What is ENERGY STAR?
- ENERGY STAR is a government backed organization that identifies the most energy efficient products in a variety of industries, such as the window replacement industry.
Which products are allowed to display the ENERGY STAR symbol?
- In any given industry, only the top 15 to 30 percent of products, in terms of energy efficiency, meet the rigorous standards held by ENERGY STAR. In the window industry, if a product displays the ENERGY STAR symbol, it means that said product has surpassed set standards based upon a heat-loss test, and/or an air leakage test in conjunction with an analysis of the benefit of potential solar gain. Put more simply, if a product loses heat at a slow rate, minimizes air leakage, and has a high potential for solar gains, the purchaser of this product will likely enjoy savings as a result of lower energy bills.
How does a product become ENERGY STAR certified?
- In the window industry specifically, a company must have its windows tested by an accredited third party in order to receive consideration for ENERGY STAR certification.
How can a customer know that a product is legitimately ENERGY STAR certified?
- Any product that is legitimately ENERGY STAR certified will be listed on the Natural Resources Canada website, in the ENERGY STAR section.
Can companies’ find loopholes in the accreditation process?
- Because there are two forms of testing that must be conducted (physical and thermal, as explained in the next answer), if an accredited testing party does not perform both of these tests in-house, there may be room for deceit. For example, a window producer may submit window ‘x’ to a physical testing centre. If window ‘x’ passes the physical test, the window producer can take that window back to the factory and make changes to the window before submitting it to the thermal testing centre. If that window passes the thermal testing, it will become ENERGY STAR certified, even though it was tampered with throughout the testing process.
How can I be sure that a product was not tampered with throughout the ENERGY STAR accreditation process?
- A customer should only buy ENERGY STAR certified products that are certified by reputable accredited third parties that conduct regular audits and test products in-house using several different methods. CSA Group is a company that meets these specifications. CSA Group conducts two types of tests in-house to determine the energy efficiency of windows: physical and thermal tests. Physical tests require hands-on air, water, and structural evaluations, whereas thermal tests are completed by technological simulation. By conducting both of these tests internally, and auditing regularly, CSA Group has become one of the most reputable and reliable organizations in its field.
Does ENERGY STAR ever update its criteria?
- On February 1, 2015, ENERGY STAR updated its evaluative criteria for the window industry, causing the number of ENERGY STAR certified window products to decrease by approximately 54%. Clera Windows + Doors safely survived this drastic cut.
What is the difference between a window’s U-factor and Energy Rating (ER)?
- The U-factor is the rate at which a window loses heat – the lower the number, the slower the heat loss. The ER is a formula that includes the U-factor (heat loss), air leakage, and the benefit of potential solar gains – the higher the value, the higher the potential for energy savings.
What does Low-E glass have to do with a window’s U-factor and Energy Rating (ER)?
- Low-E glass means a special coating is applied to the glass in order to improve energy efficiency. Windows installed in Canada should normally have a low U-factor coupled with a very high solar heat gain co-efficient. This combines solar heat gain with insulating properties for year-round energy savings.