Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years you’ve probably heard about energy ratings on things like doors, windows and appliances. You’ve probably also wondered how these ratings are calculated and who does the calculations. By far the most popular energy rating service in the country – and indeed the world – is Energy Star. In this post we’ll tell you a little about Energy Star, how energy ratings are determined and how to choose the right Energy Star doors and windows.
Assigning Energy Ratings to Windows and Doors
Windows and doors don’t use energy themselves but they are responsible for much of the heat loss in a typical home. Because of the pivotal role they play in the energy use cycle they’re assigned Energy Star ratings based on their insulation value. But what the heck is Energy Star?
- Energy Star – Energy Star began as an initiative of the US Consumer Protection Agency in 1992. Since then the system has been refined and adopted by many other countries, including Canada. Today, Energy Star Canada is administered by Natural Resources Canada. Energy Star’s mission is to provide information that helps consumers find the most energy efficient products that fit their needs and budget.
Choosing the right Energy Star Doors and Windows
Energy Star Canada publishes energy efficiency ratings for a slew of products including appliances large and small, computers and peripherals and building materials such as windows and doors. More goes into an Energy Star rating than simple energy consumption though, including:
- Geographical location – Energy Star Canada divides the country up into 3 climate zones. This is important because.
- The zone for which a door or window is considered Energy Star rated will be displayed on the label.
- If you buy replacement windows rated for a warmer zone you may find they don’t work very well in your zone.
- If you live at a high elevation you’ll want windows and doors rated for at least 1 zone colder than your base zone.
- U-value – The U-value measures the ability of a material to transfer thermal energy. A low U-value means the window or door is not good at conducting heat and will therefore have good insulation qualities.
- Energy Rating (ER) – The ER rating is another way to look at a product’s insulation value. It looks at 3 aspects of window performance: solar heat gain, heat loss through the frame or glazing and heat lost by leaking air. It can be confusing because whereas a low U-value means good insulation abilities, a high ER means good insulation abilities.
- In addition – Energy Star windows and doors will typically allow you to save more than 10% on your energy bills. In some cases significantly more. Better insulation also means less street noise invading the house, fewer drafts, greater comfort and less condensation on windows.
It should be noted that Energy Star is not an arm of, or sponsored by, any particular corporation. Nor does it make a profit from the propagation of its stickers. Scores of companies ‘partner’ with the Energy Star program but all products seeking the Energy Star label must be tested by independent 3rd party labs to ensure integrity of the process.
If you’re seeking high quality Energy Star certified windows and doors for your home you need look no further than Toronto Doors and Windows. All our doors and windows are Energy Star certified and installed by the most experienced technicians in the industry. If you have more questions about energy ratings, or would like to discuss the installation of new energy efficient doors and windows in your home call us and talk to one of our window and door experts.