Go to the head of the glass
Choose your windows wisely for insulation, security and style
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.
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
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