The house-as-a-system: Use the Step Code to your advantage

The ‘house-as-a-system’ is a concept we Window Geeks can talk about all day long. At its core, this is all about connection. Everything in a house, from the windows, to the HVAC, the insulation, ventilation, and the cladding, work together to determine a home’s efficiency. They all need to be taken into account when building within the BC Energy Step Code.

Getting this relationship right and making sure each aspect of the home is doing its part is incredibly beneficial, but when it comes to execution, it can be easier said than done. A big concern for builders is the increased construction costs when attempting to meet the Step Code requirements. We’re sure you’ve heard about the rise in the price of lumber and other materials. This certainly hasn’t helped matters.

Many people think that to improve their home to a level beyond Step 1 of the code during a renovation, major price increases will be necessary across the board. Luckily, this does not need to be the case. While it’s true that construction costs will be higher working within the parameters of the code, there are key trade-offs that can be made to get the most out of the investment.

Always remember that a home works ‘as-a-system’. There’ll be aspects of the home that can elevate this system far more than others, with far less time, money, and effort. You don’t always need the most expensive building products for each category to satisfy the BC Energy Step Code, and small upgrades in some areas can go a long way towards achieving fantastic levels of efficiency.

We’ve worked with many homeowners and had a lot of success by upgrading a window package from a basic triple-pane to a high-performance triple-pane by adding multiple Low Emissivity (LoE) coatings. The upgrade cost a few hundred dollars overall, but this allowed them to save a few thousand in other areas while achieving the same results. It also provided savings on their hydro bills, which makes this an investment that pays for itself.

Knowing when to ask the right questions is vital. The best way to understand these trade-offs is to engage with your suppliers and trades early in the design phase. This way, we can assist you by providing multiple performance options for the energy advisor to use in your Step Code calculations. Get a Window Geek in your corner. You’ll thank us for it later.

We are your certified Window Geeks

We love to talk windows! At Centra, we don’t just manufacture our products, we install them too. This allows us to offer you a full lifetime warranty, eliminating confusion between product performance and installation. We view the house as a system and understand how each element must work correctly to maximize the comfort and energy efficiency you experience. For more information on this topic (and many more!), contact our local Employee Owners at 1-888-534-3333 or drop us an email at You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter, which provides all the tips and tricks about the window industry you could ever need.

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