Thinking about installing new windows? There's much to consider


Most people want to buy new windows only once. It’s a big deal. And it’s not a small expense.

But new windows and doors will make an enormous difference to the comfort, appearance and resale value of a home or business, not to mention the energy cost savings over time and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

As we head into winter, Sustainable Orillia’s current focus is on reducing emissions at home, or why and how we can make our existing homes more emission-free.

Homes of the future will reduce energy needs to a minimum, producing annually as much energy as they consume (“net-zero”). Why wait for the future, when we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our homes now, while we also gain cleaner air, higher resale value and energy savings at the same time?

Reports indicate that homes and buildings are the largest source of GHG emissions in Ontario today, accounting for more than half of total emissions. Approximately 60 per cent of building emissions are attributed to residential buildings including single-family homes, and 40 per cent to commercial and institutional buildings.

Emissions come from the use of fossil fuels, primarily natural gas, to heat space and water.

Perhaps because Orillians have discretionary time and are saving money during the pandemic, many are investing in retrofits — in window and door replacements in particular — according to Mark Burns of Orillia Glass & Mirror.

“We’re pretty busy — as busy as ever or even busier,” says Burns. “It’s a really interesting time. Although many people are staying home and wanting to improve their homes, there are serious product supply issues and material shortages.

"We’re placing orders and booking window and door installations for new homes, renovations, and retrofits into the spring of 2022. Other glass products like showers and mirrors are quicker," he said.

Thinking about installing new windows? There's much to consider

In addition to lead times, says Burns, “the first things some customers ask about are cost and warranty. They want something low-maintenance, functional and uncomplicated. How do the windows open? How easy are they to clean? For others, efficiency is the first thing they ask about. The good news is that every window we sell is pretty efficient. We’ll never install a single pane window in a house, except in an uninsulated space.”

New windows or doors are normally custom-made. Burns advises customers to look first at the “look” they want — colour, size and style — then upgrade as they can afford for greater efficiency.

However, just as important as the product is the installation. Windows and doors must be insulated and sealed properly to do their job efficiently. And this varies in different scenarios. Windows are generally evaluated by U-value (a measure of efficiency — the thermal resistance). But if they aren’t installed properly, says Burns, that number doesn’t mean much.

His advice is to start with their base vinyl model. It gives the best “bang for your buck” — a great product at an affordable price, and better than an off-the-shelf product from a box store.

“Then,” says Burns, “you can add in a colour painted exterior, triple pane glass and other features.” Orillia Glass & Mirror recommends and sells Canadian-made products from KV Custom Windows and Doors in Vaughan and Lepage Millwork in Quebec.

There are government incentives that can substantially reduce the cost of window and door retrofits. Begin with a government-approved auditor who does a preliminary inspection.

Orillia Glass & Mirror gives free estimates, and can do installations in stages. While most people prefer to do their retrofits in warmer weather, Orillia Glass installs through the winter. Burns is already taking installation orders for the spring.

“Things are taking longer than normal with material shortages,” he says. “It might take three to four months to get product and materials. We hope it will get better soon.”

Don’t we all!

For more information on home retrofits, see Sustainable Orillia’s website at https://sustainableorillia.ca/whats-happening-overview-of-retrofit-activity-across-orillia

For more information on windows and doors: Mark at Orillia Glass & Mirror 705 325-5441mark@orilliaglass.com