Most Canadians are familiar with the old joke about how their country only has two seasons, winter and construction. Canadians enjoy this joke because it carries a kernel of truth: most of the year, the weather is far to cold and unpredictable to undertake major building projects, so all the repairs need to be packed into the summer months. This is true of everything from government-managed road works to private home improvements, and it is an important fact to bear in mind when it comes to improving energy efficiency in the home.
In the winter, most homeowners can tell where their houses are losing heat, because poorly insulated areas tend to be significantly colder. Because the last thing most people want to do in February is install new windows and doors, however, they simply turn up the thermostat or try to counter the insulation gaps with incredibly inefficient electric space heaters. By the time spring rolls around and an upgrade would be more feasible, the weather has become warmer and the insulation issues are less noticeable. This can lead to a cycle of inefficiency in which the problem gets ignored during the months in which it could be fixed, and by the time it manifests itself again the weather is too bad to do anything about it.
Breaking out of this cycle requires homeowners to think strategically about what improvements they need to make to their homes before the cold weather sets in again. Summer is an ideal time to improve a home’s energy efficiency because it is possible to upgrade things like windows and doors — which, if they are not properly insulated, can be huge drivers of inefficiency and waste — without having to temporarily relocate from your home.
If you want to end the cycle of inefficiency and get some replacement windows and doors that will keep the heat in come winter, there are a few things you should remember. First, not all windows are created equal, and some are much more efficient than others. If you are upgrading your windows with efficiency in mind, make sure to invest in high quality vinyl windows that have the Energy Star seal. Second, be sure to have your new windows professionally measure and installed. A high quality window can only deliver premium protection and insulation if it is snug with the frame of the house and allows no gaps for cold air to get in around the frame. Finally, make sure you only purchase windows that have a comprehensive and transferable lifetime warranty.
When it is hot and sunny and the cottage beckons, the last thing most of us want to think about is how cold it’s going to be in a few months. But the best way to make sure that winter doesn’t spring any nasty surprises is to plan any upgrades you might need to make long before autumn arrives, and arrange for home improvements like new windows to be installed while the weather is still nice. Once February comes around again, you’ll be glad you did.