Replacement Windows 101: Options, Energy Efficiency and Cost by Ecoline Windows



With so many new products being introduced in the home improvement market every day, it can be both confusing and intimidating to attempt a project. Replacement windows are no different.

As experts at educating Canadian homeowners, Ecoline Windows understands the struggle and provides valuable insights on difference in window materials, energy efficiency options and window price range by room.

As you begin to do window replacement research and look for what options are available, you’ll find a daunting number of materials, styles, finishes, efficiencies and costs. To be sure you choose the best products for your personal needs, whether you do the work yourself or hire a professional replacement window company, you’ll want to understand your choices.

The following comprehensive guide will provide important details to help you identify your window problems, increase your knowledge and provide solutions:

Window Materials



Even though wood may be the most common material for windows, it’s not the only option you should consider. Read through the window material comparison to see what’s new on the market and why what’s being offered is or is not a good fit for your home.


As a natural resource, this offers a strong, durable material that will provide many years of use. It is environmentally sustainable and easily fabricated to form windows of all shapes and sizes.

It provides excellent insulation, can be painted or stained, and excellent curb appeal.

There are some drawbacks to wood windows. They are more expensive than other materials, require regular maintenance and are susceptible to decay, mold and mildew.


Wood-clad windows provide the best of both worlds by covering the wood with extruded aluminum, vinyl or fiberglass. While this process makes these replacement windows the most expensive of all styles, the added benefits of low maintenance and high weather resistance make them an excellent choice.

In addition, the exterior cladding can be found in a variety of colour coatings or painted. Wood remains inside for staining or painting to match your decor. Energy-efficient, triple-pane glass can be fitted for savings on your heating and cooling bills.

Moisture can penetrate the cladding through unsealed edges and rot the wood underneath. As the windows age, you’ll want to re-caulk gaps that have opened due to expansion and contraction.


Replacement windows made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are becoming more accepted as a Canadian standard due to their affordability, energy efficiency and durability.

This material requires little maintenance; a quick hose-down will keep your vinyl replacement windows looking good for years. Welded seams prevent air and water infiltration and some frames are filled with foam to improve insulation value.

While more exterior colour selections are available than in the past, the interior vinyl cannot be painted or stained to match your decor. Beware of inferior vinyl products or poor installation as it can be easily damaged. Vinyl windows are only available in standard styles, so customization to match traditional architectural designs is limited. It will expand and contract with temperature changes, so watch for broken glazing seals.


Low-cost, low-maintenance aluminum is still a popular material choice for replacement windows. It provides both strength and durability, available in anodized or baked-on finishes, and is warp-resistant. Its light-weight and narrow frames can be customized to fit unique requirements.

A definite disadvantage of aluminum replacement windows is it conducts (loses) heat and cold easily and is prone to condensation. While it requires little exterior maintenance, it can be susceptible to corrosion, especially if exposed to salt water or air.


Made from glass fibers and resin, fiberglass looks like wood but doesn’t require the same maintenance. New technologies in fabrication mean more options are available to match traditional exterior designs. It’s paintable (inside and out) and is UV-resistant.

Fiberglass is an excellent choice for its resistance to rotting, warping and swelling. It’s extremely strong and works well for bow, bay and picture windows that require large pieces of glass. It’s the best insulator of all window materials and expands and contracts with varying temperatures to maintain a high level of energy efficiency.

These benefits come at a price, however, as fiberglass windows cost approximately 25-percent more than vinyl windows.

Energy Efficiency



It’s not enough for windows to just look good. Today’s Canadian homeowners require their replacement windows to also be energy efficient. To keep up with every-changing technologies, window manufacturers are offering a variety of products designed to improve comfort while saving money.

Double and Triple Pane

High-quality glass panes are needed to provide adequate thermo-insulation. Double- or triple-pane units are necessary in frigid prairie climates to reduce air infiltration and increase comfort. For areas that experience prolonged periods of cold temperatures, triple-pane windows use stronger frames and hardware for improved durability and performance.

Low-Emissive Coatings

While the main reason for installing windows is to allow natural sunlight in, with close to 75-percent of the window area being glass, it will also let heat out. To counteract this, Low-E-coated glass provides an invisible shield against heat loss and UV damage. This helps minimize energy costs while protecting furniture from fading all year long. It’s a perfect option for a family room or children’s reading area.

Argon or Krypton Gas

Both Argon and Krypton gases conduct up to 50-percent less heat than air. When injected between the glass of a triple-pane window, you are protected from cold temperatures, heat loss and condensation. This greatly improves energy efficiency and gives you lower utility bills.

Glass Spacer

High-quality windows also include a steel, metal or foam spacer between the layers of glass. This helps to separate the layers of glass for better a better seal and insulation. They also help to reduce condensation inside.




As with any home improvement, deciding when and how to replace your windows can be an expensive prospect. You’ll want to avoid making mistakes such as choosing the lowest-priced product or even doing the work yourself to save money. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” definitely applies to replacement windows, so carefully examining all your options before making a decision will yield the best outcome.

There are three factors that impact the cost of replacement windows:

  1. Installation Type
  • Retrofit Installation—old windows are removed and new windows are placed into existing frames. The window jambs are left in-tact and aluminum capping will cover the existing brickmould. This is the least-expensive method of window replacement, but it does not address any structural defects or decay.
  • Full-frame Installation—this provides a complete tear-out of the old windows, jambs, exterior brickmoulds and interior trim and replacement of all new components. While this is a more expensive option, it is much more thorough and allows for inspection and correction of any moisture or rotting issues. This installation method costs approximately 10- to 15-percent more than the retrofit method.
  1. Window Style, Material and Size

Prices vary depending on the style, material and size of window you require.

  • Crank—casement or awning style. These swing away from the frame with a crank mechanism and use a compression seal to create an airtight fit. These can be used as a single or several units mulled together.
  • Sliding—hung or horizontal. These operate by hand and slide up and down or side-to-side within the frame. They use weatherstripping to seal the unit when closed. Double-hung units typically swing open for easy cleaning. These can also be used as a single or several units mulled together.
  • Bay, Bow or Picture—consist of a fixed window with operable double-hung or casement windows on either side. The center window is generally large and may require a stronger frame material that will add to the cost.
  • Custom—unique shapes and sizes. Custom windows will cost more due to the exclusive specifications needed.
  • Double- or Triple-Pane—extra panes of glass cost more. Triple-pane styles also include heavier hardware and frames.
  1. Efficiency and Aesthetic Features

You will increase the cost of your replacement windows by adding efficiency features such as Low-E coating, Argon or Krypton gas, and window spacers. However, the energy savings you’ll obtain with these features will offset the cost in lower utility bills.

Any aesthetic upgrades that vary from the standard window selections will add to the cost of your windows. Special colours/finishes, grills, custom trim, privacy or security glass can all increase your budget.

Average price ranges are:

  • Living room—between $1,800 and $3,000.
  • Bedroom or Kitchen—between $800 and $1,600.
  • Bay or Bow window—between $2,800 and $4,500.
  • Basement—between $450 and $800.
  • Patio door—between $1,500 and $2,000.

As you can see, there are many things that go into determining what type of window replacement is right for your needs and budget. Keep in mind that an on-site inspection will be required by a contractor to provide the best options and estimate for your particular project.

By balancing energy-efficient components with durable, aesthetically pleasing materials, your replacement windows will provide a cost-effective solution to your home improvement project that will last for many years.

Purrfect Properties Note: CREDIT OWED: Thank you Serge for your fantastic article and the ease of which you branded it to our interests.  You’ve been such a great help with our content and website as well as our understanding of the bloggers world.  We look forwards to learning more from you and sharing it with our fans!

Guest Contributor – Serge Bojinski

Serge Bojinski - - Guest Contributor Credit

Serge Bojinski – Guest Contributor Credit

Home improvement and renovation enthusiast with content marketing background. Editor at Active contributor to real estate and home improvement experts. Healthy lifestyle advocate. Adventurous person with great attitude towards life and people. Connect with him on Twitter @SBojinski