I specified triple-pane, air-tight, insulated-frame windows in my house to save energy. I love them. But after living with them for three years, energy-saving is the last reason I would recommend you use them in your house.
My windows have surprised me in ways I could not have imagined. Yes, they save energy (and money), but the qualitative benefits they deliver are something that have helped me love my home.
The intangible benefits of good windows are difficult to explain, but I will try by sharing the unforeseen surprises they have given me as recently as last week.
Note: Not all triple-pane windows are equal. Performance of the glass in your windows is important, but performance of the window frames is actually more important when it comes to comfort impacts. That is why we specify windows that are certified by the Passive House institute. This ensures that the entire window unit, including the frames, has met stringent air-tightness and insulation standards that ensure there will be no drafts or cold spots.
Surprise #1: Energy = Comfort
Insulation value of the glass (the statistic most commonly touted by window manufacturers) is irrelevant if the frames are thermally conductive and leaky. When I sit beside my windows in the dead of winter, I cannot feel drafts or “radiant cold” of any kind. I could not believe it until I felt it.
Even on the coldest days of the year, the inside face of my windows are 18°C. That is the same surface temperature as the walls in most houses!
Whether you live in an urban area where rooms are small and we are forced to put living areas near windows, or you live in the country and want to connect your indoor spaces with nature, we always need to live near our windows. Good windows allow you to do this comfortably.
Surprise #2: Peace and Quiet
My bedroom is 40’ from a street with 24hr traffic, but I can barely hear it when I am falling asleep. And that is a shocking difference, because I used to live in the house next door, and the traffic noise was enough to keep me awake at night.
The white noise of Toronto is etched into my brain. I do not even notice it – until I go home. The stark silence of a quiet home makes me realize how noisy other houses and buildings are, and the wellness benefits have helped me unwind and improved my quality of sleep. The feeling of quiet is not something I appreciated until I could experience it, and now it is something I cannot live without.
Surprise #3: Security
I live in a great, friendly neighbourhood. But it is still Toronto.
Recently I was gardening, and I found a very nice DSLR camera in one of my garden beds. After some inquiries, I learned that some houses nearby had been broken into. I was able to find the owner of the camera and return it to them.
They told me that a burglar used a crow bar to very simply break the latch of their sliding door, enter their home, and take their laptops and camera. …while they were asleep in the house!
I quickly assessed my family’s safety. Do we need an alarm system? Do we need cameras? Should I buy a dog that might fend burglars instead of our current Airedale who would likely befriend the burglars, assist them with the theft, then leave us to start a new life with her new burglar family?
No! Not only are our windows passively heating the home, they are passively defending it too. Multi-latch mechanisms (standard on Passive House Certified windows) create at least half a dozen locking points around the perimeter of the frame, and their extra-thick glass and frames make them extremely resilient to tampering. These same features also ensure exceptional lifespan.
We can source exceptional windows with similar budgets and timeframes to lesser windows. They are a no-brainer upgrade that will undoubtedly improve the quality and comfort of your home. I will always use them when I renovate houses for my family.
Come by for a tour so you can see and feel them for yourself!