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Windows & Doors

Energy-Efficient Windows is a Hot Topic


In most areas of Canada having energy-efficient windows is not only important in saving energy in the home it also mandated in the building codes. In Nova Scotia, the minimum requirement for windows in new home construction is "Low E and Argon," meaning that the panes of glass have an, invisible reflective coating to keep heat inside the home and the space between the panes is filled with a heavy, argon gas.

The "McMansion" is Dead

During the building booms of the 1990's and the first eight years of the New Millennium the dream of many people who wanted a new home constructed was to build it bigger. This meant that the large, 3,000 square-foot dream home of the 1970's had grown to 5,000 square feet or more. Many of these homes were so large they needed two furnaces to provide heat.

Skyrocketing energy costs during the last five years slowed this trend and then the economic meltdown in the United States sobered up the new home building and renovation industries in Canada. People and governments were coming to grips with the fact that the days of cheap energy were over. Homes that were once heated for $2,000 a year in 1990 were now seeing power and fuel bills surpass the $5,000 mark. This hike in energy costs could be handled in the short term but months have now rolled into years and, with paychecks being frozen or lightened, homeowners began realizing that smart energy savings was the only path.

Glass and Metal

One of the biggest sucks in energy is the window system of a home. A normal home built in the 1960's with 4" walls has an R-value of 15. The R-value is the resistance of a material to heat flow and the higher the R-value the better the blockage of thermal energy across the surface. Here is a breakdown of windows across the spectrum of thermal efficiency:

  • Single pane = R 1
  • Dual pane = R 2
  • Dual pane with Low E only = R 3
  • Dual pane with Low-E and Argon gas filling = R 4
  • Triple pane with Low-E and Argon gas filling = R 6

It is plain to see that the only job that the old single pane-glass performed was to keep out wind and the elements. Like sheet metal these surfaces literally vacuumed the heat from any room. In fact, the old movies showed beautiful frosting on the interior of the glass as water vapour froze.

Up until just a couple of years ago the strategy for insulating against the cold was to provide a thermal rating of at least R-20 in the walls and R-40 in the attic. During the past few years the requirement for the building of new homes has pushed these figures much higher depending on what part of the country the home is being built.

Dual Panes Are Also Losing Heat

There are three ways that dual pane-glass are not good insulators:

1. Solid glass conducts the cold: Unlike foam or even plastic glass conducts heat and cold almost as well as metal. One of the laws of thermodynamics states that heat does not want to exist naturally and so is drawn to the cold. This is why a home can have cold spots near windows because and heat is neutralized by the cold glass surface.

2. Ordinary dual-paned glass is not a good insulator: The dead air area between the glass panes offers some insulation but only by a margin of R-1, making a dual-pane window R-2 as compared with R-15 to R-24 for the wall. This is because of another property of thermodynamics called convection. Like a miniature weather system the cold outer pane and warmer inner glass causes the air in the space between them to circulate in a convection current. This action helps the movement of warm air from the home to the cold outside.

3. Window spacers in most windows are metal: The panes of glass are held in place by spacers and most companies use aluminum, as it is light and strong. However, aluminum speeds up the transference of cold even with foam-filled vinyl sashes.

Window Manufacturers Overcome Deficiencies

The companies that make windows have made great strides in the design that make them more efficient.

1. Low Emissivity Coatings: Heat can be retained in a home by reflecting it away from the glass and back into the home. A protective, transparent, metallic coating on the glass not only performs this job but in the summer can prevent excess heat from entering the home.

2. Gas-Filled Spaces: Window manufacturers are also filling the air space between the panes with heavy gases like argon, krypton and xenon. Not only are these gases not as conductive as plain air or nitrogen they slow or stop the convection currents that promote heat loss.

3. Foam-Plastic Spacers: Conduction of cold through the frame causes condensation and mould and promotes seal failure. Having a foam-plastic spacer stops thermal transfer and also moves with the panes during expansion and contraction or heavy pressure from winds.

4. Vinyl Window Frames


Wood and metal still have a market in high-end homes where aesthetics are very important. However, the positive attributes of vinyl window construction makes this type of material both cost-effective and energy-efficient.


Make an Impression With Design Tips for Exterior Door Replacement


Often the very first thing a visitor sees up close, the front door is your home’s chance to make a first impression. Installing a new exterior door can create the look you want for your home, whether that’s a grand welcome or a low-key modern hello. There are materials and styles to suit any tastes and this home improvement has a few other hidden benefits to offer as well.

What Type of Front Door Will You Choose?

From materials to styles and features, there is a vast selection of front doors available for installation. Check out a reputable manufacturer of solid wood exterior doors for the latest designs in this classic style. Carved with intricate designs or plain and sturdy, wooden doors are still the favorite of many homeowners and deliver big character with little investment.

There are also vinyl doors available in a few different colors and styles, from paneled types to those with windows. Vinyl is lighter than wood and is low maintenance, but it can’t match the character and charm that wood delivers. Composite products, on the other hand, get very close to the look and feel of wood while still delivering the durability and maintenance levels of vinyl. Think about which material will look best on your front door.

Arched For Classic Style

Arches are a different kind of classic style. Naturally grand and impressive, especially in the door itself, arched shapes make a front or back door seem more open and welcoming.

Create an arch using windows and you have the added bonus of natural light filtering into your home. Some vinyl manufacturers carry doors that have been formed as an arch and come with special arched frames, but this technology is fairly new and could be expensive.

Front door surrounds are another way to create an arch or any another distinct shape. These additions add depth and profile to your front door and may be the perfect place to display your address or a family crest. Made from wood, composites, vinyl or even stone products, front door surrounds make your door stand out in a whole new way.

Added Security For the Exterior

Replacing your exterior front doors means you will have a chance to upgrade your current level of security. A new door may be more solid or just simply offer a better design for locking mechanisms. Be sure that any window inserts are made with double paned glass for better security and have the door fitted and installed by a professional contractor to ensure it is tight. Improperly installed exterior doors are just a break in waiting to happen.


Replace your existing exterior door for an updated look or better security features. Think about the type of material that will suit your home best and consider whether an arched shape would dress up the space. Front door surrounds and windows can enhance a standard door and there are so many designs and styles on the market to choose from. Exterior doors are often the first thing people see – let your home make a good first impression by upgrading today.


Why Double Glazed Windows Are the Best Choice for Replacement Windows


Upgrading your existing windows to improve energy efficiencies is a wise idea. Double glazed windows are the best choice on the market right now for replacement windows. The design and characteristics of the leading models will help you to save on energy costs and provide a more comfortable home all year round.
How Do Double Glazed Windows Work?

Unlike single pane windows, double glazed include a variety of elements to create the highest efficiencies. Along with the two glass panes that are spaced around 16mm apart, these windows often have gases such as argon or krypton to fill the gap and create better insulation.

Low emissivity or Low-E windows include a layer of metal oxide on the internal pane. This thin and clear layer will allow sunlight to enter the home, but also blocks heat from escaping outside thus reducing the burden on your furnace.

The best double glazed windows on the market are those with both a Low-E coating and the gas between the panes. This design offers the most protection and insulation against heat loss, improving the efficiency of your home significantly.

Quiet Days and Nights

Double glazed windows also offer better protection against obtrusive noise. This can become a major issue for some homes, especially on the side of the house that faces the street. If a bedroom or home office is equipped with double glazed windows it will be quieter, even in high noise areas, than those with another type.
The air space between the two panes not only insulates against heat transfer, it also blocks sound from passing through and muffles loud noises noticeably. When combined with heavy drapes, this product will help create a quiet space in your home.

Are Triple Glazed Windows Better?

Triple glazed windows are now making their way onto the market. Using the same principle, triple glazed have three panes of glass instead of two to add insulation against heat loss. These windows might also use gas between the panes and a Low-E coating to improve the efficiency levels.

Many window retailers will tell you that, as it stands today a high quality double glazed window offers similar protection and efficiencies as a triple glazed window will. Since the newer product costs significantly more than double glazed, it is generally recommended that homeowners opt for the double glazed to capture the insulation against heat and noise while staying within budget.

Where Are the Best Replacements Made?

It’s important that all of the old single pane windows in your home be replaced. Replacement windows add value to your home both in resale and for daily living. By starting in your living space and working your way around the house each window in the house can be replaced without needing to come up with large amounts of money for the project.


Double glazed windows will create an energy efficient environment in your home. Cut down your energy usage, save money on utility bills and be more comfortable all year long with this style of replacement windows. They are certainly worth the investment.