There are few things more annoying than finding yourself freezing in your own home, despite having the heat on full-blast. As you may already know, the most likely cause of heat loss is your windows. Unfortunately, it’s often hard, if not impossible, to have old windows fixed. The solution? Have new windows installed!
But if you’ve ever looked at purchasing new windows, then you’re aware that it’s not that simple: there are many options, and choosing between them can be intimidating for someone who’s unfamiliar with the range of products offered by today’s window industry. The following list is designed to help you determine the quality of the windows you’re thinking of purchasing so that you can find the best product for your money.
- Energy Efficiency: Energy Star and the Canadian Standards Association
Often the most important reason to have new windows installed, energy efficient windows can have a noticeable effect on your hydro bill and can improve the comfortability of your home by keeping the cold out while letting the sun’s heat in.
Energy efficiency is measured in a number of ways, but is most accurately summarized by Energy Star’s Energy Rating (ER). The ER of a window reflects the balance between solar gain, heat transfer, and air leakage. The ER of a window indicates slower heat transfer from hot to cold areas without a significant reduction in solar gain. The higher this number, the better.
Energy Star is an organization that offers certification to qualified products. Some of the key features of an Energy Star-qualified window include double- or triple-glazing (meaning double or triple pane windows) with a sealed and insulated glass unit containing inert gasses, such as argon, with a low-E coating; low-conductivity spacer bars; insulated frames; and multiple points of contact where the sash meets the frame, which ensures proper air-tightness.
Another agency that offers certification for windows is the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), which provides product testing and certification services within a wide range of industries. In order for a product to boast the CSA label it must be tested by independent, certified laboratories, as well as conform to Canadian legal standards.
When shopping for new Vinyl windows, be sure to look for windows that are CSA-certified with an Energy Star label and that have an ER of at least 30.
- Construction: Built to Last
Beyond the glass and energy efficiency discussed above, the construction of a window determines its functionality, aesthetics, and structural integrity.
The frame should be made of 100% Polyresin 3 PVC and should be designed in such a way that it draws moisture away from the window and towards the drains, preventing the formation of mould and reducing condensation. Vinyl frames should feature multiple chambers; the more chambers, the higher the structural integrity of the window. The frames should also include a fly maze, which is a sponge-like material that prevents insects from nesting in, or entering your home through, the window. An insulating foam can also be included in the frame, which, when combined with triple-glazed sealed units, can increase the ER of the window.
Moving beyond the frame, the window should seal at multiple points, known as weather seals. In order to ensure a completely sealed unit, a vinyl window should include at least three seals built directly into the frame of the window. This prevents air transfer in case one of the seals fails.
- Warranty: Peace of Mind
One of the most important considerations when purchasing new Vinyl windows is the warranty. A strong warranty not only means that you can rest assured that, if your new window breaks, it will be fixed, but also that the manufacturer has faith in the integrity and longevity of their product.
The most important thing to look for is the length of the warranty. Quality vinyl windows will come with a lifetime warranty for the vinyl frame, sash, hardware, and insulating glass. But beware: when a warranty is advertised as “lifetime,” it may mean your lifetime, or it may mean the lifetime of the product as determined by the manufacturer.
Lifetime warranties are also commonly prorated, so it’s important to read the fine print and talk to your sales rep about how warranty coverage works and how long your new window is actually covered for.
At Edmunds Home Improvements, we install Vinylbilt Windows. For over 30 years they’ve used bleeding-edge technology to construct windows that are Energy Star- and CSA-Certified. All of their windows come with a transferrable, true lifetime warranty. Check them out here and contact us today to schedule your free estimate.
New windows are wasted if they’re not installed right. Stay tuned; next week’s blog will detail how to properly install new vinyl windows.