Open the Window on Energy $avings
With summer only just around the corner, can the revving of air conditioners be far behind? Thanks to rising temperatures and the increasing demand for air conditioning, our peak demand for energy has shifted to the summer months. With energy costs continuing to rise, and concerns over climate change growing, energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important. While we all want to spend less on home utilities, most of us don't know where to begin.
The answer is clear. In the average home, heating and cooling costs account for at least 60 percent of your energy bill. An estimated 25 percent of all heat loss literally flies out the window, thanks to old, builder's quality or ill-fitting windows.
From an energy saving perspective, standard thermal pane windows only provide an insulating R-value of between 1.6 and 2. The R-value of a window measures its resistance to heat flow. This can also be referred to as thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.
Another way to measure energy efficiency is by gauging the shading co-efficient of your windows. This measures a window’s ability to let light in while rejecting heat.
Depending on your budget, there are a number of ways that you can improve the efficiency of your windows. You can recoup about half the heat loss in older windows by sealing the cracks and crevices with caulking and weatherstripping.
If you already have blinds on your windows, use them on hot summer days. Drawing blinds in the morning, as soon as the sun begins to shine, can dramatically reduce your need for air conditioning.
While we usually try to keep the heat out in the summer, it’s important not to overlook the benefit of passive cooling strategies. After the sun goes down and the temperature drops in the evening, an open window can provide a cooling breeze as well as fresh air, and the wonderful smell of summer flowers and fresh cut lawns.
Depending on what coverings you choose, upgrading your window treatments can triple the R-value of your windows while enhancing the beauty of your home. This can cut your heating costs in the winter, and substantially reduce your cooling costs in the summer.
Selecting the right window covering can also help protect you from the damaging effects of the sun. The newest generation of window coverings can cut ultra-violet (UV) radiation from 65 to 99%. This protects your furniture, hardwood flooring and carpets from sun damage and fading. Choosing the right window fashions can also provide you with privacy and sound absorption when you need it, and a window on the world when you want it.
To complete your window treatments, window tinting and security films, retractable and fixed or exterior awnings are all great ways to enhance the beauty of your home, reduce UV radiation and cut heating and cooling costs.
If you really want to get serious about reducing your energy bill, you may want to consider replacing your existing windows. Thanks to improvements in window design and construction, the newest generation of energy efficient windows offers R-values of 4.5 to nearly 12.
Through the Office of Energy Efficiency’s ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program, homeowners can receive up to $ 5,000 in grants to help offset the cost of replacing windows and other energy efficiency improvements. The grant is based on the effectiveness of the upgrades, not just the cost. In order to quality, homeowners must first have a home energy audit completed by a certified evaluator.
There’s more good news. Homeowners participating in the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program are also eligible to receive the federal Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC).
For more information on the Office of Energy Efficiency and the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes programs, to go www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca.
The Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) applies to eligible expenditures of more than $1,000, but not more than $10,000, for a maximum credit of $1,350.
The Ontario Home Energy Savings Program will pay half of your pre-retrofit audit, up to $150.
To find a reputable contractor to do your work, visit the Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada.