Last week we talked about the often-overlooked existence of the mil. Many of us have been unaware of its presence even as it sat right beneath our noses. Mil’s are everywhere! Just take a look around. You see that pen sitting on your desk, or that mouse you just clicked? Take a glance toward the door, or even think back to the shampoo bottle in the shower this morning. Everywhere you look, there are things; and these things are measurable. And if it is measurable, it can be measured with a mil... although chances are a mil wasn’t used in the measurement of said object. That is why we are going to stop talking about the mil and move on to even more obscure things. Carrying on with our relentless march through the back coves, the high peaks and the slurping swamps of the window manufacturing industry, we are going to take a slight jog toward slightly more familiar terrain as we explore the Model Energy Code (MEC for short… but as you all know, there are no shortcuts taken around here, so you’re going to get the full, unadulterated goodness of long form when it comes to the Model Energy Code). Since the Model Energy Code is directly dealing with energy efficiency and the residential energy coding, it is something that we take pretty seriously. Energy efficiency is the primary goal of any patio door, aluminum window, or vinyl window. If energy efficiency weren’t an issue and weren’t the number one objective behind any good natured window or door, we’d all just leave gaping holes in our homes, letting in all the fresh air. We don’t do that though. We like our homes sealed up and atmospherically controlled. There is no doubt that everyone likes a little fresh air, but let’s face it, we have windows for a reason – to keep the outside air outside, and the inside air inside. So, with that fundamental fact out of the way, lets get on to bigger and better fish to fry. We are looking at the Model Energy Code today, so a definition is probably in order. The MEC (sorry, it just started to get a little redundant spelling it out every time) is a code that was cited in the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) signed in 1992. The MEC establish a baseline for residential energy codes is the United States.
We’ve been looking lately at some measurements that are forcing us to get some perspective on the whole idea of precision. There is a degree to which measurements can be made that is baffling to the normal person. Lucky for you and for us, we aren’t normal people. We’re window manufacturers and precision is the name of the game. In the world of vinyl windows, aluminum windows, and storm doors, we think it is part of what helps set apart the excellent from the average. Continuing on in the name of precision, this week we’re going to look at another measure of minutia. If you remember, last week looked at the term is micron. Simply put, a micron is one millionth of a metric meter. It’s an extremely exact measurement. Period. No ands, ifs or buts about it. There are a few also(s) though… which, I suppose if you think about undercuts the whole, “no ands, ifs, or buts” thing, given that “also” is basically “and.” So, to be exacting and precise about it, since that is what we’re all about at the moment, a micron is tiny, no ifs or buts about it. So how about that “also”? Well, a micron is small, but it doesn’t stand alone - which brings us to our next glossary term, mil. A mil is a unit of measure, slightly larger than a micron, that is also used for exact measurements. A mil is one thousandth of an inch, or 0.0254 millimeter. That is small, but not that small. So there you have it, a measurement smaller than a millimeter and larger than a micron exists! Now all your measuring inconveniences can finally be solved. No more having to use microns for a mils job! Now, chances are you’ve never heard of a mil, and chances are if you want to measure something really small, you’re probably going to reach for a micrometer before you go hunting down some newfangled mil-o-contraption. If you haven’t heard of a mil before, you’re probably not alone. It lives in the shadow of its more precise neighbor, the micron, and its more convenient neighbor, the millimeter. A shadowed existence if ever there was one. Before you go feeling to sorry for it though, here are a few of the places you might run into a mil. More common in the engineering and manufacturing world (no surprise to you since you’re learning about it from the mouth of a window manufacturer), you’re likely to see a mil being used to measure the thickness of paper, film, wire, foil, paint coatings, and sheeting. In the world of aluminum windows ad vinyl windows, you might even bump into them once in a while.
Sometimes in life it is all about perspective. So, I’ll give you three options as to what we’ll be talking about today, and you pick your best guess. Whoever wins gets a cross-internet pat on the back. Here are your options: 1) The importance of energy efficiency on both the large scale and smaller individual scale 2) The precision with which a quality aluminum window, vinyl window or storm door should be built in order to ensure the right fit and energy efficiency across the board 3)The undying love we have around here for windows and doors of all shapes, sizes, and colors. So, take 30 seconds, think through your options, write them on a piece of paper, fold the paper, read the following correct answer, unfold the paper and see if you guessed right, and celebrate or lament your choice. Here we go! Thirty seconds starts… now. Ok, stop. Thirty seconds is up. Fold your papers and get ready. The correct answer is… all three! If you guessed the first, second, or third option (or any combination of the three choices) then you were correct! If you thought the game was silly and didn’t write anything down, or if you thought the game was trivial, then you were also correct! Everyone gets a pat on the back! Great work! As I’ve always said, we’ve got a sharp group around here. So, let’s get to the topic of our discussion today. Remember our three topics from earlier; the importance of energy efficiency across the entire spectrum of window manufacturing; the precision with which a quality aluminum window, vinyl window or storm door must be built to make sure efficiency and fit is achieved; and the unyielding love for windows that we find hard to escape. The third point should be evident and present in everything we do around here and needs no further emphasis… plus, you might think we’re a little weird if we keep on that idea too much longer. The other two points can be seen at work in the concept behind our glossary term of the day. The term is micron. Quite simply, a micron is on millionth of a metric meter. It’s a pretty exact measurement, and that is the whole point. Precision measurement helps ensure energy efficiency in windows, and energy efficiency is what it’s all about.
We’ve been trudging through the woes of weather and exploring the delights of storm windows and good old-fashioned storm doors. We’ve looked at the role storm windows and storm doors can play in improving the energy efficiency of a home or workplace and the way that energy efficiency improvements can dramatically impact the comfort of the home environment. The cost savings associated with storm windows are also substantial, largely because of the protection they afford the aluminum window and vinyl windows in the home, but also because of the impact they can have on the cost savings of a home. By creating another layer of protection, one more barrier between the home and the outer air environing it. (Sorry, I know the word environ feels a bit clunky here, but I’ve been looking for a way to use it for longer than I can remember… and this was the opportunity. The word environing essentially means encircling. So, whenever you’re really looking to impress, maybe just hold off on this word. No matter how you use it, it sounds like you either don’t know what you’re talking about, or you are just trying to hard. Either way, it’s not too impressive to most normal folks out there. Just a little trivial word-knowledge and a word of advice wrapped up in one nice little package. So now, lets get back to the real world.) In our slight foray into the world of storm windows, we started to lose the scent of our glossary term expedition, but fear not, we’re going to dive back in right where we left off. We are looking at the term metal-clad windows today and I think we’re all in for a treat! A metal clad window is essentially a window whose outermost exterior parts are covered with aluminum (extruded aluminum if you want to get technical… which we do) or other varieties of metal, with a finish that is applied at the factory. What’s the point? The point goes hand in hand with our storm window explorations, and that point is protection against the elements. It all boils down to energy efficiency. You know it, I know it, we all know it, so lets go for it! Energy efficiency is the bottom line and if you want to play, now you know the rules of the game. So lets get it together and when you’re making your next window decision, think protection from the elements and you’ll be on the right track.
If you live in southern Mississippi, last week’s blog entry was eerily close to the truth as a major storm system hit the area with a serious tornado causing extensive damage and a lot of devastation. Not only did a tornado pass through some heavily populated areas in this region, but with the storms came heavy rain for days upon days. Like we pointed out previously, there isn’t much that a storm window can do to protect a home against some of the more damaging winds and hail that nature can dish up. Our sympathy goes out to those who have lost their homes or sustained major damage in these storms. For those who were spared direct damage, storm windows could’ve, in fact, greatly improved how their homes performed in the storms. Driven rain and heavy winds have a lot more to compete with when they are confronted with a vinyl window or aluminum window protected by a storm window. There is no doubt that the added barrier between the elements and the actual windows themselves can really change the outcome of a major storm and its effect on a home. Remember, an aluminum window, vinyl window, patio door or skylight, even the sturdiest, most securely built of them, are still the weakest points in the weather-tightness of a building. The seals and seams in any structure are the first places to be tested under extreme stress, and storms definitely offer the highest form of stress homes will encounter. So, with that recap and debriefing out of the way, we’re going to move on to our normal order of things, and get down to the nitty gritty of the window manufacturing industry. The next area of focus for us will be the term Meeting rail. A meeting rail is the place where a sliding glass door, a hung window, or a sliding window meets its other half. Essentially, it is any place where two panels meet and seal to create a movable weather barrier. This idea is what makes movable windows work. If an opening window were not sealable at its meeting point, there would a major weak point in a home where energy efficiency would be lost or severely compromised. Thanks to weather sealing meeting rails, the world is a little more prepared to handle weather and still maintain usability and comfort in windows and homes.
There’s a storm a’brewing, are you ready? No, this isn’t an apocalyptic warning, or even an informed meteorological prediction; it is just a way to get us talking about the issues - the things that we are all thinking but no one is really saying. Today we are going to look at storm windows and the ways they impact our daily lives. If you’ve been around, you probably know a thing or two about storm windows. We are going to go ahead and put it all out on the table. We’ll start with what exactly a storm widow does. As the name implies, the element of weather has a lot to do with the existence of storm windows. If it weren’t for ravaging winds and violent rains, we might only know skylights, bay windows, breeze windows, sunrooms and screen doors… but that isn’t the world we live in. The reality of our world is that it can be a pretty turbulent place, filled with thunder and hail and storm and gale. So, with that basic premise established, a storm window just kind of makes sense. A quality vinyl window or aluminum window is often enough protection for your average weather pattern, but when the big bad weather wolf comes to blow the house down, storm windows can make a dramatic difference in home energy efficiency, weather sealing, and the protection of existing windows, frames, and other minute nooks and crannies where driven rain can infiltrate and cause damage. By further protecting weaknesses (although windows in and of themselves are a major protection against the elements, they are the weakest link when it comes to entry points in a home… after all, no matter how good the installation, a window is still a joint or joining of materials, a break in the continuity of an otherwise solid and relatively impenetrable wall) storm windows and storm doors can change they way your home weathers a storm. Skylights are less likely to leak, windows are less likely to be damaged by hail, broken wind driven tree limbs, and gusts that can cause leaking and damage. As an added bonus, talking about storm windows can make you feel a bit like a salty old sailor getting ready to weather a nasty nor’easter miles out from some rocky and desolate shore… and who doesn’t love that? So, next time you check the weather forecast, just know that it is storming somewhere.
Energy efficiency is king in the winter and in the summer. No matter where you go or who you know, energy efficiency matters. Unless you live in those rare climes where the temperature never departs from ideal, you probably know of and are concerned with energy efficiency. We are going to explore energy efficiency through looking a little more closely at low-emittance coatings. Known as Low-E coatings for short, these are microscopically thin metal or metallic oxide layers which are adhered to the glazing of a window or skylight. A Low-E coating is essentially used for reducing the U-factor of a window by blocking or suppressing radiated heat flow. This kind of coating is not visibly seen and is also essentially “invisible” to visible light and shortwave infrared radiation (meaning it won't block your view or alter the amount of light that is allowed to enter the room). It does, however, block or reflect long-wave infrared radiation. This is an important tool in the arsenal of methods for increasing and improving home energy efficiency. By blocking heat gain from occurring through windows, the overall impact on energy efficiency can be great. Because energy efficiency is such an important topic right now, it serves us well to look at these things a little more in-depth in hopes of better fortifying our homes and places of business, reducing our overall energy costs, and making everything just a little bit more efficient. To further define a few of the terms we’ve used today, we should look at what emissivity means. This term defines the quality of a surface that radiates small amounts of energy (thermal energy). Reflectivity is essentially the opposite of emissivity. Where one term describes the passage of heat energy through a material, the other describes the reflection of heat energy off of a material. These are critical terms to have straightened out in the window manufacturing industry. There is a lot that goes into vinyl window and aluminum window design that deals with either emissivity or reflectivity. So, in the name of energy efficiency, go apply your newfound knowledge and enjoy! In the meantime, keep an eye peeled at hardware stores, lumber yards, and other aluminum window, vinyl window, storm window, patio door, and storm door dealers for emissivity ratings. You are now armed with the knowledge to make a slightly more informed decision when you are faced with emissivity ratings. For more information, check out some of the details about Low-E ratings.
Window efficiency is everything if home or business energy efficiency means anything to you. Chances it does. So lets take a look at some methods used to control and improve energy efficiency. We are going to turn our focus now to low-conductance spacers. What is a low-conductance spacer? It is an assembly of spacing materials intended to reduce the amount of heat that can transfer through a window. These spacers are placed between the panes of glass in multiple-paned windows. The material serves as a buffer and prevents passive heat loss or gain. In the past, these spacers were made from aluminum due to its superior structural properties. As it was soon realized, because of aluminum’s equally good conduction of heat, the use of aluminum spacers was not an energy efficient solution. It essentially short-circuited any benefit provided by the multi-paned glass. Eventually, multi-paned aluminum windows began to be fitted with new materials that were better insulated and better insulating. Other metals like stainless steel are less conductive and solve the problem of the energy efficiency short-circuit that was prone to happen in double paned aluminum windows. Other materials are also occasionally used depending on the design and structure of the window. Foams, and other insulating materials can be used to encase the panes of glass where they meet the frame of the window itself. There are a variety of other techniques used to stop the transfer of heat through a window as well. Some of these techniques are quite technical, but the general idea behind them is the concept of a thermal break. A thermal break is basically a change in material or structural design that breaks the continuity of the heat’s path of escape or entry. To visualize the concept of a thermal break, imagine trying to drive across Arizona. Things are going great, the kids are quite and well behaved, then suddenly you are stopped by the impassible Grand Canyon. The only way past it is to drive hours out of the way. The kids start pulling out each other’s hair, the dog has to go the bathroom, and your plans of driving straight across the state in a day are foiled. This is how heat would feel, if heat could feel, when it is met with a thermal break. Its plans of destroying the energy efficiency of your home are put on hold and your wallet breathes a deep sigh of relief.
Smart glass is something that few of us have actually had the pleasure of encountering face to face. This might have you wondering, why me? Why haven’t I been privileged enough to see one of the eight wonders of the world? Well, you are not alone. The technology employed in smart glass makes it difficult to use for many reasons. The cost of installation for this kind of window can make it difficult to find. Also, the durability of the optical component of the technology is still in need of improvement. All in all, the glass is a wonderful feat of human engineering; however, it does have its drawbacks and downfalls. Hopefully will one day these kinks will be worked out and the glass will become more practical for everyday use.
Moving on from our current glass-freak geek out, we are going to look at some more window manufacturing terminology that will go a long way to helping us better understand the industry and the components involved. The next term in our window manufacturing glossary is long-wave infrared radiation. If it sounds technical, that’s because it kind of is. We are going to do our best to share some of what is actually going on with this term, and demystify some of the misty waters. Long-wave infrared radiation is an invisible kind of radiation that trails up on the electromagnetic spectrum (the measurement tool, so to speak, of light types and varieties) past red light. Red light is the highest wavelength of light on the visible spectrum. After that light, or energy, passes into the realm of the invisible (at least to the naked eye). Long-wave infrared radiation is a variety of energy that is generally emitted by warm surfaces. This particular form of radiation is a common way that energy is lost from a home or room. Heat lost through walls or windows would be said to have escaped in the form of long-wave infrared radiation. This is where particularly good insulation and well-insulated windows can pay huge dividends in the maintenance of home temperatures and the maintaining of an energy efficient home or work environment. To ease the pocketbooks this winter, stomp out long-wave infrared radiation! It’s so simple! Replacement windows and quality vinyl windows and aluminum windows can be a great investment if energy efficiency is a concern, or if you just don’t like the sound of long-wave infrared radiation heat loss.
If any of you out there reading this are into science fiction or enjoy a good thrill, then read on. We are about to bridge the gap between the world of the expected and the conventional and leap into the world of fantasy and science fiction… only this is no fiction we’re describing here, this is real life. There is a certain degree of innovation that is almost too far flung to accept as reality. We’re straddling that line today, and we hope you can hang on. We are going to look at liquid crystal glazing today. Liquid crystal glazing is basically glass that employs a thin layer of liquid crystals whose optical properties change depending on the amount of current run through the glazing. The addition of a light current thought the glazing causes the crystals to shift from a clear optical state to a diffused optical state. This kind of glass can essentially be used as privacy glass at the flick of a switch. High-end hotels and conference rooms occasionally make use of this technology to shock and awe simpletons like me. This technology goes by many names including smart glass, switchable glass, or even magic glass. There are varieties of smart glass that allow the user to change the amount of light allowed to transfer through the glass as they change the current being sent into the glass itself. This technology also can be used to improve energy efficiency by altering the amount of sunlight that can pass through skylights or other windows. By properly using smart glass, optimal temperatures can be maintained much more easily within a residence or business. Although there are numerous applications for this kind of window, privacy remains one of the most ubiquitous uses of the technology. If you’re ready to go and outfit your home with smart glass, you might want to consider a few things. There are a few major barriers to this technology becoming commonplace. One of the issues is that smart glass is expensive. Installation requires technical experience and expertise, as the technology is proprietary and not as common as the rest of the technology available in the window manufacturing industry. While the technology can be used for energy efficiency purposes, it does use electricity to change the optical properties of the glass; therefore, the net benefit in terms of energy efficiency is hard to calculate and difficult to determine.
The idea of a vinyl window or aluminum window seems simple enough, but there is actually a lot that goes into the whole thing. Not only is the manufacturing side of the industry quite extensive, with so many nooks and crannies and ins and outs that you could get lost without the right map, the infrastructure surrounding the aluminum window of vinyl window itself is quite extensive. In this instance, I’m not talking about the infrastructure of shipping trucks, supply chains, highways, wholesale window dealers, replacements window dealers and any of the other members of the extensive window manufacturing chain of supply, although that deserves due attention and credit. At the moment, however, I want to look at the infrastructure within a building surrounding the actual vinyl window, aluminum window, or even patio door that makes the whole thing work. It isn’t just about a window standing on its own, it is about the whole package, the wall, the window, the trim, and all the components that make a window a critical part of the home or workplace as a whole. We are going to address the lentil a little more in depth because this component of the window housing assembly is an excellent way to illustrate the point that the strength of a window comes from those parts surrounding it as well as its own assets and attributes. A lentil is a beam-like member positioned above a window or door and above its respective frame as well. The lintel supports the rest of the structure above the window and makes for a more stable wall. When a wall is built to include a window, extra measures must be taken to ensure that the wall is as strong and stable as the surrounding walls. The reason for this is that when a wall is built to include a window, the underlying structure of studs within the wall is interrupted, to bear the load of the wall above the window, extra reinforcement must be added. This is done through a variety of framing (technical-speak for wall and house building) techniques that enable the compromised wall to maintain its integrity. Without such extra measures, we might have windows, but our homes would be weaker for having them. Because a window is ultimately a part of a larger unit (the home), the members surrounding it (in this case, the lentil above it) are incredibly important and invaluable.
As we drill further into the mountain that is the window manufacturing industry, we need to remind ourselves of a few important things that we should constantly keep at the forefront of our mind. If you are in the process of moving through the entirety of the an industry, any industry, then this is for you. To keep proper focus as you are barraged by industry term after industry term, it is important to keep the central core of the industry first and foremost in your mind. Without the trained focus of a laser beam, the plethora of information available at our fingertips is enough to overwhelm. That is why we’ve made it a point to regularly return to the central components of the window manufacturing industry. When you really look at it, the core components aren’t really that complicated. An energy efficient building is the central piece of the picture, without which (rather, without striving for such a building) the industry wouldn’t exist. Sure, windows are great in that they provide windows to the outdoors, places to glimpse the natural (or man made) landscapes that surround our homes and offices. But, a window doesn’t stop there, it does a lot more than merely provide a window to the outside, it provides a barrier between the natural climate and the manufactured and controlled climate, allowing the view while maintaining a stable indoor climate. So, with that at the forefront of our minds, we are going to move forward in our expedition to uncover, recover, and discover the details regarding the window manufacturing industry that you might not know, or in all your years of experience and diligent study, perhaps have forgotten. There is a lot going on in world of vinyl windows, aluminum windows, storm doors, and all the other wonderful components of the window manufacturing industry. So, getting to it, we are going to talk about the lintel. If you don’t know what it is, you’re not alone. You might be inclined to start thinking along the lines of soup, if you did that, you’d be barking up the proverbially wrong tree. Lintel on the other hand would be more along the lines of soup. Don’t worry, It’s an easy mix up to make. A Lentil, in the world of window manufacturing is a horizontal member positioned above a window that supports the overlying structure. We’ll explain this in a little more detail.
With such a dynamic and growing industry, there are certain aspects of change and growth that are important to be addressed and understood to better grasp the advancing nature of window manufacturing. Like most industries, there is an ever-present aspect of change that must be embraced in order to stay afloat and remain a viable and strong presence in an industry. Unless you are pursuing a time tested craft or an archaic form of calligraphy, the elements of change and advancement of technology are often your best friends. In light of this fact, we are going to explore some of the changes that have taken place in the past 100 years of window manufacturing. Without getting too wordy or in depth, and without further ado, we present the past in fast motion. The advancement of window making technology has seen a lot of change and refinement such as the development of advanced annealing techniques (a glass hardening technique which makes for less brittle glass, safer for use in most applications). Gas filled double paned windows are also a major advancement that has propelled the efficiency of vinyl windows and aluminum windows and has allowed for homes and workplaces (any place with a window, really) to become more energy efficient, less expensive to operate (heating and cooling-wise, at least) and overall more comfortable and habitable. The development of new ways of manufacturing vinyl windows and aluminum windows has also had a major impact on the industry as a whole. More efficient manufacturing line techniques that produce more precise and efficient windows have reshaped the face of the industry and impacted and evolved the companies producing the windows as well as the end consumer.
Today, much of the innovation and advancement that we see has to do with creating more efficient ways of producing windows and doors (this means more developed manufacturing line machinery, precision parts that make the assembly process more exact, and less energy expenditure in the process of production). We also are seeing developments in the materials used in production. This includes everything from more efficient frame materials, to the insulating gasses used between panes of glass to reduce heat loss and heat gain. Glass composites are also continuously refined and tested to produce optimum clarity and energy efficiency. There is also an emphasis on improving the blocking of certain kinds of ultra violet light that can cause energy efficiency to be impacted. On all these fronts, the window manufacturing industry is anything but stagnant. It continues to grow and develop daily.
If you’re window manufacturing savvy, then you know that if you were to distill the essence of the industry down to one point, then you would be left with the core of what everything is about, and that core would be energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is such a central point that the term itself runs the risk of becoming an overused phrase devoid of meaning. We could strive to rename the idea and rethink how we speak about energy efficiency to avoid this pitfall, but the truth is, energy efficiency is a simple enough concept that everyone can fairly easily grasp the essence of the idea being conveyed, and that value is something we shouldn’t ever get away from. Some might argue that by overusing the term, we are slowly but surely pulling meaning from the concept itself, the old “little boy who cried ‘wolf’” phenomenon. The more you shout about something the less people listen to, or hear the truth of what is being conveyed, even if you aren’t crying “wolf,” at all, but are instead announcing the most important, life-changing, course altering, profound news of the decade. We understand this and the risks we’re facing, but we shall not stop, we are compelled to share the news that energy efficiency is at the core of everything the window manufacturing industry stands for and does. It is the heartbeat, the lifeblood so-to-speak of the industry as a whole, and as such an important masthead of the industry, it deserves to be spoken of. Vinyl windows, aluminum windows, storm windows, storm doors, patio doors, and every other window/door and window/door pronoun you could possibly come up with deals, in some way, be it large or small, with the concept of energy efficiency. The control of climate within the closed space of a home or office is the essence of fenestration (I don’t know if you remember that word, so for those of you who need a reminder, fenestration essentially is the world of windows and doors all bundled up into one neat package of a word. So at the next party you’re at, when the conversation finds its seven-minute lull, pull out that fancy little factoid and drop some jaws! There is no shame in sharing a little bit of pointless trivia once in a while. Sure, some will look at you like your from another planet, but you can rest easy knowing you’ve share some knowledge that someone, somewhere probably didn’t know beforehand. Sleep well fellow window fanatic - sleep well.
In our last expedition into the window world, we reiterated a pretty important point; that being that the industry of window manufacturing is really, at its core, about one thing an one thing only: the dominion of man over nature. This might be a dramatic interpretation of the situation, but in reality, at the core of our use of windows and doors lies the desire, need and necessity of controlling our indoor climates to provide more comfortable, safe, and livable environments within our homes and workplaces. To control nature in some small way, even if only within the walls of our homes, is the basic need that windows help to address. So, without further ado, we’ll move on to our glossary term for the day, which fortuitously has very much to do with the topic at hand, the topic of energy efficiency and climate control. Light-to-solar-gain ratio is our next term and point of focus. This term is essentially a measurement of a window glazing’s ability to provide light without permitting too much solar heat gain. This ratio, between the visible transmission of light and the solar heat gain coefficient is the perfect term to help convey the idea that windows, in their essence, are about energy efficiency. The desire for a view, coupled with the need to maintain a home environment that is sealed and protected from the elements is the entire motivation behind vinyl windows, aluminum windows, and just about any other variety of window you can think of. Light-to-solar-gain ratio exactly depicts this desire. The more efficient the window, the more effective the window is at doing what a window was made to do. Providing light, providing a view to the outside world, and maintaining an environment suitable to life as we know it are just a few of the tricks that windows have up their sleeves… all in the name of energy preservation and efficiency.
If you were to ask that we boil down the entirety of the window manufacturing industry to one point, to a singular thought or idea, what do you think we’d say? Well, if you know us at all, then you’ll know the answer to that question. We’ll give you one guess. Ok, go! We’ll give you a hint; it has to do with energy. Yep, energy efficiency is at the core of everything we do in the window manufacturing industry. Even if you went back hundreds of years to the very first home with windows in it, the motivating factor for installing the great grandparent of the modern window was to control indoor climate, to maximize the efficiency of the home as a controlled environment. This might seem oversimplified to some of you folks out there, but the plain truth of it is that the industry wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for our need for energy efficiency and climate control. You may be saying, I’ve got a barn, and it’s got old windows that can hardly shake a stick at energy efficiency, we’re clearly not concerned with energy efficiency in there. Well, to that we’d have to reply; if you are not concerned with the climate or efficiency of the space, why have any windows at all? The purpose of a window is to separate the indoors from the outdoors, to manufacture a climate where the elements no longer reign supreme. In short, the goal and purpose behind the installation of any window, no matter how big or small, old or new, efficient or inefficienct, is to have some control over the climate, to preserve some kind of energy efficiency within a space. So, without beating the horse into the ground, we’ll leave you with the thought that the intention behind every window is to gain a little more control over indoor climates.
The window manufacturing industry is a rather expansive and technical industry filled with very specific and specialized parts and techniques. When a product is as specialized as a vinyl window or aluminum window, there is a lot proprietary knowledge that makes the whole thing work. It is our goal here to share this knowledge and dispense the expertise and knowledge that goes into the production of replacement windows and doors. So, let’s get on with it then! We’ve been keeping a running glossary of window terminology, and today we’re going to keep it going with our next term: lift. The term is simple enough, but is a pretty essential part of the industry and an important component in the manufacture of window goods. A lift is the component of a window that is used as a handle for raising and lowering the sash in a double hung window. This component is also known as a sash lift. So, next time you’re in a bind and can remember what to call that thing-a-ma-jig that looks like a handle, you can just call it a handle, or if you want to get really technical, you can call it a lift… or, if you want to get really, really technical you can call it a sash lift. There are a lot of technical terms that are really very simple in their basic meaning and function, but have very particular functions in the overall scheme of things. Another such term is light. While it might be much simpler to say window or window pane, we in the window manufacturing industry have manufactured the term light. This is basically a window or a pane of glass within a window. When dealing with double hung windows, the term is used to describe the number of panes in the upper sash. While the term might seem superfluous, it is helpful to clarify and make more acute distinctions in the industry. With so many different components and contexts, a more developed language helps make everything a little more efficient and effective in the aluminum window and vinyl window manufacturing industry. So, whether you’re dealing with a lift or a light, a handle or a window pane, the right term can go a long way in helping clarify… or perhaps confuse any situation. So, keep your nose to the books, learn what you can, and meet back here at the same time and the same place to put your window manufacturing knowledge to the test.
There is a lot to be learned about the world of vinyl windows, aluminum windows, and window manufacturing in general. It is our mission to uncover more informative and valuable information than you can shake a stick at – and believe us, for some of you window experts out there, it takes a lot to outdo your stick shaking abilities. So, in our ever-vigilant effort to provide information by the heap, we give you our next point of focus and study: laminated glass. We have talked about the idea of laminated windows in the past, but it can stand to be re-emphasized. Here’s the down and dirty on laminated glass: it usually is comprised of two or more sheets of glass, separated by an inner layer of clear/transparent plastic-like material. This layer serves as a sort of seatbelt for the glass should it be impacted or broken. The layers of glass are basically adhered to this inner layer and, if push comes to shove and the glass is broken, the inner layer prevents the glass from shattering into dangerous shards. Laminated glass is often used for safety purposes (ie. homes near golf courses often us safety glass in windows facing the golf course to prevent dangerous shattering of windows, or in vehicle windows where, similarly, accidents could cause shattered glass leading to severe and life threating injuries) or for sound proofing purposes (i.e. recording studio windows where sound isolation is important for the recording of clear and defined parts, or in homes near highways or interstates where the sound of traffic is constant and intrusive to the home environment). These are just a few cases where laminated glass is employed in daily situations. I’m sure with a little creativity and a little necessity (you know, necessity being the mother of invention), you can think of many other situations where laminated glass could make a vinyl window or aluminum window that much more of a force to be reckoned with.
We’ve been looking pretty intently at the elements of energy efficiency in a home or other building as it pertains to aluminum windows, vinyl windows, patio doors, storm doors, storm windows, and just bout any other window variety you can muster up. We’ve been talking specifically about the monetary impact poor windows and low energy efficiency can cause. Bills can get expensive, bottom line. Retrofitting a home with new windows or replacement windows can make a considerable difference in the grand scheme of things when it comes to this department. It would be useful to use some terms to talk about the energy efficiency of a home in order to better analyze the quality of the situation. Luckily, our next glossary term happens to be just one such term, Kilowatt Hour. A kilowatt hour is a unit of energy that is equal to one thousand watt-hours. This is a measure of energy expenditure that can be very useful in gauging how your home or building of any type for that matter is equipped to handle everything nature throws at it. Your energy provider has a scale that uses the kilowatt hour reading from your home to determine how much is owed for energy use. To help curb this nasty litter bugger, replacement windows might be in order. There are a lot of windows out there, so solid research is a great idea. Be sure to look for energy efficient windows with high quality ratings and a good cost to value ratio. Sealing your home’s perimeter and closing off any leaking gaps in the force field of your home can do wonders for your energy bill at the end of the month. Explore some of the possibilities and investigate the value that new replacement windows could bring to your home.
If you have been following along as we march diligently through every last window manufacturing term ever created by man, then you might’ve been privy to our up close and personal look at Krypton “the hidden one.” The gas that fills our insulating windows holds a few interesting secrets, so if you’re looking for a thrill, go back and read or reread our krypton expose from last week. The reason this is important to us is because it has everything to do with energy efficiency. And energy efficiency has a lot to do with window manufacturing and windows of every kind. There is no doubt that the majority of our heat loss or gain happens through our windows and doors. This is a hole that must be plugged. Energy efficiency is a hot button topic these days, and it seems that it is here to stay. Who would want to say no to saving money on heating bills, maintaining a more confortable home environment with greater ease, and saving the planet all at the same time? Not me. So, how does one go about getting this level of energy efficiency for their home environment? Well, it is actually easier than you might think. It starts with selecting the right windows for your home. The wrong windows won’t get you much closer to that promised land of cheap home heating and cooling costs, and they certainly won’t be worth the trouble. The right windows however, can mean the difference between night and day, between noon and midnight, between 6:45am and 6:45pm. The right windows can make or break the energy efficiency of a home or workplace.