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When it comes to your home, one of the most important but oft-overlooked areas to take care of are your windows. They can be a point of strength or weakness, yielding major physical effects on other structural elements of your house. This is an investment you want to make.
 
Though updating your windows can be costly, there are programs (for qualifying homeowners) through Efficiency Nova Scotia to shoulder some of that cost, and in the long-run, quality windows will save you a shocking amount of money when it comes to regulating the temperature of your home, and protecting it from the elements, time, and even intruders. Windows also play a surprisingly important role in the resale value of your property—this is an investment you will get your money back on.
 
Types of Windows
The two most common types of window in Nova Scotia are the casement and the slider. The casement is when the whole window opens (sort of like a mini-door to let fresh air in). Because you can fling the casement open completely or have it just a few inches open, you have maximum control over how much air comes in or out. These windows are considered the most energy efficient when it comes to air seepage from the casement. Compression seal technology means when you close a casement window, it’s such a snug fit that almost no heat or air is escaping from it.
 
Casement Crank Article1

Slider windows are when you slide a panel to open them. Available in both single and double sliders (where one or two panels can be opened), these are best-suited to openings that are wider than they are tall. Sliders are easy to clean and offer great unobstructed views of the world outside as they are large panels of glass. The double slider is more energy efficient as it adds an additional layer between the home you’re paying to heat and the cold Nova Scotia outdoors.
 
Because sliders have to have enough space between parts for you to slide the panels, they are not as air-tight when closed as a casement window, and therefore are considered the less energy-efficient of the two. There are Energy Star Rated slider windows available, though.
Both window options are made with locks to help keep your home secure.
 
The U-Factor
Non-solar heat flow is caused by the temperature difference between the environment outside and your home inside. When it’s cold outside, this is when more non-solar heat will flow out of your home and into the chilly outdoors. This is because the temperature difference between inside your cozy house and outside in that Nova Scotia winter tend to be more drastic than the temperature difference between the two during the summer. The U-factor gauges the rate of this warm air flow through your window. You want this number to be low—ideally no more than 0.60. The lower this number, the better your window insulates.
 
The R-Value
The R-Value measures how much heat is retained by your window (on both the outside and inside of your home) and is shown as a number. The higher the number, the better the retention levels and quality of your window. You want this value to be 3 or higher, with 5 being the ideal. Basically, this is measuring how much of the warm air you’re paying for in the winter is being kept inside of your home and how much of the hot air you want to avoid in the summer is being kept out.
 
Glazing
Glazing is the glass portion of your window. Though in and of itself a single piece of glass cannot offer any real insulation, manufacturers have developed glazing options that help with the thermal energy efficiency of a window. Single-pane windows used to be the only option many moons ago; however, they offer no insulation and cost you huge sums of money by raising your home heating and cooling bills. Double pane gives you an exterior pane of glass, a layer of gas, and then an interior pane of glass—think of it as a glazing sandwich.
 
This is much more effective at keeping good air in and bad air out. Better still are the triple glazed windows, which offer an additional gas/glass layer sealed into the window frame. In addition to the insulation benefits of glazing, this also offers you stronger, more sound-resistant windows. It’s much harder to break double glazed windows versus single pane, and usually results in a great deal of loud noise, so your home has an extra level of protection against intruders. It also helps keep noise pollution out, which is a nice benefit.
 
Cross section

Low-E Coatings
Think of a low-e coating as a mirror for heat. It’s a microscopically thin metallic oxide coating on your window glass (it’s essentially invisible to the naked eye), or alternatively to a thin plastic film that is inserted between the glass panes. When it’s cold outside, the Low-E coating reflects the heat coming from your home to the window back in your home, while in the summer it reflects the sun’s heat back outside instead of allowing it into your house.
 
Your Window Has Gas (if you’re smart)
It used to be just air that would be between windowpanes, but manufacturers have recognized that there are gases that offer better insulation. For only a few extra dollars to the price of your window, you can have the space between panes filled with gases such as argon, krypton or carbon dioxide depending on the manufacturer. The gas does not seep out, and it helps your windows maintain the desired temperature of your home. This option is most effective when combined with Low-E coating.
 
Paid to Update
Why not have Efficiency Nova Scotia help you pay to make your home less costly to run? If you qualify to participate in their Home Energy Assessment Rebate Program, you can include windows as a Smart Upgrade to add-on. They measure the windows by pre-existing rough openings (i.e. a large bay window with multiple units will yield one rebate), but each one qualifies for a rebate of up to $40.00. The program itself allows you to take advantage of up to $5,000.00 in rebates or $25,000.00 in low-interest financing, so if your home needs some updates, you’ll definitely want to explore how Efficiency Nova Scotia can help you with those.
 
There are lots of details to consider when choosing your new windows. Remember, this is an occasion where the cost is proportional to the quality and value of what you’re purchasing. Good windows will save you money on things like your heating bill, and will drastically increase your asking price when you’re selling your house—they definitely offer a high return on your investment.
 
 

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.