Tag Archives: Efficient energy use

Have You Been Told The Truth About Impact Windows?

17 Dec

Are you one of those building or home owners who believes that hurricane impact windows will somehow “survive” or “withstand” impacts from hurricanes, theft or vandalism without breaking? Well, THE CLAIM ISN’T TRUE but don’t feel alone. Many consumers truly believe that “hurricane impact resistant windows” are unbreakable when, in actuality, no such window is available from the major U.S. window manufacturers.

Impact windows are a “sacrificial” form of impact protection that must be replaced after any one of these events occurs. Being three times or more as expensive as regular windows, replacing them every time that they break can be a real budget buster.

If you go to Youtube and perform a search for “impact window testing” you will see that impact windows will not withstand large missile impacts without being destroyed. Here are some other facts that consumers need to be aware of:

  • Impact glass alone does not determine compliance with hurricane resistance standards. Simply swapping impact glass for regular glass does nothing to strengthen the window frames or anchor the glass to the frames.
  • Most laminated “impact glass” is simply 2 pieces of regular window glass with a special clear liner sandwiched in between – the strength of each piece of glass remains the same.
  • In order to be an approved hurricane product, all impact windows are designed to break when impacted, but MUST remain anchored to the window frame and not blow out to prevent pressurization of the building interior from hurricane winds.
  • Some insurance companies only honor the cost of regular replacement windows and not the more expensive impact windows that you filed on your homeowner claim.
  • Once you file a claim for damage on your impact windows your insurance company may require that you shutter them next time or you will end up paying for their replacement out-of-pocket.
  • Due to design changes, replacement sashes/parts for current window models might not be available in 10 -15 years. You will be forced to purchase and install new windows instead of simply replacing old parts.
  • If you have windows that were installed prior to 2005, there’s a very good chance that replacement parts are currently unavailable for them.
  • The anticipated lifetime of plastic (PVC) framed windows is 20-25 years. Old growth wood framed windows can last 2-3 times longer and quality aluminum ones even longer.
  • A laminated impact window does very little to offer increased energy efficiency over a standard new window with glass of the same thickness.
  • Before opting for windows with insulated glass units, you may want to invest in secondary glazing (storm windows) for energy savings. They offer other benefits as well.
  • Impact windows must be protected with shutters or plywood to assure no breakage in the event of a storm, theft attempt, incidence of vandalism or building maintenance accident. This can also be accomplished with storm windows. When an impact window is subjected to any of these forces it will break and require replacement.
  • The actual payoff in energy savings for the more expensive insulated “super energy efficient windows” is a minimum of 40-70 years which is quite a bit longer than manufactures claim.
  • The time frame required to replace windows broken during a catastrophic storm could be months. Ask the survivors of the hurricane season of 2004.

It is important to be informed as a consumer. Don’t rely on the claims of window manufacturers to be factual. They have a tendency towards making figures and statistics fit their sales pitch. The internet is loaded with real consumer information as well as little known industry facts located in places like online window forums. Do your homework, ask questions and gather the facts. A knowledgeable consumer can save thou$and$ on storm protection while, at the same time, being better protected.

If you have hurricane shutters currently installed over your windows and are having impact windows installed, don’t throw those shutters away! They will prove invaluable in protecting your new impact windows and keep them from getting broken.

You may well be better off refurbishing your current windows and adding hurricane rated secondary glazing.

Resources:

http://www.communitypreservation.org/enews/windows.htm

http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/windows-doors/broken-window-repair-or-replace/#.

http://starcraftcustombuilders.com/windows.htm#.VJHMnckWVVE

http://www.evolutionhurricaneshutters.com

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?

Buying impact windows – before and after the sale

14 Sep

If you are one of the conscientious homeowners who stepped up to the plate and bought impact windows in recent years, good for you. They were the best thing available on the market – at the time. It’s a fact that impact glass windows do a superb job of protecting the envelope of a structure after impact, but you will see from any online video that in the process, the impact windows are absolutely demolished and will require the expense and mess of replacement. Go to Youtube, search for “impact glass test” or “impact window test” and see for yourself. In my opinion, these should be “required viewing” by any prospective window buyer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCHtON-BQsE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gu7XTW2SHW4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EEUsxe-pbA

Ok, let’s pretend that the storm has passed. Now you not only have a huge mess of broken glass to clean up, you also have the added expense of getting the broken window part replaced. If you’re lucky and you have single or double hung windows and the impact was directed to the glass only and not the frame, you might be able to replace just the glass unit. This is another important question to ask the salesperson; “Can the glass be replaced without destroying the window?” Some brands may even replace just the broken lite. You will have to check with the manufacturer to see how this effects the warranty. The next best option is replacing the window sash unit (the glass and surrounding framework). Replacing just a sash is a little more expensive but quite a bit cheaper that getting the entire window replaced.

The bottom line is, your impact windows weren’t cheap the first time around and they won’t be cheap to replace. If you received any kind of a warranty with them, read it closely. Do a check to make sure that the model of window that you purchased still has replacement parts available. You may find out that the entire company that made your windows is no longer in business. The installer who originally put them in is not who issued the warranty, so don’t him him/her too hard of a time (unless the window failure is due to improper installation). Now might be a good time to protect your investment with the addition of Evolution Hurricane Shutters.  Weigh the cost of getting just one of your main impact windows replaced vs. the cost of an Evolution Hurricane Shutter. If you want, add in the inconvenience, safety risk and mess of a broken window…..the amount of time you are going to have to wait to get your new window (they aren’t sitting on the shelf at the big box store), scheduling the replacement by the window guy (window companies get VERY busy following a major storm) and the insurance hassles that go along with your claim. Why not just avoid ALL of that in the 1st place?

The other drawback to standard impact windows is their lack of energy efficiency. When compared to a new non-impact rated window, they do little to reduce your monthly energy consumption. There are some models available that are more energy efficient called “insulated glass units” or IGUs. These are made up of a layer of impact glass and a layer of non-impact glass that are separated by a sealed air space. Sometimes the air space is filled with an inert gas (like argon or krypton) that is supposed to prevent deterioration of any metal components or glass coatings inside and to aid in energy efficiency. If you do a little industry research on them you will find that the gas slowly leaks out and and eventually does nothing for you. After the gas has leaked out, then outside air is allowed to be drawn in. This will also make your windows start to get cloudy and allow condensation inside the air space. Another point to pay close attention to is that these windows need to be installed perfectly plumb within the opening. Any wracking or twisting of these windows at the time of installation will result in breaking the seal and your windows will cloud up, usually starting in the corners. This clouding is an indication that your windows are no longer doing the job that you paid extra bucks for them to do. Also inside this “IGU” is a moisture absorbing substance referred to as “desiccant”. This will hide the seal failure for a while, but not forever and that’s when the condensation will appear inside your IGU.

Evolution Hurricane Shutters have been designed not only to protect your expensive hurricane impact windows, but to make them more energy efficient. We guarantee that the heat loss or gain through your window areas will be reduced! This is just one more reason why we say that Evolution Hurricane Shutters are “The rEvolution in Hurricane Protection”.

Please don’t get me wrong! I’m not down on impact glass – I recommend it to almost every one of my commercial property owners. Every strip mall or shopping plaza needs to have impact glass in the entrance doors. I don’t sell them and make no recommendation on which brands to buy (maybe I should start). My goal is to get impact resistant and energy efficient Evolution Hurricane Shutters on all of the storefronts and windows while recommending energy efficient impact glass doors on the entrance(s). When the project is complete, not only will the shopkeeper be able to simply lock the front door and leave when there is a hurricane bearing down on the area but, every night at closing time he or she will be certain that the energy saving and added security of Evolution Hurricane Shutters will be working overtime.

2 story plaza in Marco island

Typical strip plaza application.