How to Choose the Right Energy-Efficient Windows and Frames


Your home’s energy efficiency has never been more important, as bills continue to rise and the impact of wastefulness on the environment becomes clearer. While installing energy-efficient furnaces and appliances is a great start in reducing your footprint, the benefits will be squandered if your home is badly insulated and lets energy go to waste.

Replacing your windows with more energy-efficient models is a great way to improve insulation and save energy, but what does this mean in practice? Here are the main options to consider when planning a window replacement project.

1) Type of Glazing

The days of single-pane glazing are largely over, with virtually all modern windows featuring two or three layers of glass to reduce heat transfer. Switching to double glazing offers a dramatic efficiency improvement by itself, reducing heat loss by up to 80% compared to single glazing.

The improvement given by triple glazing is on a slightly smaller scale but can still reduce heat transfer by a further 30% over double glazing, which can make a significant difference to your energy costs in a particularly hot or cold climate.

2) Glass Coatings

Whether you choose double- or triple-glazed windows, there are a couple of treatments you can use to reduce heat transfer even more. Most often, these treatments are done when the windows are manufactured, but in some cases can also be applied to existing windows as a cost-effective alternative to full replacement.

  • Low-Emission Coatings: Low-emission coatings are added to one or more layers of glazing to block heat transfer between the panes. Although they add to a window’s cost, low-emission coatings can prevent between a third and a half of the energy loss of regular double glazing, which over a window’s lifetime can recoup most of the extra expense.
  • Spectrally Sensitive Coatings: A special type of low-emission coating is available for hotter climates where it’s often more important to keep heat out of your home than to prevent it from escaping. These treatments are known as spectrally sensitive coatings, and they allow regular sunlight through while stopping the infrared rays that heat up your home. Depending on the formulation, these coatings can block up to 70% of heat radiation without reducing visible light at all.

3) Frame Materials

It’s not just the glazing that decides a window’s efficiency. The frames also have a major impact, depending mainly on the kind of material they’re constructed from.

  • Metal: Metal frames are commonly made of aluminum and combine strength, durability, and low weight to make them a good choice for long-lasting frames. However, metal conducts heat very easily, making metal frames one of the worst choices for energy efficiency.
  • Wood: Wood is a much better insulator than metal, but it needs careful maintenance to prevent warping, rotting, and other kinds of degradation over time.
  • Composite: Composite frames are made from layers of wood products mixed with polymers and are as good as wood or better for insulation. They’re also stronger and more weatherproof, making maintenance less of an issue.
  • Fibreglass: Fibreglass is strong, light, and an excellent insulator, but also relatively expensive to install.
  • Vinyl or PVC: Vinyl window frames are strong, waterproof, and resistant to sunlight, giving them high durability along with good insulation levels. What’s more, they’re also economical to install, making them a popular choice for all-round cost and efficiency benefits.

4) Opening Type

Energy efficiency also involves a balance between how easily the windows open and how tightly they seal when closed. A properly installed fixed window is fully airtight for maximum efficiency but doesn’t allow any ventilation or provide an exit route in an emergency. Other window types offer varying combinations of convenience and insulation, with the most common including:

  • Side-hinged single windows press firmly against the frame when closed, keeping air transfer to a minimum for high insulation.
  • Sliding windows rest more gently against the frame to allow sideways or upward movement, and heat transfer is higher as a result.
  • Casement window frames with two or more opening windows can have an insulation weak point where the windows meet, potentially letting heat escape more easily.

5) Expert Installation

Lastly, the best materials and design count for little if the windows aren’t correctly installed, and this means hiring a contractor you can rely on. We can help you find a recommended home improvement contractor to ensure your windows provide the full energy-efficiency improvements they’re capable of.

If you’re ready to install new energy-efficient windows, our freerenovation calculator will give you a firm idea of how much your project will cost. And if you need a little help with the financing side of things, our affordable home improvement loans can put a high-end window replacement within easier reach of your budget. Give us a call at 1.833.527.1149 to get started today!

You May Also Like

7 Major Home Renovation Mistakes to Avoid


Any major home renovation will be a costly exercise, but the expense can quickly spiral out of control if the project isn't carefully planned and competently carried out. The first step toward achieving home renovation success is to avoid these seven common planning mistakes that can greatly increase the cost and hassle of any project,…

7 Tips to Easily Renovate Your Bathroom on a Budget


A bathroom renovation can make a huge difference in your home, but it can also be an expensive home improvement project to take on if you’re not careful. Because of the potentially high cost, many people delay upgrading their bathroom and miss out on all the extra comforts and convenience that a remodel can provide.…

6 Ways to Personalize Your Kitchen Renovation


If you're planning a kitchen renovation, there are countless design ideas available online to use as inspiration. Using a pre-existing design is a great way to save money on your kitchen renovation. However, your kitchen should be an expression of your tastes and personality, so relying too much on someone else's ideas can lead to…