Save money by getting windows in the winter!

Most people think that installing windows in the winter is insane!  Putting holes in my house in the middle of winter is going to cost me a fortune in heating bills!  The reality is that installing windows in the winter is not all that bad.  Installers don’t remove all the windows and then install all the windows.  They work from one room to the next.  The actual time that there is a hole in the wall is a very short time.

In the winter Winter Manufacturer’s are not busy.  You can throw a bowling ball down the factory floor and not hit anyone!  As a result Installers are not busy!








Sliders X’s and O’s


Buying slider windows can be demystifying.  What do the X’s and O’s stand for.   Can they make it more confusing!!

X = Operating Window
O = Fixed Window

Are you sure this is right?  Shouldn’t ‘O’ stand for Operator?  No it is actually the opposite!  O is not operator but fixed.  I don’t know how many times I’ve had this conversation even with people, even those who are in the industry.  I agree it’s confusing; not sure what the origin of using X’s and O’s is, unfortunately it is here to stay.    Rather than try to rationalize or try to change the industry its better just to understand it.  Unless you want to buy windows or patio doors that are all backwards.

Viewed from Exterior

Most of the time slider windows are going to be opened from the inside of the house thus most most people think of operation from the inside of the house.  The reality is that the industry standard is to use the exterior of the house.  Assuming that it is viewed from the inside is generally a very bad assumption.  You may want to verify that it is in-fact from the exterior.

Operation vs Sliding Direction

X marks the side of the window that operates, NOT the direction that it slides!   This is very important.  A slider left (XO) means the operator is on the left side and slides to the right.

Left to Right

The X’s and O’s are read left to right just looking your looking at the window from the outside of your house.

XO = Operator on Left, Fixed on Right


OOX = Fixed on Left, Fixed in the Middle and Operator on Right.


There are many possibilities using X’s and O’s depending on the window system being used.  Not all window systems can accommodate a OOX configuration as it requires a special type of mullion.

Not understanding which direction the window slides can be a big issue, especially once the window is installed.  If you are not sure make sure you write on the contract which direction the operator slides from and which side of the house you are viewing the slider from.  E.g.  “Viewed from interior operator slides to the right. ”   You don’t need to put it in their terms as long as there is no ambiguity.  If you write “Operator slides to right”  they may not know you mean from the inside of the house.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.  Once the window is installed the sales associate will always claim that they explained everything to you properly.    The cost of changing an XO to an OX once installed is going to cost is very high as it is like doing the same job twice.


XO Slider Window

XOX Slider Window




Air, Argon, Kyrpton, Xenon, Does it really matter?

Quite often when customers are replacing windows a common question that comes up is does using different gases in your windows really make a difference?  Many windows companies will give bogus information regarding the effectiveness of using different gases in windows.

There are many different factors in making an energy saving window the sealed unit is a very important piece of the puzzle.  Type of Low E glass, the surface the Low E is placed, air space, gas and spacer type all contribute to this very confusing situation.  Although many of these factors overlap I will focus mainly on gas in this post.


Air (the one you are breathing as you are reading this) consists of 77% Nitrogen and 21% oxygen and 2% of other gases.  The density of air is 1.2922 g/L*.   The denser the air the better insulation properties.  Both Helium and Neon have lower densities than air so there is no point using them as a substitute.


Argon is the 3rd most common gas in the atmosphere 0.93% or 9300 parts per million.  The density of argon is 1.784 g/L which is higher than air.  Because the density of air is higher than air it performs better as an insulator. A sealed unit with 1/2 air space, hard coat Low E on surface 3 with argon would have a U factor of 1.65w/m2-K.  The same sealed unit air instead of argon would have a U factor of 1.91w/m2-K  (Lower the number the better)   1.65 (R value 3.44) vs 1.91 (R value = 2.97) is quite a significant difference in U Factor.  there is a 15% performance increase simply by adding argon gas into a sealed unit.  Argon being a very common gas it is quite cheap to extract argon from the atmosphere.  This makes argon a very good gas to use.  It is cost effective and gives you a boast in performance.


Krypton is the newest rage in the window industry.   It is an expensive rare gas occurring 1 part per million in the atmosphere.  As a result it is expensive to extract from the atmosphere.  A sealed unit with 1/2 air space, hard coat Low E on surface 3 with argon would have a U factor of 1.57w/m2-K (R Value of 3.62).  A 5.2% improvement over the its Argon counterpart and a 22% improvement over air.  Considering that Krypton comes with a pretty heavy price tag for most cases it probably doesn’t justify spending the money.

Of course I didn’t really do justice to Krypton as Krypton performs better in smaller air spaces.  By lowering the air space to 5/16 a U factor of 1.49w/m2-K (R value of 3.81) giving Krypton an additional 5% improvement bonus.  Krypton will always out perform Argon when measured at the same airspace.  As the sealed unit airspace  get smaller the the gap between argon and krypton widens.  This has more to do with the fact that argon provides poor insulation at small air spaces.  Quite often you will Krypton being offered in triples and argon offered in doubles.  Often the reason for this is that the triple glazed unit with argon performs so poorly that the only way to get decent ratings is to put Krypton in it.


I have never seen Xenon offered in any window system.  It could be here soon.   1 part per 11.5 million makes this gas 11.5 times more rare than Krypton.   The density of 5.894 g/L makes it significantly denser than anything we have talked about already.     A sealed unit with 1/2 air space, hard coat Low E on surface 3 with argon would have a U factor of 1.48w/m2-K (R Value of 3.85).  This is only marginally better than Krypton.  Of course as the gas gets denser the performance increases with smaller air spaces.   By moving to a 1/4 air space the U factor lowers to 1.41w/m2-K(R value of 4.04) making it the most efficient sealed unit.


Gas does matter.  It makes a difference to the sealed unit.  Depending on the air space the effectiveness of the gas varies.   Below is a chart showing Air / Argon / Krypton / Xenon effectiveness.   The ROI on Krypton and Xenon are probably not worth the upfront cost.  Argon is an absolute no brainier.    If a salesman tells you otherwise walk away from them!

Air vs Argon vs Krypton vs Xenon

*at 0 Degrees celcius @ 101.325 kPa

Climate Windows

Cut the middle man!

Getting your windows installed? You probably have gotten some quotes and have realized that the prices are a lot higher than you expected.

There are so many parties that are involved in the process and each party needs to make money

  • Manufacturer produces product and sells to a retailer like Lowe’s/Home Depot
  • Retailer sells product to a contractor
  • Contractor hires window installer
  • Finally the contractor sells an installed product to the consumer

The other problem with this scenario is that there are too many hands in the pot!  Also when something goes wrong everyone points their finger at each other.   The manufacturer will blame the installer, the installer will blame the manufacturer.  In the end as the consumer you are frustrated.

One Stop Shop

There is hope!  By having the manufacturer directly install the windows you are cutting out the middle man thus having one party to blame for any misfortunes that may occur.  It also comes with the benefit of a lower price because there are less hands in the pot. Climate Windows is an example of this type of model.

Cut the middle man completely

If you are changing a lot of windows, it may be possible to deal with the manufacture directly (you probably need some in like a friend).   In this case you can buy your windows at a price that is significantly reduced.  Also hire your own window installer to do the installation.  Not a contractor that will hire a window installer but a window installer.   Sometimes the manufacturer will even recommend someone in the area that you live in.  This will lower your cost but comes with some risk.  If the manufacturer goes under or the installer disappears your can forget your warranty.