Window Types, Features and Energy Ratings – Windows generally last 10-30 years and over the last 20 years new technologies as well as performance standards have been introduced to help reduce heat loss or better energy efficiency. Windows can be a significant area of air loss which can translate into loss of energy.
Today you can choose among many different styles of windows as well as the type of material the window is made from. Awning, Casement, Fixed, Bay, Single/Double Hung, Tilt and Turn are just a few styles of windows where Aluminum, Wood, PVC and Fiberglass are the types of material available. Some of the features you can choose are single pane, double or triple pane (generally the more panes the better insulated, sometimes the cost of more panes may not justify the energy savings), low-E coating (helps improve the efficiency), tilt in sashes (can provide the ability to open the operable window towards the inside of the house to easily clean the outside portion of the sure the outside of the window is properly caulked).
Do your homework, window replacement either retro or complete frame can cost a lot of money. A typical 2 story home can cost approx $15,000-$20,000+ depending on type, style and installation.
Not only is the type or style important in choosing windows but other factors such as Air Tightness, Water Resistance and Wind Resistance are all performance related factors required in Canada as well Natural Resources Canada has introduced the Energy Star Rating for Windows which takes into account several performance metrics (U-Factor,Solar Heat Gain Coefficient and Air Leakage) which translates into an Energy Rating or ER. The ER rating is also based on three climate zones in Canada. NRC’s Energy Ratings Search is very helpful in pin pointing the exact make,model and type of window.
Window Wise Certification Program is a quality assurance program in Canada to give homeowners peace of mind that their window investment will be a lasting one, here you will also find a list of Authorized Dealers. Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada (SAWDAC) educates the consumer on what criteria to look for when hiring a contractor and also educates the contractors on the demanding procedures and high standards they must follow in order to earn and retain their nationally recognized SAWDAC certification.
Retrofit or Full Frame Replacement – If you are going with the retro-fit (the window frame is not removed, so it tends to be less expensive) and you have wood frame windows, make sure you fully inspect the outside for rot, damage and or any potential deficiencies which may have an impact on energy efficiency and or water entry into the house. If your outside wood frames are in good condition you may want to get a maintenance free siding, usually some type of aluminum, metal frame, which encapsulates the wood frame to help reduce wear due to outside weather conditions. Make sure the windows are properly caulked to help reduce water entry and air loss.
Window Cost Calculator– I found a Window Cost Calculator by Becker Window and Doors. I cannot tell you how accurate this is and I am not providing this link as any type of endorsement of the dealer, you MUST do your own due diligence and find an appropriate window, manufacturer and contractor/installer YOURSELF!. You can find a dealer at the SAWDAC Website. Make sure you read the fine print…Get a min of 3 quotes!
Metal Frame Windows – Usually basement windows, typically installed in the 1980’s, see picture to the left – these window frames should be checked on a regular basis for rust and or buckling, both may allow water to enter – These windows can also be protected with a maintenance free cladding as outlined above as long as they are still in good condition. But the very lest they should be painted with an outdoor rust free type paint to help reduce rusting. Replacing these frames can be expensive, they may also act like a lintel or support for the wall above the window. Make sure your contractor goes over the options with you.
The website Sills to Sash, can provide a lot more information about windows; window installation, performance, certification etc. At the home page is an 8 minute video, look along the bottom of the home page, I highly recommend you start with the video and then when your done review some of the other information, at the home page go to the top menu and look around, very informative information.
Condensation – Over time double pane windows may lose the seal between the window panes, this may allow dirt and or condensation to develop between the panes of the window, see picture to the right. Rather than replacing the whole window, there are companies who will sell you on the idea of drilling holes in the glass and clearing out the condensation, this may work, but for how long and will it happen again. You may be better off replacing the glass. I recommend to call around and see what is offered and how much it will cost.
Window Cranks/Handles – Sometimes the window is still within the manufacturers life expectancy (around 20-30 years) but some of the parts are damaged and or your experiencing air loss or cold air entry. If your somewhat inclined to do it yourself you can find parts for windows such as cranks, crack handles, locks, weather striping etc, and replace them yourself. This may actually help with the energy efficiency. I believe Home Depot and Lowes as well as other big box stores and local window specialist will carry parts.
Window Screens – Window screens are ideal to help reduce the possibility of insects or even small animals (birds) from getting inside your home when the window is open or maybe your dog or cat has damaged the screen. Did you know that Home Depot carries parts to make a custom fit screen, assuming you still have the actual screen frame. Click here for a Video on How to Replace a Window Screen.