FAQs – ENERGY STAR® Fenestration Products
- Why should I buy ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors or skylights?
- Why should I be concerned about climate change?
- How much money can I expect to save by installing ENERGY STAR qualified fenestration products?
- How will I know if I need new windows, doors or skylights?
- How will I know if a window, door or skylight is ENERGY STAR qualified?
- How does the climate zone system work?
- Why were special criteria developed for Canada?
- How does a window, door or skylight qualify for ENERGY STAR?
- Are ENERGY STAR qualified products more expensive to purchase than conventional windows, doors and skylights?
- What if I find a fenestration product with an ENERGY STAR label that does not show information for the Canadian climate zones?
- I am having a new home built – how can I make sure it has energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights?
- What if I can't find an ENERGY STAR qualified fenestration product?
- How should I handle installation?
- Where can I get more information on energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights?
- As a manufacturer or dealer, how can I participate in the ENERGY STAR program for fenestration products?
- What are the benefits of participation for manufacturers?
1. Why should I buy ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors or skylights?
- Windows, doors and skylights – collectively known as fenestration products – are a major source of heat loss in Canadian homes. Fenestration products that qualify for the ENERGY STAR mark have been independently tested and certified to be among the most energy-efficient on the market, so installing them in your home will reduce your energy consumption and save you money. But there’s more: energy-efficient windows will also increase your comfort, cut down noise levels from outside the home, have less condensation in cold weather than standard products, and allow fewer ultraviolet rays to pass through glazed areas, thus better protecting your valuables from sun damage. Last but certainly not least, by reducing your home’s energy consumption, ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors and skylights also reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change.
2. Why should I be concerned about climate change?
- Climate change is a serious environmental problem that could have significant consequences for our health, our economy and our children’s future. All Canadians contribute to the problem, and we all need to be part of the solution. Making smart energy choices around the home – including installing ENERGY STAR qualified fenestration products – is a great way to start.
3. How much money can I expect to save by installing ENERGY STAR qualified fenestration products?
- Homeowners who replace all of their old windows and doors with ENERGY STAR qualified products will typically save about 7 percent on their energy bills, depending on the number of windows and doors replaced, how old they are, and how much air leakage was occurring. Buyers of new homes with ENERGY STAR qualified fenestration products can save up to 12 percent on their energy bills compared to standard products (the savings tend to be greater for new homes because they are typically larger and have more windows and doors than older homes).
4. How will I know if I need new windows, doors or skylights?
- Unusually high energy bills, uncomfortable drafts around doors and windows, and frost on your windows on cold winter days are among the clues that fenestration products may be in need of repair or replacement.
5. How will I know if a window, door or skylight is ENERGY STAR qualified?
- It’s easy – just look for the familiar ENERGY STAR mark on the product or in the manufacturer’s literature. If the map on the ENERGY STAR label indicates that the product is qualified in the Canadian climate zone where you live, you’ve found a winner! To maximize your long-term energy and cost savings, consider purchasing a product that is ENERGY STAR qualified for a colder climate zone than where you live. This strategy is especially recommended if you live in a location that is significantly higher in elevation than the surrounding area, such as in southern and central British Columbia.
6. How does the climate zone system work?
- Canada has been divided into four climate zones based on an average annual temperature indicator called a heating degree day (HDD). The higher the HDD value, the colder a location and the longer the heating season. As the climate zones become progressively colder, fenestration products must meet increasingly rigorous performance requirements to qualify for ENERGY STAR. This means that a window, door or skylight that is ENERGY STAR qualified in Zone A – the mildest region in Canada – may not be qualified in Zone D, the coldest. That’s why it’s important to make sure the product you choose is ENERGY STAR qualified in the climate zone where you live.
7. Why were special criteria developed for Canada?
- ENERGY STAR criteria for windows, doors and skylights have been in effect in the United States for some time now. However, since the expected performance of these products is based on climate, and Canada’s climate varies significantly from region to region and compared to much of the U.S., it was determined that unique Canadian requirements were warranted. The initial Canadian ENERGY STAR criteria covered windows and sliding glass doors and came into effect on April 1, 2004. In April 2005, the ENERGY STAR criteria for these products were strengthened and additional criteria were implemented for entry doors and skylights.
8. How does a window, door or skylight qualify for ENERGY STAR?
- To qualify for the ENERGY STAR mark, fenestration products must meet strict technical requirements for both thermal and structural performance. Products are qualified based on either their U-value (rate of heat transfer from a warm area to a cold area) or their Energy Rating (a scale that takes into account a product’s U-value, potential solar gain and airtightness). The colder the climate zone, the more stringent the requirements. Windows, doors and skylights must also have good airtightness to qualify for ENERGY STAR. To ensure the integrity of the ENERGY STAR mark, all product testing is done by accredited laboratories under standardized, quality-controlled conditions.
9. Are ENERGY STAR qualified products more expensive to purchase than conventional windows, doors and skylights?
- Not necessarily – and where there is a cost premium, the money you save in energy bills will more than repay the extra cost, often very quickly. Excellent products are available at competitive prices, so shop around. Whether you’re building a new home or replacing existing windows, doors or skylights as part of a renovation project, it’s a good idea to select the most energy-efficient products you can reasonably afford. Low-priced, poor-quality models can end up costing you a lot more money in the long-term through higher energy bills, and can also lower the resale value of your home. And don’t forget the non-monetary benefits of energy-efficient windows, including increased comfort and reduced condensation and noise penetration.
10. What if I find a fenestration product with an ENERGY STAR label that does not show information for the Canadian climate zones?
- This may be a product that qualifies for ENERGY STAR in the United States but not necessarily in Canada. Remember, specific ENERGY STAR criteria have been developed for Canada’s climate, which tends to be colder in winter than most parts of the U.S. A fenestration product that does not show the Canadian climate zones may not qualify for ENERGY STAR where you live.
11. I am having a new home built – how can I make sure it has energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights?
- Make it clear to the builder that you want top-quality, energy-efficient products installed in your new home. The ENERGY STAR Web site includes a list of qualified windows and sliding glass doors (qualified entry doors and skylights will be posted soon), as well as participating manufacturers and dealers. If the products specified by your builder are not on this list, ask for a cost estimate to upgrade to ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors and skylights.
12. What if I can't find an ENERGY STAR qualified fenestration product?
- Look for products that have the features of a typical ENERGY STAR qualified fenestration product. For windows, patio doors and skylights, look for products that have double- or triple-glazing in a sealed unit; low-E coatings; an inert gas fill; low-conductivity spacers; insulated frames and sashes; and a high Energy Rating or low U-value. For entry doors, look for units that have insulated cores; wood, vinyl or thermally broken metal frames; good-quality weatherstripping; maintenance-free framing materials; a high Energy Rating or a low U-value; and a minimum of double-glazing in glass inserts with a low-E coating. Note: only ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors and skylights qualify for a grant under the ecoENERGY Retrofit program.
13. How should I handle installation?
- Installation of windows, doors and skylights is best left to a professional. A poorly installed fenestration product may not operate properly and could cause cold drafts, even if the product itself is energy efficient. Poor installation may also allow water to leak into the wall cavity, leading to costly damage. Most manufacturers offer installation services or can recommend a properly trained installer. A good way to ensure a quality installation is to find an installer who has been certified by the Window Wise program, which conducts comprehensive training seminars for installers.
14. Where can I get more information on energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights?
- More information is available in the OEE’s publication on energy-efficient fenestration products or fact sheet about ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors and skylights. As well, “Sill to Sash,” a consumer video guide to buying energy efficient windows and doors, is available on the Web site of the Canadian Window and Door Manufacturers Association.
15. As a manufacturer or dealer, how can I participate in the ENERGY STAR program for fenestration products?
- Manufacturers and dealers who want to actively promote ENERGY STAR qualified products must sign an Administrative Arrangement with Natural Resources Canada (there is no cost to register as an ENERGY STAR participant). As well, manufacturers must have their products independently tested to ensure that they meet the ENERGY STAR technical specifications. More information for manufacturers is available on the ENERGY STAR Web site or by contacting ENERGY STAR directly.
16. What are the benefits of participation for manufacturers?
- Participating in the ENERGY STAR program can give manufacturers of fenestration products a competitive advantage, particularly in the renovation market, where the demand for new windows, doors and skylights is strong. Canadian consumers are increasingly looking for the ENERGY STAR mark when purchasing everything from home electronics and kitchen appliances to heating equipment and computers. The internationally recognized ENERGY STAR symbol can draw attention to your advertising and other promotions and assure consumers about the quality and performance of your qualified products. Your company name and qualified products will be listed on the ENERGY STAR Web site, and you may be able to participate in joint marketing and promotional campaigns or take advantage of training workshops.
The ENERGY STAR name and symbol are administered and promoted in Canada by Natural Resources Canada and are registered in Canada by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.