Whether you are or aren’t considering a window replacement this year, chances are you have already been bombarded by advertising and fliers from different window manufacturers in Edmonton and local window companies. You will notice that all of these companies seem to offer the best product and highest quality window installation, at the lowest price.
But in reality, not all things are made equal. And despite what project consultants may tell you, just like window companies, some windows are better than others. And comparing them doesn’t have to be a smoke and mirrors game, as long as you know who manufactured the product (not all window companies in Edmonton manufacture their own windows).
In today’s post, we’ll look at ways to compare windows and ensure that you know exactly what you are getting.
Regardless of the window style you’re getting, there are two things to consider when shopping for new windows:
- The windows you get should be tested by, and adhere to CSA standards.
- For maximum comfort and efficiency, the windows you get should be rated by ENERGY STAR to meet your local climate zone criteria.
Because both, Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and ENERGY STAR use similar testing criteria for evaluating windows, most of the time if a window is good enough to qualify for one standard, it will also qualify for the other. Rarely a window manufacturer sells ENERGY STAR qualified windows, that don’t meet the CSA standard.
This information is publically available and you can check most window companies on these sites:
Check out ENERGY STAR rated window companies here
Find out which windows in Canada meet CSA standards
Understanding CSA standards for comparing windows
As a Canadian window consumer, the windows you get should be certified by the CSA – A440 standard. The Canadian Standards association has laid out specific guidelines for window performance in these categories:
- positive design pressure, where applicable;
- negative design pressure, where applicable;
- water penetration test pressure; and
- air infiltration and exfiltration level.
Sometimes you will see windows with ABC ratings. For example, a window that is rated A3, B6, C4 is more efficient and better performing than a window that is rated A3, B6, C2.
A sure way to recognize whether windows are CSA certified is to look at the labeling. Certified windows will have a CSA logo on the glazing and leave the warehouse with a CSA label that outlines the window’s performance scores in the four categories mentioned above. But if you look at the picture below, you’ll see that the ratings provided on the label, aren’t the same as the ones used by CSA.
Although the CSA-A440 is the minimum standard all windows installed in Canada should comply to, different windows have their own unique Energy Ratings (ER).Energy Ratings are a more simplified and harmonized way to understand and compare window performance.
Understanding ENERGY RATINGS when comparing Edmonton windows
A window’s ER rating is calculated on three factors: solar heat gains, heat loss through frames, spacers and glass, and air leakage heat loss. ER ratings range between 0-50. A higher ER rating means a window is more efficient.
In some ways, the ER is a balance between heat loss ratings (U-Factor) and solar heat gains through the window (SHGC).
U-Factor is a measure of how much heat a window loses. Traditionally window performance was often judged by the R-value of the materials used, but modern windows often use different materials with different R-values, so it is not accurate to measure these values in relation the window as a whole. The lower the U-Value, the less heat is lost through the whole window. Some of the best thermal windows on the market achieve a U-Value of 1 or slightly lower.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) is a fraction of how much UV heat is allowed to pass through the glass into your home. SHGC can range from 0 to 1, but the higher the coefficient, the more heat your windows gain from the sun. SHGC also has a direct effect on the energy rating of a window. It only makes sense: a window that allows more heat in, is technically more efficient because it, in turn, requires less energy to keep the home warm.
However, the efficiency of modern vinyl windows is relatively high to a point where windows with higher SHGC ratings can actually overheat rooms even in the winter time. This is especially true for unshaded windows facing south or west, and in homes with high window to wall ratio.
Although it is meant only for comparison purposes, the ER number is still a good indicator of the effect windows will have on your annual heating costs. The lower the number, the more heat is lost and the harder the heating system has to work in colder weather.
ENERGY STAR also uses the ER number to rate whether a window can be considered efficient in different climate regions in Canada.
In order to be considered efficient in Edmonton, windows must have a minimum ER number of 29 and a maximum U-Factor of 1.40
Importance of proper window installation in Edmonton
One thing we didn’t get into in this post is window installation. While “how” your windows will be installed may not be important when comparing the quality of the actual product, you should know that correct installation accounts for half of the success of your window replacement. Even the best replacement windows can lose heat if they are not installed properly. Consider window manufacturers in Edmonton that have good reviews about their installation services along with their product ratings.
Check out these window replacement articles:
UPVC Windows Edmonton: Should You Get Double Or Triple Pane Windows
Egress Windows Edmonton: Everything You Need To know
Window Prices in Edmonton