Category Archives: Windows

Window Buying Guide for Canada

Custom Wood ShuttersShopping for windows might not be the most exciting shopping experience but it can be very rewarding. You can improve both the design and efficiency of your home with the right windows. With some key shopping tips, not only will you choose the best windows for your home, you’ll invest in an energy efficient system and save money.

Whether you just purchased your home or you’ve had your home for years, energy efficiency is an important consideration. Building them into a new home or replacing old windows can offer significant savings. There are many components that contribute to cost-effective insulation including walls, roof, ceilings, floors, and windows. The fact is that windows provide less resistance to heat flow; therefore they are the area of greatest heat loss and gain. Lower quality windows can account for as much as 25-30% of heat loss in your home, which ultimately increases energy use and costs (to maintain a desired ambient temperature).

The performance of a window is graded based on the insulation value (R value) and the glass (U factor). Performance is higher when the U Factor is lower. The U factor is broken down into two ratings – one for the center of the glass, the other for the window as a whole. It’s best to pay attention to the total rating, as it more accurately reflects the window’s energy performance. The other characteristic worth noting is the solar heat gain coefficient, which describes light that passes through a window and warms the interior living space. The higher the SHGC number, the greater the amount of passive solar gain, which is important in heating cold weather climates.

There are many different types of window glazing you will come across as you shop. Clear, tinted, multiple pane, and gas filled are the most common. Of all these options for single-glazed units are the least energy efficient as well as least cost-efficient. With multiple-pane glazing, there are two or more layers of glass separated by spacers. This provides increased thermal resistance to winter heat loss and summer solar heat gain. Even better, a double-paned glazing unit filled with argon or krypton gas delivers the optimal thermal performance.

The more panels in the assembly, the higher the thermal resistance. The flipside is that the thicker the window, the less visible light will be transmitted. This can greatly decrease the solar heat gain in the winter, which is important for Canadian winters.

The final aspect we’re going to cover today is the low-E coating. This is the super thin, transparent layer of metal or metal oxide applied to window glazing to reduce the transfer of heat while still allowing the full amount of sunlight to pass through. Emissivity of a window ranges from zero to one, whereby the lower the E-rating the lower the amount of heat radiated to another surface. During the winter, low-E coatings are used to reflect solar heat back into your home’s interior. During summer they reflect heat trapped indoors back to the outside.

Pros and Cons of Awning Windows

Awning WindowsAwning windows are very similar to casement windows. The one big difference is that rather than opening to the side, awning windows open out from the bottom. The hinges are mounted on the top instead of the sides.

Deciding to install awning windows rather than the more traditional casement windows has its advantages and disadvantages. First, you want to make sure they match the style you want for your home. They look different than casement windows when they are open and can be harder to clean.
The costs for awning windows vary depending on material, size, and manufacturer. Because costs vary based on these and other factors, a top-of-the-line awning window may cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars on the low end up to over a thousand or more on the high end. Steel and wood are the most expensive materials for awning windows, while aluminum, cellular PVC, composite, fiberglass, and vinyl are the least expensive.

Here are some of the pros of using awning windows:

They offer exceptional ventilation because they can be installed higher than many other types of windows. When placed high, awning windows can provide natural light and ventilation without compromising privacy. High placement also allows for maximum wall space for design aspects such as art and furniture placement.

They are excellent choices for damp climates because they offer weather-tight construction.  Awning windows can protect your home against moisture, even when they’re open during a rainstorm. Because of the way they are constructed, they allow for nearly 100% of the viable ventilation in a given area without the threat of water seeping into your home. Awning windows also offer a superior seal to prevent drafts.

While casement windows offer a traditional look, since the awning style opens out from the bottom, this will give your home a more contemporary look. For certain style homes this adds immense value to curb appeal.

As with anything, the good comes with the bad. Here are some cons to installing this type of window:
You don’t want them installed near areas of high foot traffic outside your home. Awning windows have open projecting sashes. If the window sits overlooking sidewalks, decks, porches, or terraces, someone can easily collide with the windows’ jutting sashes, which could cause a bad injury, especially if they hit their head.

They need to be cleaned more frequently than casement windows. Open sashes on awning windows are exposed. The open slashes slant as well, so they can become dirty faster than other types of windows and require regular washing.

They can impede quick egress if it is needed. Screens and storm windows are mounted on the inside of awning windows. This could make a fast escape difficult in case of a fire or other dangerous situation. However, the construction of awning windows makes entry quite difficult as well.