Wednesday 28 August 2013

Double Glazed Windows Improve Home Security

The world has become a scary place and it requires us to take precautions no matter where we are. While at home, this means keeping windows and doors locked and not allowing strangers into the residence without proper identification. When replacing windows for the home, consider double glazed windows. Security is improved because two panes of glass are used rather than just one.
Robberies and burglaries are a constant concern throughout the cities of Ireland, especially in the Dublin area. Research indicates that 60 percent of burglars gain access to a home by breaking window glass or forcing open the window frame. Remember, so long as they don't make a noise burglars are not concerned whether they damage your home or not.
Therefore, window security is extremely important, especially in the areas where burglars can get access easily. This is not necessarily just the front of the home, because if there is a low fence at the back, which is next to a public path or open countryside, it is easy for intruders to get to the back of the house, especially in the hours of darkness.
Newly built homes are usually fitted with locking windows that feature double glazing, which includes two panes of glass. A double glazed window is difficult to break. Usually, the intruder will break one glass, and then have to break the second afterward, so they will make quite a lot of noise because once they see they have not broken through, they will be in a hurry to get in and out. Of course, when the window is broken, a lot of noise is created.
Your family will have ample notice of the intruder, increasing the chances that they can call for help. Adding features like multiple locks, hinged security devices, and double-locking handles makes the windows safer.
When no extra bolting or locking mechanism is included, the security aspect of a double glazed window is determined by the frame type. Unlike wooden frames, PVCU frames cannot be forced open from the outside of the home. This plastic provides a tighter seal around the window glass and will not shrink over time. They are also strong.
For homes that feature PVCu double glazed windows, commonly referred to as PVC windows, security becomes less of a concern. PVCu is the most popular material used to make windows and double glazing effectively deters intruders. A family can feel safer when living within a home fitted with double glazed windows, which also insulate the house and reduce outside noise pollution. Of course, one of the main benefits of double glazing is that the house becomes free of draughts and keeps warmer in winter, and cooler in summer

Spend More on Double Glazing to Save Money – Almost Straight Away

You might think all double glazing is the same, but that is not true. Over the past decade there has been a lot of progress in the engineering of double glazing windows, so the best are now far more efficient than those installed around 2000.

Some people try to save money on double glazing by cutting corners, taking the cheap option. For example, they may buy double glazing without a guarantee or any certification of the performance of the windows.
Some suppliers may offer these older, simpler designs at lower costs, but if you choose them, you will end up paying more for your energy for the life of the windows. Also, if they are of inferior quality, they may leak, or let draughts in and generally perform badly. This is a real risk. The answer here is to make sure the performance of your glazing units, and the life of them is guaranteed. You should get a 10 year guarantee.
Even if they choose good quality double glazing units people often decide to have part of the house double glazed only. For example, the double glazing may be installed in one or two rooms, such as the living room and the master bedroom. Or maybe the windows on the cold side of the house.
Then, six months later, they decide it is so much better that they have more double glazing installed, and they pay for a lot of work to be done again. This is fairly obvious, but few people realise it.
If you have only part of your house double glazed, you will pay more for the heating than if you had the whole house done, and over time you will almost certainly pay more than you saved.

Why Two Small Projects Cost More Than One Large One

Why do two small double glazing projects, say one for the front of the house, and one for the other cold side, cost more than if they had been done at once? These small installations probably don't save much over the cost of double glazing the whole house. In all cases, though, you carry on paying for more energy than you would if you had the whole house double glazed at the same time. This is important.
What normally happens, is that to spread the cost over a few years, people decide to double glaze the most critical areas of the house, and later on have more done. In some cases, they have two installations, and in others three, spread over one to three years.
The simple fact is that if the double glazers have to do two job their costs will be higher. For example:
  • The estimator, who estimates the cost, needs to visit the house two or three times instead of once;
  • The window surveyor, who measures the windows exactly, needs to visit the house two or three times instead of once;
  • The installation team can double glaze a complete house more efficiently than doing a few windows;
  • Fewer deliveries need to be made for a single installation, than for two (each delivery costs almost the same);
  • The rubbish which is collected during the installation has to be disposed of each time, and as it is commercial rubbish, there is cost involved;
  • The supplier of your alarm system will need to refit the alarm each time, again increasing cost;
  • The storage of your installation details for guarantee purposes (10 year guarantee) costs more;
  • You will spend more on energy in the period between the first and last installation of double glazing.
Overall, you can see it is most cost-effective to have your whole house double glazed as one project. But how can you pay for it? You may be able to add that cost to your mortgage, as it is increasing the value of your house. Otherwise, you may be able to get a loan for double glazing your house from credit unions and banks, so you don't have to pay for it all up-front.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Why Composite Doors are so Effective

There is such a wide choice of materials for doors that it can be quite confusing. You can have a front door made of wood, aluminium, steel, PVCu, glass reinforced plastic (GRP) or composite materials. Some are new designs, and some are traditional ones, but all exterior doors need to meet a wide variety of criteria.

Composite doors are the most effective all round because they are made from different materials, each matched to its function.

A front door generally needs to offer a high level of security, and a high level of insulation. You also want your doors to look nice, and to retain that appearance for many years.

Composite door can do all of these things well. For example, the frame can be made of a very strong material, the panels can be made of a material that provides the appearance you require, while the core can be designed both to provide good insulation and add to the stiffness.

Separate Frame, Panels and Core

Generally, a composite door consists of a frame, outer panels, and a core. The frame provides the strength needed to support the door and to carry the locks and hinges, while the outer skin needs to be strong enough to prevent an intruder breaking in, and also needs to look good.

The core provides the insulation needed to meet regulations on heat transfer, and is very important in keeping a house warm in the winter – it is all very well having double glazing, but the overall thermal efficiency of the house will be lower if you retain old doors which do not fit well, and are made of traditional materials.

The outer panels are either glass reinforced plastic mouldings or thermoplastics, or the core is either high density polyurethane foam or wood, which some makers use as it is a material with which they have a lot of experience. As a general rule, polyurethane foam will provide better insulation.

Some of the best doors have GRP panels and frames, which have steel reinforcements, and a polyurethane foam core. The steel reinforcements provide extra strength where needed.

Some composite doors have a monocoque construction. This means that the frame and panels are integrated in the same way that they are in a modern car body. The advantage of this construction is that the door is not too heavy, but can be designed with the strength exactly where it is needed. The front and rear panels are reinforced with a GRP structure, and these are all bonded together to make the monocoque structure.
You don't need to be concerned about the strength of GRP doors so long as they have good security ratings as the basic mouldings can be very strong. GRP panels are still used on many expensive cars owing to their strength and light weight, and GRP monocoque car bodies have been built successfully.

Some door manufacturers use steel frames to carry the locks and hinges, others use wooden or GRP frames. This depends largely on their background and manufacturing facilities.

Most leading makers of front doors offer double or triple glazing for the windows so that both security and insulation are increased. Of course any modern door should be available to hang on the right or left side of the door, to swing inward or outward, whichever is needed. You should also make sure the doors you buy have security locks and high energy efficiency.

Read more in our Composite Doors Section

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Saturday 3 August 2013

Is Triple Glazing Worth the Cost?

With the need for improved insulation in houses there is a lot of talk about triple glazing, which offers better insulation than double glazing. But each time you improve the performance of glazing, so the cost increases. Also, the benefits of the improvements are less marked. So, the question is whether the cost provides benefits in Ireland, where long, cold winters are infrequent.

As you might expect, the Norwegians, Swedes and North Germans have been leading the way in improved window insulation because they get long hard winters. How do you measure the insulation performance of windows? There is an international standard which rates the window, not just the glass, but also the frame, for insulation, and this is called the U-value. The better the insulation the lower the number.

From over 5 to 3, and then to 1.2

The U-value for a traditional single-pane window was over 5.0, and by 2000 double glazing was achieving values of 3.0, which was a big improvement. However, in the interests of reducing energy consumption, the EU and European governments are demanding lower values, led by the Scandinavians and Germans.

Up to about the year 2000, double glazed windows had fairly narrow voids between the two panes of glass, so although the improvement in insulation was significant, people living in cold climates wanted better insulation. The result was that the distance between the two panes was increased, the cavities were filled with gas, and then coatings that reduced the transmission of heat were applied to the glass. With these improvements, the U-value has been reduced to about 1.2.

However, the German PassivHaus standard requires a U-value of 0.8, a major reduction over the best double glazed windows. It may be unnecessarily low for the mild Irish climate. To reduce the U-value of windows to 0.8 you need triple glazing. However, triple-glazed windows that meet this standard are quite a bit more expensive than double glazed windows.

One of the reasons for the demand for improved insulation is that people would like a more uniform comfort level in the home. People don't like the fact that when they stand before a window, it is colder than when they stand near a wall. It is the old story: when our comfort improves we take it for granted, and want more. Of course, a better comfort level can be a sales feature for a new house, or an older house being sold.

Here are some figures that show the difference in the air temperature near the inside of a window:

Single-glaze window1 deg C
Double-glazed window (made in about 2000)11 deg C
Double-glazed window, latest design16 deg C
Triple-glazed window18 deg C

There is very little gain in comfort with triple glazing over double glazing, but a very big gain with double glazing compared with single-glazing. It can be argued that as it is coldest at night, the use of heavy full-length curtains can do almost as much as triple glazing to improve comfort in the home when it is coldest.
Even so, there is definitely a trend toward the use of triple glazing in the northernmost countries in the EU, mainly as a result of changes in legislation and building regulations, which are demanding better insulation of windows.

Whether you should choose triple glazing over double glazing depends on a number of factors such as your energy costs, how comfortable you believe your house is, and whether you live in a cold area or a milder one. However, there is extra cost both in the triple-glazed units themselves and also in the amount of energy needed to produce the windows. Some experts doubt whether these costs outweigh the advantages of triple glazing over double glazing.

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