Oh Canada. Cue scenes of picturesque snowfalls, frozen lakes, and gorgeous mountaintops. Although beautiful, Canadian winters can make staying warm feel like a full-time job. So how do you make your home a well-insulated winter refuge? With the right windows! Good windows will keep the cold air out of your home, so you won’t need to crank the heat (and foot the bill that goes with it).
And finding the best windows for Canadian winters just got easier. Keep reading to discover if you need new windows this winter and what features to look out for.
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Browse this Content:
- Why Are the Right Windows So Important in Canada?
- Do You Need New Windows This Winter? Check for These Signs.
- What Features Go Into the Best Windows?
- Get New Windows Installed, Even in the Middle of Winter
Why Are the Right Windows So Important in Canada?
The right windows will allow you to enjoy comfortable indoor air temperatures (no matter what the outdoor temperature is!) and save money. When you rely less on your heating and air conditioning to regulate your home temperature, you aren’t paying for extra energy. Since windows can account for up to 25% of the total heat loss in a home, you could be saving a quarter on your monthly energy bills with the right winter windows.
Do You Need New Windows This Winter? Check for These Signs.
1. Examine The Weatherstripping & Caulking
A weatherstrip is a strip of material (looks like tape) that seals window openings to keep weather conditions outside.
Caulk is a substance used to seal tiny gaps in windows to prevent air leakage. The product package usually looks like a giant glue gun.
TIP: These are quick, easy, and affordable fixes. If either are in bad shape, just replace them ahead of the winter.
2. Test Overall Ease Of Use
Check that your windows operate with ease. Specifically test out the cranks, handles, and latches. If you are straining to open and close your windows, they may not close securely and have a good enough seal for winter.
TIP: Consider window repair or replacement.
3. Check Out Your Frames
Older window frames can warp with the fluctuation in seasonal temperatures and deteriorate over time. So inspect the condition of your window frames, especially the corners and joints.
TIP: If the frames are in poor condition, you’ll need to update them to prevent air leaks in winter.
4. Monitor Condensation on Windows
Condensation on the inside or outside of your windows is normal, and there’s nothing to worry about. However, if you have condensation inside of the window panes, it’s another story.
TIP: Read our dedicated article about condensation on windows for more information.
If your windows aren’t going to hold up this winter, it’s time to start shopping for new ones. Here are the features you’ll want to consider when trying to find the best windows for Canadian winters.
What Features Go Into the Best Windows for Canadian Winters?
1. Durable and Efficient Frames
High quality frames prevent air from leaking in and out, so you won’t have to overheat the house to compensate for lost warm air.
The most common window frame materials are either:
Vinyl PVC Window Frames: These are a popular choice. They are affordable upfront, highly thermally efficient, and can be welded to make an air-and water-tight seal. However, these frames lack strength, rigidity, and durability and are susceptible to expansion and contraction in the heat of Canadian summers and winters.
Aluminum Window Frames: Aluminum is a very strong, durable window frame material. Because of its strength, aluminum frames can be thinner than vinyl frames without sacrificing strength. However, aluminum windows have a very high thermal conductivity, meaning that heat transfers very easily through the material.
Both of these materials really weren’t designed for the extreme temperatures of Canadian winters. That’s why more Canadian homeowners are seeking out a hybrid option.
Hybrid Frames: Bring together the strengths of both vinyl and aluminum window frames while accommodating for each of their weaknesses. The result is a top-of-the-line option with:
- A rock-solid frame constructed from anodized aluminum and galvanized steel
- An outer surface of specially formulated and patented U-PVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride)
- The long-lasting strength and support of galvanized steel and aluminum
- A durable and efficient vinyl frame that won’t expand and contract
- A cost-effective, high-performance window frame material that we guarantee will last 40 years or more
2. Proper Glass
Quality glass also prevents heat from escaping through your window panes.
So what makes for quality glass? Here are some of the factors to consider:
- Number of panes: Windows with two or three glass panes have more layers, which result in reduced energy loss and better insulation.
- Low-E (emissivity) glass: Low-E coatings are transparent coatings added to the glass panes that regulate the passage of solar radiation through the window’s glass. This coating is effective while also not compromising the light flow through the windows.
- Gas fills: The space between the window’s glass units are filled with krypton, argon, or xenon gas. These heavier, noble gases work to impede the transfer of heat through a window compared to a standard air fill.
3. Quality Sealing
Changing weather causes expansion and contraction within the window, leading to seal failure and major insulation issues over time. Luckily, warm edge spacers are an effective solution that insulates the edges of the window unit and keeps the glass panes firmly apart from each other. These spacers add structural stability and mitigate the stress that comes with thermal expansion and contraction in different weather conditions. By expanding and contracting at the same rate as the insulated glass unit, they help to prevent any gas from escaping and the window’s seal from failing.
4. Enhanced Natural Light & Heat
Both natural light and heat from the sun are in a shorter supply during the winter months. As a result, it helps to have windows that help you take maximum advantage of both.
Visible Transmittance (VT) is the energy efficiency metric that determines how well a window permits the flow of natural light into a home.
There are a few factors that can prevent your windows from maximizing the natural light transmittance during the winter months, including:
1. Triple-Glazed Windows: Refers to a window with three panes of glass within the frame. While they can improve other energy efficiency metrics such as U-Factor, triple-glazed windows do create more tint which will impede visible transmittance and result in less natural light.
TRY FINDING custom-formulated windows that can ensure that your window glass suits your home’s unique needs and preferences — from glass types and glazings to gas fills and coatings.
2. Big, Bulky Frames: A typical mullion (i.e. the frame that separates panels of glass in multi-sash windows) for hollow vinyl frames is usually six inches wide. The wider the frame, the less glass and natural light you’re getting.
TRY FINDING the thinnest frames possible to let in more natural light. 3 inches wide or under is what you should aim for.
3. Fixed Insect Screens: Fixed, immovable insect screens block up to 50% of the natural light that flows into your home. Plus they collect dirt, dust, and allergens over time (ew).
TRY FINDING retractable insect screens and blinds that can disappear when they are not needed.
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Get New Windows Installed, Even in the Middle of Winter
Getting windows designed for cold winters can have one of the biggest impacts in keeping you warm during those snowy months.
With 40 years experience and over 50,000 installations of high-performance windows, we at Magic Window can confidently speak to what goes into the best windows for cold weather.
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We install new replacement windows year round in Ontario – even in the winter. So there’s no time like the present to start winter-proofing your house!