Could Your Windows Be More Energy Efficient?


If you were looking to purchase a new home, and were planning to live in it for the foreseeable future, you would probably be aware that certain components would need to be replaced over time.  Most homeowners know that items like roofing, appliances, flooring, heating equipment, hot water systems, etc have a certain lifespan; and therefore do some ‘lifecycle planning’ for replacement.  However, many people in the past have not realized that the windows and doors are also likely candidates for an upgrade after several years of use.

It is important to understand that the basic reason for upgrading windows is not the same as many of the other components in your home, and therefore requires a slightly different decision process. Once a home is no longer young, many of the items that make up its structure are worn out.  A lot like people!  Roofing, appliances, and mechanical equipment get to the point where they can no longer properly do the job they were originally intended to do, and it becomes rather obvious that they need to be replaced.  If you put this off too long, perhaps your leaking roof may let you know that the time to decide on a replacement product has come. Windows and doors are less likely to actually ‘wear out’, although many early double glazed windows have glass units that are susceptible to failure.

Therefore, the primary motivator for replacing these items is the incredible leaps in energy efficiency the fenestration industry has experienced in the past decade or two.  Plus, most ‘builder quality’ windows are not typically the best product available when the home was built, but were chosen because they were low cost and met the minimum code requirements.  This isn’t because the builder was trying to take a shortcut, but because the reality is that most purchasers will not pay more for a new home because it was built with better components.  The buyer is not typically knowledgeable enough to determine performance quality and assumes that if a home is ‘built to code’ it has the best available.  Not so, unfortunately, but that can be the topic of another blog post perhaps.

So, if you have older windows in your home, or your home was built in the Lower Mainland 20 years ago or more, chances are your windows are far less energy efficient than current products.  The difference in year-round comfort provided by utilizing the latest glazing, frame, and sealing technology is dramatic.  The reduction in carbon emissions is also impressive:  more carbon is pumped into our atmosphere in Canada by heating than comes from all the cars on the road.  Unlike a leaky roof, the decision to change windows is perhaps more subtle.  That said, new windows can do far more to keep you cool in the hot summer months and warm in the winter.