PVC windows are not necessarily thought to be beautiful. They are, though, the most energy efficient form of letting natural light into a property. They are long lasting, chemically resistant and have an excellent heat transfer coefficient, ensuring that the cold air stays out and the warm air stays in during thewinter – and that the heat of a hot day does not raise the temperature inside a house too much.
Heat transfer coefficiecny refers to the rate at which the temperature of molecules on one side of a double or triple glazed pane is moved to the other side. For the purposes of home refurbishment, an excellent heat transfer coefficient is one with a very low rating – that is, where the temperature on one side of the divide takes as long as possible to come through to the other side of that divide.
The primary purpose, then, for fitting PVC windows in a property is that they give the best insulation at an affordable price. The cost of comparably sized solid wood frames, which need to be treated and maintained annually to stop them rotting, can be far greater than the cost of PVC.
Wood, though, is traditionally thought to look better – or at least to give the traditional look and feel to a home. So in some situations, a decorative decision may be made that either costs a lot of money (where new wooden windows are installed to improve the energy efficiency of a home); or that results in old and no longer adequate glazing being left in situ, because of its wooden frames.
The reality is slightly different from the conception, in that modern PVC windows may be manufactured to fit with more appropriateness into the window holes left by old wooden frames. Bevelled edges and traditionally formed shapes, in these cases, retain an air of tradition without compromising the homeowner in terms either of cost or of practicalities.
Every modern window is rated for its energy efficiency. In a new build, regulations demand that the builder fit windows with the highest possible energy rating, ensuring that future energy use within the house is as low as it can be.
Modern windows may be more energy efficient than similar PVC windows installed some time ago. In some cases, this has led to home owners replacing their existing PVC with more PVC in the hope that the energy efficiency of the home may be elevated to a level where current fuel prices can be offset by improved heat retention.
Glazing is a vital step in the fuel efficiency equation. It is not, however, the only one. The truly fuel efficient home combines modern insulation and floor coverings with its windows to reduce the amount of time heating needs to be on, or the median temperature it must reach before it begins to warm a room.
Insulated plasterboard may significantly lower the overall amount of energy needed to keep a home warm. Foam insulation backed with foil returns heat to its source, keeping a flow of warm air within the room in question. Whilst proper underlay and floor insulation can stop heat leaking between ground floor and first floor locations. Even reflective paint may be used in the final home décor touches, to stop warmth generated by heating leaking out through the walls.
Author bio: Barbara Blench is a former architect. She now writes a monthly energy efficiency column. Her articles on pvc windows have also appeared in trade journals.