31 Jul, 2017
We all need heat in winter; it is impossible to do without! However, two physical properties of low-emissivity (LowE) glass with argon gas make it possible to reduce heating costs: Using the sun’s rays during the day and minimizing heat loss at night.
To obtain low-emissivity glass, a very thin layer of metallic coating is applied to the exterior surface of the inside pane of a double-glazed sealed unit. The coating, invisible to the naked eye, blocks the short waves (UV) and obstructs the long waves (infrared). This filter reduces the sun’s heat during summer days, increases heat gain in winter and the heating system’s radiant heat from seeping out the windows at night.
To counteract drafts or the coldness felt when nearing a window, our most common reaction is to turn up the heat. Most air leaks or heat loss can be eliminated by the flawless installation of energy-efficient windows. When we feel comfortable, we tend to leave the thermostat alone.
In an energy-efficient home, proper windows contribute to maintaining low heating costs in the winter and low air-conditioning costs in the summer. During very hot days, low-emissivity glass does the same work as in winter: it obstructs infrared rays and blocks the UV rays responsible for the premature wear of window treatments. Therefore, during the day, it is easier to tolerate the sun than with ordinary glass. The interior of the home is cooler and more comfortable and air conditioning is less costly.
In most Canadian regions, heating costs are much higher than air-conditioning costs. It is therefore recommended that windows be chosen based on the Energy Rating (ER). However, in sunnier and warmer regions, where air-conditioning costs exceed heating costs, it is preferable to choose windows that only reduce solar energy gain.
The very dry air in winter causes several inconveniences such as static electricity each time you touch a handle or switch, dry skin, irritated nose and throat, unattractive plants and furniture damage. Remember that hot air is always absorbed by cold air. Therefore, if there are weak spots around a door or window, the warm air from inside the home will be drawn toward the outside along with the home’s natural moisture.
To restore a comfortable level of humidity, a humidifier can be installed but it is difficult to maintain a consistent, balanced and stable level of humidity. Also, certain areas of the home always remain dry while others are excessively humid. Windows fog up and black microfungi appear on wooden frames.
In order to prevent unbalanced levels of humidity, it is best to ensure a proper interior/exterior ratio. As such, installing high-efficiency, weatherproof doors and windows that are easy to open at all times is advisable for adequate ventilation. Such windows prevent air leakage and excessive loss of moisture. In fact, since they do not conduct heat and the glass and frame do not get cold, there is nowhere for condensation to form.
A third glass can be added between two panes to improve soundproofing and prevent the transmission of soundwaves. It is possible to trap inert gases such as argon (most common) and krypton (less common) between two panes of glass. These gases are heavier than air and their molecules more difficult to set in motion. As a result, they only slightly react to heat fluctuation and tend to muffle soundwaves. Consequently, when inserted between two panes of glass, these inert gases form thermal as well as sound barriers.
It seems obvious but we tend to forget that the main property of a window is its ability to let in a large quantity of light! Drawing on natural light reduces energy consumption in two ways.
First, it is not necessary to turn the lights on during the day. Secondly, 15% of the energy consumed by a light bulb is transformed into light and 85% into heat. Consequently, the fewer lights we turn on in summer, the lower our need for air conditioning. This double benefit results in considerable savings, particularly in large buildings with central air conditioning.
Secondly, 15% of the energy consumed by a light bulb is transformed into light and 85% into heat. Consequently, the fewer lights we turn on in summer, the lower our need for air conditioning. This double benefit results in considerable savings, particularly in large buildings with central air conditioning.
Beautiful large windows provide much more light and raise our psyche by lending a feeling of well-being and freedom –we can see our neighbours pass by and no longer feel like a prisoner in our own home. In short, we feel like a part of life!
Windows that can be opened year round motivate us to restore the tradition of airing out our home each day to let in fresh air and drive out any excess humidity. Also, it is healthy to let the sun in since it is the largest natural sanitizer.
Why deprive yourself of all these advantages?