Energy Saving Hurricane Shutters

28 Aug

Sunlight creates heat

I know….quite the Earth-shattering statement, right? But there’s nothing like pointing out the obvious. Almost any type of hurricane shutter will save some energy if in no other way but by blocking sunlight, creating shade and thereby blocking the sun’s rays from hitting objects within your home that create heat. The problem is, the energy is only saved when the shutter is deployed. Roll-downs, accordions, corrugated metal panels, colonials, fabric panels, screens and Bahamas all block out a certain amount of sunlight and shade the window when they are deployed. But when they’re deployed, they block, and sometimes totally eliminate, the view completely. The other catch is that they only make shade during the daytime when the sun is shining. Your windows still lose and gain heat all night long.

Temperature differential

There are other forces of energy that bring heat into your home. One way to demonstrate this is at nighttime when there are no sun rays. Here are 2 scenarios to entertain…..a hot August night or a cold January one. Simply place your hand on the window and what do you feel? If it’s August and the A/C is keeping your home at a comfortable 72 degrees and it’s still 80 degrees outside, you’re going to feel warm glass. If it’s in the dead of winter and it’s 20 degrees outside and your heating system is keeping it a toasty 76 degrees inside, the window is going to feel cold. Pretty simple stuff, right? It’s known as temperature differential. But there’s more to it than that……and I’m kind of getting off topic here, but bear with me. It all comes around full circle in the end.

The window war

The warmer air on the inside of the glass seeks out the cold of the outside of the glass while the cold on the outside is seeking the warm of the inside. Depending upon which force is stronger determines if the outside of the glass is warmed by the inside or if the inside of the glass is cooled by the outside. It’s a kind of “window war”. Whichever side has more “push” wins the battle. What determines the “push”? The push is greatly influenced by the circulating air on each side of the window. On the inside, there is calm circulation – a ceiling fan, movements of people or pets and the circulation created by your heating or cooling systems. On the outside?? – the force of Mother Nature – the WIND.

So, which side of the window do you think has the greatest “push”? Anyone who thinks that any answer other than “Mother Nature” is the right one, has to come and sit in the front row for the rest of the class! The ceaseless power of Nature always seems to have the upper hand. That’s why your windows feel the way that they do on the hot August night or the cold January night. Mother nature is always winning. If you were to go out side the glass will feel the same as the outside temperature – another sure way to see that Mother nature is winning. We’ll revisit Mother Nature later on in this post.

The analogy that I just described isn’t precisely the way that it works in science, (because science tells us that there’s no such thing as cold – only an absence of heat) but it helps to make my point about the energy battle of window glass. One important concept to grasp at this point in the discussion is that glass is a VERY poor insulator and conducts heat and cold all too well. It also breaks and we will revisit these facts later on, also.

Peace in the window war or merely a truce?

Glass manufacturers set out to make peace between the inside and outside energies so they came up with the ingenious idea of protecting the layer of window glass with another layer of window glass and separating them with an air space. They then sealed them around the edges so that nothing could get in or out. This helped to bring the advantage of the outside force to a more equal level of the inside force because there was no longer any “wind” on the opposing sides of either layer of glass. These became known as “insulated glass units” (IGUs, for short) and the window industry latched onto the idea and made windows by the tens of thousands.

There was, however, one slight problem. The air that was sealed tightly inside would change from getting warm during the day to getting cold at night plus all of the temperature fluctuations through the 24 hours of a single day. Every time the wind blew, every time a cloud came over, every time it rained….well, you get the idea – A LOT of temperature changes in a single day. If you multiply that by just 7 days of a week, that amounts to many times more changes. These changes in temperature cause the trapped air to expand and contract and it does this with every temperature change and, over time, would eventually weaken the seals and seep out of the air space. This allows the more humid air from outside of the air space, into it and causes the IGUs to get cloudy. In an effort to try and disguise the fact that moisture was getting in, they put a powder inside the window to soak up the moisture, but it only delays the inevitable. No matter what is tried, this temperature “cycling” up and down can’t be stopped. This is the other one of Mother Nature’s forces that I referred to earlier that can’t be controlled. To this day it is universally accepted that there will always be this problem until someone perfects a way to equalize the internal IGU’s air space pressures with those outside of the air space without them mixing together. There is simply no way to stop the expansion and contraction cycling that occurs inside. No matter what brand of window that you use, if it is an IGU that uses a sealant system around the perimeter (they all do), it will never be guaranteed not to leak – most don’t make it past 8 years. Independent studies have shown that every year, a sealed IGU loses a MINIMUM of 1-2% of the air (or gas) inside and then starts replacing is with regular humid air from the atmosphere. Keep this in mind when someone tries to convince you that fancy internal gases like Argon or Krypton are the cat’s meow of IGUs. Although they don’t expand and contract as much as the air that we breath, they still do it – it’s just physics and can’t be stopped.

This entire process of making IGUs takes place in a factory where the air qualities like temperature and humidity are controlled and also to reduce the amount or dust and other foreign particles that might make their way into an IGU. These facilities do a very good job. however all of this comes at a high price and, of course, gets passed on to you and I, the consumers.

Someone please stop the madness!

Let me digress a little more, without totally digressing. You see, the same folks who thought up the idea of making IGUs (that they concede won’t last long) decided to take two pieces of glass and sandwich them around a super-tough plastic sheet that has very high tear strength. They took this “glass sandwich” and put it in a window frame, called it “impact glass” and made tens of thousands of more windows with it. Why they use the word “impact” to describe it, is beyond me, because the one thing that it ISN’T good for is impacts!! Here’s a video that shows that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp6Nl9ZBMHE . I picked this video at random – there are dozens of others that show the same thing. Do these windows look like they can stand up to impact to you? What these windows happen to do well is keeping a large missile (or projectile) traveling at 50 feet per second from penetrating completely through the window and creating a hole. If a hole were to be created, we know that wind can then enter a structure and increase the pressure inside that will allow the roof to be blown upward and possibly off of the building.

So here’s the new scenario…..They take these VERY expensive impact IGU windows (sometimes 3 to 4 times the cost of regular windows), sell them to the consumer, install them in their homes and after a storm passes, you, the homeowner, now have – you guessed it – VERY expensive BROKEN windows. I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but this approach makes absolutely NO SENSE to me. Why design something 3 to 4 times as expensive that will break so that you have to buy it again and again each time it breaks?? Am i wrong here??

An intervention of common sense

So….is there a way of reducing heat gain and loss though your windows without defying the laws of Mother Nature? Well, in fact there is…..and it has been around for a long time. It’s done by using storm windows and it’s even recognized as a proven method of reducing the amount of heat loss or gain through any window. Here’s the link to The United States Department of Energy website that discusses the topic: http://energy.gov/articles/5-steps-making-your-windows-more-energy-efficient  . There are many other sites, both government and private, that will echo this method of energy conservation as prudent.

The mission

What if there was a way to use this old tried and true method of saving energy and combine it with a hi-tech material that won’t break like glass and is a better insulator, too?? That way we wouldn’t have to put so much effort into defying the forces of physics and Mother Nature.

I’m here to tell you that there is a way to do it and it’s with a product that has been around a long time. Not as long as the idea of storm windows has been around, but as long ago as the 1950s. How about this idea ………..instead of making something that breaks, why not make something that DOESN’T BREAK??? Instead of using a cheaply produced PVC frame that will only last 20 years, why not use super strong aluminum pieces that will last 100 years? And instead of making a sealed (but leaky) IGU, why not combine these materials and use the U.S, Depart. of Energy’s proven method of making it like a storm window to save energy? What you would end up with is something without an expensive IGU (that has yet to be made 100% reliable) and without the fragile characteristic of impact glass.

Winning the battle

If this sounds like a win-win concept to you, it did to me, too, so here’s a video showing the end product in a live demonstration. There’s no glass to break because this ’50s era material is called polycarbonate – a plastic that is 200 times stronger than glass, a fraction of the weight and a much better insulator. There’s also no seals to fail and no huge, expensive, dustless or atmosphere controlled building required to assemble it.

Take a look at the video below and tell me what you think. But before you do, keep in mind that this energy saving hurricane shutter will protect ANY window – new or old, impact or non-impact in just about any shape. And because it doesn’t require a huge, expensive factory these can be sold to the public for 1/2 the cost of the expensive IGU impact windows (that break and lose their seal). It’s called by everyone who sees it “the hurricane shutter that doesn’t look like a hurricane shutter” and I think you’ll see why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGFx9jY7_NE 

So, now that you have watched the video. Are you:

  1. Surprised?
  2. Astonished?
  3. Impressed?
  4. Curious?
  5. All of the above?

If you want to know more visit:The hurricane shutter that doesn’t look like a hurricane shutter. and find out more. Maybe they’re just what you’re looking for?

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