Window Series: How to Get Started with Energy Star Rated Windows

Where to begin…

With any new project, the first step is deciding where to begin.  Whether you are buying a new home, or renovating your existing home, one thing to seriously consider is the quality of window that you want to have.  With window improvements, you have to determine downfalls in the existing units, what your expectations are in upgrading, and how much you want to spend.  Some problems may be solved without having to replace the entire window.

If you are thinking of upgrading the windows in your home, you essentially have three different options.

The first, most cost effective option would be to change the sealed units (glass) in your windows only.  Depending on your existing windows this may or may not be possible and this is something we would be able to help you determine.  This option is ideal if your windows are fairly new and in good condition, but have failed sealed units.

The second option is to retro-fit a new window into an existing frame.  This option is useful if the sashes of your window are in poor condition, but the perimeter frame is OK and you want to preserve the existing look of your home.

The third option is to completely tear-out the old window and frame, insulate the opening and install everything from scratch.  If your windows are in rough shape and drafty; this is the most common and most effective type of installation for window replacement.

What to look for…

The wide variety of windows available on the market can make the task of selecting appropriate units confusing.  Price should not always be the determining factor.  The cheapest units you can find may not perform at the level you want.  However, some inexpensive units may perform as well as, or even better than, higher-priced models.  The best advice to keep in mind is that price is not always an indication of quality or performance.

The cost of energy-efficient, high-performance windows can be 10-15 percent more than the standard double-glazed unit.  However, many window manufacturers (and all of the ones we deal with at Beingessner) are switching over their entire production line to produce only high-performance units so, in effect; there is no price differential as far as they are concerned.  Today, the high-performance window is becoming the industry standard.

Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll be better prepared to ask the right questions when you shop for windows and, equally important, know when you’re getting the right answers.

The goal is to select windows that are as energy-efficient as possible, given your needs and budget.

Another aspect to consider is the advantages and disadvantages of framing materials, as well as the maintenance required and the durability of hardware.  Windows are a long-term investment.

Inspect samples before making a decision, taking into account the following basic features:

Window type – may be fixed or operable

Glazing type – affects energy efficiency and the amount of light which passes through the window

Frame materials – affect the insulation value, strength, maintenance requirements and longevity of the window

Energy performance (ER) – there may be a trade-off between efficiency and price

Warranties – differ from supplier to supplier and window to window; compare before you purchase


For more information, visit the NRCAN website.

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