pane Collection™ windows, the exterior pane insulates the interior panes to reduce heat loss, and as a result, home heating and cooling costs.
The True Tri-Pane Technology™ provides two half-inch airspaces, with Low-E argon fill for a U-factor of 1.08 to 1.02. The extra airspace between each pane acts as a second layer of insulation. The interior panes reduce radiant heat and condensation, allowing for more cold-weather humidity and eliminating dry winter air.
Tri-Pane windows outperform Dual-Pane windows with:
- 50% more insulated space, for reduced condensation and increased efficiency
- 50% more gas fill, significantly increasing thermal performance
ENERGY STAR products are typically in the top 15 – 30% of their class for energy performance, and the entire Northern Tri-Pane Collection™ is compliant, so you know you are getting a great window.
How do I take advantage of purchasing rebate programs to save money on windows?
By choosing ENERGY STAR-compliant windows, both efficient and most efficient, like JELD-WEN’s Northern Tri-Pane Collection, you could be eligible for provincial and federal rebates.
Buildings, including homes, account for 18% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the federal government.
The Canada Greener Homes grant is a 6-year incentive program available to 700,000 homes across Canada. Homeowners may be eligible for up to $5,000 in federal grants. This program can be combined with savings from provincial rebate programs too.
The grant targets specific home improvements that increase energy efficiency. Windows and sliding glass doors that are ENERGY STAR certified or ENERGY STAR most efficient certified are eligible, with rebates set at:
- Up to $125 for each ENERGY STAR-certified window and sliding patio door (must have a U-factor of 1.22 or less OR an Energy Rating ≥ 34)
- Up to $250 for each ENERGY STAR most efficient window and sliding patio door (must have a U-factor of 1.05 or less OR an Energy Rating ≥ 40)
JELD-WEN manufactures many ENERGY STAR-certified products that qualify for the Greener Homes grant, so taking advantage of the savings offered by this program is simple. Visit a store or online retailer to see more about the available windows and doors.
Look out for purchasing rebates available in your province or territory to save even more money on windows. Visit keepoutsideout.com for a list of rebates available in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Try our easy energy savings calculator to see how much money you could save by switching out your old windows for new windows from JELD-WEN’s Northern Tri-Pane Collection. The calculator will reveal your total estimated annual energy savings and potential federal and provincial purchase rebates. Using ENERGY STAR rated, Tri-Pane windows in Canadian homes just makes sense. They offer better insulation from the elements, reducing heating and cooling costs and our home’s carbon footprint! Partnering with an ENERGY STAR qualified manufacturer like JELD-WEN to capitalize on the available rebates also makes a lot of sense!
Visit Buying Guide Part 2 – How to choose the most energy-efficient windows and door for doors buying guide.