Understanding Energy Efficiency

Where performance really counts for your windows

With the impending depletion of fossil fuels and increasing impact of climate change, it’s more crucial than ever to understand what energy efficiency means and implement it in our everyday lives – beginning with housing. An energy efficient home is built on a thorough understanding of the “house as system” principle and is designed to keep in the maximum amount of heat during winter, but keep out the maximum amount of heat in summer. Apart from helping the environment, this cuts down heavily on your power bills and results in a more comfortable home for you.

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Canadian housing codes employ both the ENERGY STAR and EnerGuide symbols to measure the energy efficiency of your home, whether it’s an old build or a new one. You can find out more about this on the Natural Resources website.

ENERGY STAR Homes

You’ve probably seen the blue ENERGY STAR icon on a wide range of products and household appliances, and might be wondering what it has to do with homes. ENERGY STAR has grown into an internationally recognized and trusted brand wherever energy efficiency is concerned – and since 2005, energy efficient new builds are eligible for an ENERGY STAR rating.

But What About Older Houses?

Older builds can be evaluated using the EnerGuide rating system to determine their energy efficiency, after which necessary renovations can be carried out to bring them up to current standards. The key factors to making older houses energy efficient are replacement windows and doors – especially important in Edmonton which falls in ENERGY STAR’s climate zone C, the second coldest in Canada. The Natural Resources website has an useful guide to these climate zones.

An useful rule of thumb to determining how energy efficient a window or door is would be to see how many climate zones it qualifies for – the greater the number, the more energy efficient the product is.

Decoding the ENERGY STAR performance markers

ENERGY STAR labels usually come with a set of performance markers which might seem like arcane symbols if you’re not familiar with them. Here’s a handy guide to decoding the ENERGY STAR label on your windows and doors.

U-Factor

The U-Factor is a measurement of the amount of energy a material can conduct. For windows, the lower the U-Factor, the more it will resist heat loss. This means bigger savings for you on your energy bill.

Solar Heat Gain

The Solar Heat Gain coefficient is a measurement of the amount of solar radiation transmitted through a given material. A lower Solar Heat Gain coefficient means that your windows will absorb more ultraviolet (UV) rays. This might seem counterproductive, but it’s fantastic for saving on summer heating bills.

Air Leakage

An Air Leakage rating measures the amount of air that passes through cracks in your window, usually in the casing. A lower air leakage rating is good, because air tightness is what you’re aiming for with an energy efficient window. Poorly designed or constructed units tend to get fogged because of air leakage. We prevent this by never mass manufacturing our products, and instead custom constructing our windows and doors to fit your unique needs.

Energy Rating

The final Energy Rating is calculated by measuring all these factors, and a higher number indicates better performance.