Go to the head of the glass

Choose your win­dows wisely for in­su­la­tion, se­cu­rity and style

Western Times - - LIFE / HOME - JO­HANNA LEG­GATT More trend­win­dows.com.au

WHETHER you’re ren­o­vat­ing or build­ing a home, you’ll find cer­tain de­ci­sions take the most time — fix­tures and fit­tings, in­te­rior style and paint colours, for ex­am­ple. But win­dows are also im­por­tant. Peo­ple have tended to rel­e­gate win­dows to an af­ter­thought but, ac­cord­ing to Trend Win­dows & Doors mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Athina Solomou, things are chang­ing. “It’s a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment for a home­owner and peo­ple now re­alise that,” Athina says. “We are find­ing that cus­tomers are plac­ing a lot more scru­tiny on what they’re get­ting in win­dows and, in par­tic­u­lar, whether they are en­ergy ef­fi­cient be­cause there is a lot more aware­ness of that now.”

Know the terms

WIN­DOWS are of­ten sources of en­ergy loss in the home – as well as en­abling draughts through cracks and gaps – so ar­chi­tects will of­ten speak of a “U Value”, which es­sen­tially mea­sures a win­dow’s abil­ity to in­su­late. Mean­while, the SHGC rat­ing (so­lar heat gain co­ef­fi­cient) mea­sures the abil­ity to re­duce heat gen­er­ated by sun­light, with the lower the SHGC num­ber, the bet­ter the glass at keep­ing the sun’s heat out of the house. “Like­wise, in a cold cli­mate the higher the SHGC num­ber, the more nat­u­ral warmth will oc­cur,” Athina says.

Frame it

AC­CORD­ING to Athina, tim­ber frames are en­joy­ing a resur­gence. “In the past, tim­ber doors and win­dows had a stigma at­tached due to the main­te­nance of the prod­uct. “But I think now with en­ergy ef­fi­ciency be­com­ing a fac­tor, tim­ber is a great in­su­la­tor, and peo­ple are start­ing to re­turn to tim­ber and ar­chi­tects are start­ing to in­cor­po­rate tim­ber into their de­signs.” Alu­minium frames are an eco­nom­i­cal frame choice – lightweight, strong and low main­te­nance. They are avail­able in a range of pow­der-coated fin­ishes and are good for bush­fire-prone ar­eas. A third op­tion is hy­brid frames, which con­sist of alu­minium and a ma­te­rial called ex­truded rigid poly­mer. “The com­bi­na­tion of­fers great ther­mal prop­er­ties, while pro­vid­ing strength and dura­bil­ity,” Athina says.

On the dou­ble

“WIN­DOWS are get­ting wider and taller, and it’s re­ally chang­ing what a mod­ern house looks like,” Athina says. “Peo­ple want a big­ger vista or to cap­ture a view.” Big­ger win­dows, of course, mean less en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and that’s where dou­ble glaz­ing can help. “(Dou­ble glaz­ing) is not just for cold cli­mates,” Athina says. “It helps in warm cli­mates, too, hav­ing that ex­tra in­su­la­tion.” Dou­ble glaz­ing is also use­ful for re­duc­ing sound from out­side. Just re­mem­ber: the wider the space between the two sheets of glass, the greater the sound im­prove­ment.

Just my type

MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ERS are now pro­duc­ing glass that of­fers bet­ter in­su­la­tion. Low E glass, for ex­am­ple, has a trans­par­ent “low emis­siv­ity” coat­ing that re­flects heat while still al­low­ing in max­i­mum light, so the house is cooler in sum­mer and warmer in win­ter. “It blocks the sun’s harm­ful UV rays, re­duc­ing fad­ing on fur­ni­ture, car­pet and cur­tains,” Athina says. Toned glass is great for re­duc­ing the sun’s heat and glare, and the darker the tint, the more en­ergy ef­fi­cient it tends to be. Grey, bronze and green op­tions are com­mon choices, with grey of­fer­ing the best per­for­mance. Pat­terned, frosted and etched glass types of­fer pri­vacy in in­stances where you don’t want to see or be seen.

Safe and se­cure

When it comes to se­cu­rity, lam­i­nated glass is best, ac­cord­ing to Athina. It is es­sen­tially two or more sheets of glass per­ma­nently bonded to­gether with a clear vinyl in­ter­layer. When sub­jected to im­pact, the in­ter­layer al­lows the glass to re­main in­tact and re­sist break­age for longer. Tough­ened glass looks like stan­dard glass, but is safer as it frac­tures into small par­ti­cles rather than large shards. “Tough­ened glass also with­stands tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­en­tials of about 250C, mak­ing it use­ful in bush­fires,” Athina says.

WIN­DOWS ARE GET­TING WIDER AND TALLER, AND IT’S RE­ALLY CHANG­ING WHAT A MOD­ERN HOUSE LOOKS LIKE. PEO­PLE WANT A BIG­GER VISTA OR TO CAP­TURE A VIEW. ATHINA SOLOMOU

Pho­tos: Trend Win­dows

FRAME IT: Con­sider the style of your home, and how much main­te­nance you wish to do, when se­lect­ing win­dow frames. LEFT: Toned glass is great for cut­ting heat and glare from the sun. WIN­DOW SHOP­PING

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