Which win­dow is the right choice?

Many home­own­ers won­der, but there’s no easy an­swer

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES - Ry yike nolmes

WIN­DOWS serve three pur­poses: They pro­vide light, air­flow and ven­ti­la­tion. But they should also help keep the heat out in the sum­mer and in dur­ing the winter. That has to do with R-value — in other words, in­su­la­tion — and the air-tight­ness around the win­dow it­self.

Ev­ery win­dow leaks heat. You can have the best win­dows on the mar­ket — triple-paned, dou­ble low-E coat­ings — but they will not have the same in­su­la­tion value as an in­su­lated wood or con­crete wall. No mat­ter how ther­mally ef­fi­cient the win­dow is the R-value can’t be as high.

The trend today is to in­crease the size of your win­dows, not to men­tion the num­ber of win­dows in a home. Peo­ple love nat­u­ral light. But at the same time we need to make sure the win­dows are im­prov­ing the house — not work­ing against it.

Heat loss and gain through win­dows ac­counts for about half of our heat­ing and cool­ing needs. A poorly in­stalled and/or in­su­lated win­dow is like hav­ing a giant hole in your home’s ex­te­rior — and you will see the proof in your en­ergy bills.

When it comes to win­dow choice, there are sev­eral op­tions, which can be over­whelm­ing for some home­own­ers.

It used to be that all you could get were sin­gle-paned win­dows — those are win­dows that have just one sheet of glass. Now you can get win­dows that are dou­ble- or triple-paned, win­dows with ar­gon or kryp­ton gas, low-E coat­ings in be­tween the panes — and dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of each, like low-E dou­ble-paned win­dows or low-E triple-paned win­dows with ar­gon gas.

What’s the dif­fer­ence? For starters, dou­ble-paned win­dow has two lay­ers of glass; triple-paned has three. Mul­ti­ple lay­ers of glass al­low for in­su­la­tion to go in be­tween the panes, and that boosts up the R-value.

The most com­mon types of in­su­la­tion are ar­gon or kryp­ton gas. Both help stop heat trans­fer. Kryp­ton in­su­lates bet­ter than ar­gon but it’s also more ex­pen­sive. If you have the bud­get it’s a good in­vest­ment. But ar­gon gas filled win­dows are still very good. If a home has ar­gon-gas-filled win­dows, I wouldn’t be dis­ap­pointed.

If you’re not the orig­i­nal owner of your home, you might not know if your win­dows are gas filled. When you bought the house the pre­vi­ous own­ers would have prob­a­bly told you, since they do make for bet­ter win­dows and cost more. But if you want to make sure you can check the win­dow tag. It’s usu­ally on the bot­tom in­side track of the win­dow.

You can also try look­ing for two small holes on the spacer — one hole is where the gas would have been in­jected, and the other hole is for air to exit.

An­other fea­ture to look for is low-E glass, or low-emis­siv­ity glass. This is a mi­cro­scopic metal­lic-ox­ide coat­ing on the glass that lets in light but also helps stop heat — and ul­tra­vi­o­let rays — from trans­fer­ring through the win­dow.

Some­times heat trans­fer is a good thing. In the winter, we want the sun to help heat our homes. But I’ve heard some home­own­ers com­plain about turn­ing up their fur­nace more of­ten af­ter in­stalling triple-paned win­dows. That’s be­cause some win­dows do an ex­cel­lent job at stop­ping heat trans­fer. But just like they help stop heat from es­cap­ing your home, they also don’t let the nat­u­ral heat from the sun come in.

One op­tion is to have triple-paned win­dows on the north side of the house only, and then dou­ble-pane on rest. This pro­vides the ex­tra in­su­la­tion needed to help block north winds, but still al­lows some heat to get in on all the other sides. It’s a tricky bal­ance, which is why you should talk to a pro.

Once you’ve de­cided on the type of glass you want, you have to choose the fram­ing. The most com­mon are wood, metal — and vinyl, which tends to last longer and is eas­ier to clean. Metal can get scratched and dented. Wood is nice but re­quires a lot of main­te­nance; you will need to re­paint your win­dows at least ev­ery five years, and that’s if it’s done re­ally well. The nat­u­ral ex­pan­sion and con­trac­tion of the wood frame can crack the paint. The ba­sic rule of thumb is that if you can see the wood, the frame needs to be re-caulked and re-painted.

What type of win­dow is the best? Most peo­ple want an easy an­swer. But like most things, there is no easy an­swer. It de­pends on the house and the ap­pli­ca­tion. The key is find­ing a pro­fes­sional who will know what type of win­dows will work best for your home, and who’ll make sure they are prop­erly in­stalled.

Catch Mike Holmes in an all-new sea­son of Holmes Makes It Right, Tues­days at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit hgtv.ca. For more in­for­ma­tion on home ren­o­va­tions, visit makeitright.ca.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.