Let There Be Light!

Modern windows and doors have come a long way in thermal insulation, solar heat control, reduced energy costs, advanced structural strength, improved safety, better sound insulation and reduced maintenance.

Savings on HVAC equipment sizing and reduced monthly utility bills can offset the extra cost of buying a superior, high efficiency window that blocks exterior heat to reduce reliance on cooling systems in the warm season, while trapping more heat inside a house and keeping window surfaces warm and dry in the cold season.

Weighing the positive and negative aspects of each type of window frame material and balancing that with the style of the home and its budget is important, but what’s even more important is what’s inside the frame. Double-paned windows with Low-E glass and a vacuum-sealed argon fill are often necessary to meet the minimum requirements of modern energy codes which limit the U-factor and solar-heat-gain coefficient according to climate zone. Safety glazing, fall protection, and emergency escape and rescue are other aspects of code compliance contractors need to understand when specifying windows and doors.

Ultra high-efficiency products are usually twice as efficient as double-pane units and some narrow the performance gap between the opening and the wall on which they’re installed.

Besides better energy efficiency and comfort, upgrading your windows beyond the minimum requirements can provide a list of benefits which are even more highly prized since the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • allowing more natural light into a home. Technological advances in glass and glazing allowing windows to block cold or heat without also blocking natural light from entering a house.  With thoughtful window placement and exterior landscaping most of a home’s daytime lighting needs can be met.

  • better soundproofing. The benefits of dampening excessive noise on the quality of life are wide-ranging, affecting our health and behavior.

  • improved indoor air quality (IAQ). Reducing the amount of dust and air pollutants that can enter the home and mitigating moisture build-up that can lead to mold and mildew makes healthier IAQ easier to attain

  • better quality of life overall. Less dust means less housekeeping.  Better windows can also mean less maintenance is required.

Of course, even choosing the very best window assures no benefits if it’s not installed properly. While the International Residential Code (IRC) establishes minimum flashing requirements, it does not provide detailed installation guidance. It’s quite often the window and door manufacturers who stipulate a caulk/sealant at the top and side flanges, but not at the bottom flange (to allow drainage).  A savvy contractor will make certain that pre-installation waterproofing, and proper flashing and caulking are done with an eye to detail, otherwise ensuing water leaks will cause a barrage of problems that could have been easily prevented.  In a hot market challenged with persistent supply and labor challenges products that are easy to install for contractors and provide better ease of use for the end user are the stand-outs among recent window and door introductions.

While the window and door industry has come a long way already, technology poses to soon introduce a new class of windows in the form of “smart” windows, including windows that capture or create solar energy posing to turn practically any everyday glass surface into a solar cell.  Glass with switchable glazing is another fast-progressing technology.  Electrochromic technology allows windows to change from clear to opaque with the touch of a button help reduce cooling costs during summer months and increase privacy year-round. Other types of glass technology work without electricity to intuitively transitions from clear to dark.  Photochromic glass can respond to changes in light, working like eyeglasses that tint themselves on sunny days.   Thermochromic technology can automatically change from clear to diffused to white and reflective in response to heat.

The bottom line:  Better windows with high tech features and which are designed with ease of installation in mind, lead to new design possibilities.  “Glass houses” that are healthy and light-filled yet private, strong and secure, low maintenance and zero energy are on the drawing boards of savvy builders.  No longer must windows be the weakest energy efficiency link in a building envelope! 

Named “Best Window and Door Product” at the 2022 International Builders Show, Edura’s PanoLock Multi-Point lock is a multi-point lock that works with off-the-shelf hardware, supports a forgiving installation, and offers lasting performance, all at an affordable price point. PanoLock works with standard hardware via innovative plug-n-play latch and deadbolt adapters that mate with multiple brands and styles. Compatible brands include Schlage, Kwikset, Gatehouse, Baldwin, Brinks, and Defiant.

See other IBS/KBIS winners. 

Download the article from Building Savvy magazine