Can new windows and doors help you save energy and money?

January 29, 2020

Exterior view of a house

Updated April 15, 2024

When you want to improve your home's comfort, appearance and energy efficiency, few upgrades have the transformative power of new windows and exterior doors. Whether you’re tired of drafts sneaking in during the chilly winters or you want to update your home's aesthetic appeal, replacing your old, worn-out windows and doors is a worthwhile investment.

Why are window and door upgrades important?

Beyond the obvious benefits of improved aesthetics and enhanced curb appeal, upgrading your windows and doors can have a profound impact:

  • Increased energy efficiency: Older windows and doors are generally less efficient, allowing your heat to escape outside during the winter and your cool air to seep out during the summer. By installing energy-efficient windows and doors, you can reduce the amount of heating and cooling needed for your home, lower your energy bills and reduce your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Enhanced comfort: Drafty windows and doors can create uncomfortable hot or cold spots in your home, making it challenging to maintain a consistent temperature. New, well-insulated windows and doors can help regulate indoor temperatures, providing a more comfortable living environment year-round.
  • Reduced noise: Do you live in a busy neighborhood or near a bustling street? Upgrading to windows and doors with soundproofing features can help minimize outside noise.
  • Improved security: Modern windows and doors often come equipped with advanced locking mechanisms and reinforced materials, providing greater peace of mind.

Read about one couple on a renovation mission in Kelowna, and how new windows for their 80s house made a difference inside and out.

Rebates frog looking through open window

Rebates make the decision to upgrade easier

We’ve got rebates to help with the cost of upgrading your windows and doors. All our rebates are designed to help you offset the extra cost between a standard item and an energy-efficient one. We want you to be more comfortable and use less energy, saving you money and reducing your GHG emissions. But before you start shopping and applying for rebates, let’s give you the information you need to make the best purchasing decisions.

Close-up of a manufacturer’s label on a window

Getting technical: What do I need to know about windows?

Here are some technical aspects of windows (and glass on exterior doors) you should be familiar with:

  • U-Factor: A measure of a window's insulation efficiency. The lower the U-factor, the better the insulation. FortisBC rebates are for windows and doors with a U-factor of 1.22 or less.
  • Energy Rating (ER): used to compare the energy performance of windows in colder temperatures, it evaluates heat lost through the window and heat coming inside from the sun. A higher ER indicates a more energy-efficient product.
  • Glazing: Refers to the glass used in windows. Double-glazed and triple-glazed windows are good choices for their superior insulation properties, but they have wider frames and heavier glass, and are not available in some larger sizes.
  • Low-E coating: A thin, virtually invisible coating applied to window glass to reduce heat transfer and minimize UV radiation while still allowing natural light to enter.
  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): Indicates the amount of solar radiation that enters through a window. Opting for windows with a lower SHGC can help reduce cooling costs in the summer.

Which types of window frames and door materials are best for my home?

That depends on your budget, the climate you live in, the kind of maintenance you want to deal with, and of course, the appearance you’re after. If you live in a particularly rainy area (hello Vancouver Islanders and West Coasters) consider whether some of your windows and exterior doors have moderate or high exposure to rain and talk to your window/door retailer or installation contractor about the best options. Here are some common materials to consider:

  • Wood: Classic look, good insulation, customizable. Requires regular maintenance, may be prone to warping and decay.
  • Vinyl: Durable, low-maintenance, good insulation. Can expand and contract with hot and cold temperatures.
  • Aluminum: Strong, corrosion-resistant, minimal maintenance. May increase heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.
  • Fiberglass: Durable, great insulation, minimal maintenance. May be more costly than other options.

Before: Single-pane windows like these could be costing you, and making your home less comfortable.

After: These new high efficiency windows will help keep heat in during the winter and keep it out during the summer.

Before: Inefficient windows can make temperature control more difficult, and cause your energy bills to increase.

After: This new window lets in more light, while helping to keep energy bills lower.

Before: These single-pane doors were letting a lot of heat and cold pass through them.

After: The new doors help keep the home cosy, and are much more energy efficient.

What are the most important things to look for when buying windows and doors?

Naturally, you’ll be looking for windows and doors that complement your home's architectural style and personal taste. Consider these factors as well to maximize your return on investment:

  • High energy efficiency: Look for products with ENERGY STAR® certification, U-factor, ER and SHGC ratings, and doors with high-quality weather stripping and insulated cores.
  • Quality and durability: Invest in well-constructed windows and doors made from high-quality materials to ensure longevity and performance.
  • Warranty: Ensure that your windows and doors come with a comprehensive warranty that covers both product defects and installation.
  • Safety and security: Look for windows and doors with robust locking systems, reinforced frames, and impact-resistant glass for enhanced security. Consider door features like deadbolts, multi-point locking systems, and smart lock compatibility for added peace of mind. For bedrooms, you’ll need windows that allow you to escape in the event of a fire.
  • Sound insulation: If noise reduction is a concern, look for windows and doors with soundproofing features such as insulated cores, dual-pane glass, and weatherstripping to minimize noise transmission.
  • Accessibility: For individuals with mobility challenges, choose doors with wider openings, low thresholds, and easy-to-operate handles or levers.

Can I install my own windows and doors?

We highly recommend hiring a Home Performance Contractor Network member with experience in installing energy-efficient products—proper installation is crucial for maximizing the energy efficiency and performance of your new windows and doors. In fact, to be eligible for FortisBC’s window and door rebates, they must be installed by a licensed contractor with a GST number and a valid B.C. business license.

What FortisBC rebates are available for windows and doors?

You could get a rebate of $100 per eligible window or door, up to $2,000 total! Review all the eligibility requirements and terms and conditions.

Plus, when you install windows and/or doors with a minimum rebate value of $250 and make an additional bonus-eligible Home Renovation Rebate upgrade you could qualify for our $300 two-upgrade bonus.

Once you’ve selected your rebate-eligible windows and/or doors and had them installed by a licensed contractor, apply online for your rebate (you have up to six months from your invoice date to apply). Keep in mind, you’ll need to include a scanned copy of all detailed invoices (see an invoice example here) from the window manufacturer/installer, and a photo of each installed item’s manufacturer’s label, like this one:

You can see more sample labels here.

More resources for window and door information:

Note: FortisBC recommends that all energy-efficiency renovations be undertaken in consultation with and by trained and experienced contractors. FortisBC will not be responsible for your use of the information contained in or linked from these webpages.


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