• Home Envelope
  • Home Improvement

Are "U" sure about that?

By The Foreman Household

Wow!  During the home envelope challenge, we have not only learned that some of our windows have huge gaps which are allowing air (AND money) to seep through, but we have also learned that it’s time to let most of our windows go, as they are showing other signs of needing replaced!

When replacing your windows it is critical to have correct measurements.  This took us a hot minute to get straight because each window contractor was measuring differently.  So we decided to go with a private contractor that has a connection with a local supplier.  We then took off all the casings and measured the rough opening!  Crucial step, so that our windows fit when they arrive!  

But…and again, there’s a but.  But then, you must decide what type of windows to buy.  Sliders, single hung, casement, etc.  All new terms for me, but I found this guide from BC Housing Research Centre helpful: https://www.bchousing.org/publications/Consumer-Guide-Window-Door-Replacement.pdf 

And then there’s you!  No not you, U! 

The U-factor. 

The U what?  The U-factor is a measurement of the rate of heat loss.  The lower the U factor, the slower the heat loss. 

So…just like Ramone on CARS, you want your windows to be “LOW and SLOW”.  

Wait!  There’s more!  Windows can also be measured by their ER rating.   The ER rating is a formula that takes into account winter heating and includes the U-factor, air leakage and the benefit of potential solar gain.  ER ratings rank between 0-50, with the higher the rating, the more efficient the window.  The more efficient the window, the higher the potential energy savings!  

Previously Canada was divided into zones for determining the windows and ratings needed depending on the climate zone.  Canada is now considered ONE zone with one common U-factor criteria for windows and doors (and an alternate ER criteria).  If you happen to have any old manufacturer stickers on your windows with a differently coloured zone map like we do, then that serves as a good clue that your windows do not meet the newest energy efficiency standards.  

Different U-factors and ER ratings can also mean different federal rebates!  Energy Star Certified windows classify as a U-factor of 1.22 (or lower) or ER of 34 (or higher) resulting in a $125 federal Canada Greener Homes grant per rough opening.  Energy Star Most Efficient Windows classify as a U-factor of 1.05 (or lower) or an ER of 40 (or higher) and qualify for a $250 federal grant per rough opening!  Considering the return of both federal and provincial grants on different windows, was definitely a factor when choosing our new windows!

Oh and speaking of rebates.  Remember those stickers I mentioned.  Do not forget to LEAVE THE STICKERS ON THE WINDOWS until your post-audit.  The advisor will need to verify the stickers in order for you to receive the grant.  

Speaking of stickers, I’m sure we still have some CARS stickers hanging around!  Our oldest was a big fan!  Although it’s been a while since we watched the movie.

Hey Kids!  Get the popcorn ready!  I feel like watching CARS!

Written by The Foreman Household

Read more of their stories as they vie with the other seven households to reduce their carbon footprint.

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