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The Magic of Low-E Glass

July 29th, 2009
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If you step in any window dealer or manufacturer showroom, including Primary Seal,  you would hear about high efficiency windows with glass units that have Low-E + Argon. However, if you begin asking about the details of how this technology works, you may hear a variety of explanations followed by pictographic attempts at illustrating how this technology works. In my experience, both salespersons and clients alike use these terms often but understand little about the inner workings of Low-E technology.

So, let us shed some light on this magical Low-E glass.

As usual, something that appears magical either involves a trick or can be eventually described using physics. Since Low-E glass is no trick, we move on to the physics. Now, I will keep the detail to a minimum but try and stick with me for a moment. Low-E stands for low emissivity or emittance. Low Emittance glass radiates or emits low levels of radiant energy. Any object that has been heated either by the sun or another heat source will radiate heat. Radiated heat is also known as long-wave radiation, and, it is this type of radiation that the Low-E glass is designed to repel. Direct sunlight provides a different type of energy known as short-wave radiation which the Low-E glass allows to pass through in a certain proportion depending on the climate for which it was designed. When short-wave radiation hits an object, that object becomes heated and then proceeds to radiate heat in the form of long-wave radiation.

Keeping the above in mind, let’s look at a couple of examples:

The Winter – It is cold outside and hot inside. Your entire home is heated by your furnace and all the objects in your home are radiating heat. Heat hits the pane of Low-E glass as it tries to escape from your home, but only a part of it escapes while a part of it is reflected back into your home. Along with this, during the day, the sun’s radiation will pass through the windows in some amount and heat the objects in your house which then radiate heat … and this becomes a repetitive cycle.

The Summer – It is hot outside and cold inside. Your air conditioner is working overtime to cool off your home but the heat from the outside keeps wanting to come in. As pavement, sidewalks, and the earth itself radiate the heat of the sun, the Low-E glass reflects a significant portion of this radiation back outside. The sun does penetrate the windows somewhat, and it will slightly heat the objects in your home. However, less short-wave solar radiation enters your home when compared with clear glass and the winter heat gains are more important in our climate.

A bonus feature of Low-E glass is that it repels harmful UV radiation which damages furniture, hardwood floors, and carpet.

Low-E glass is described generally by two variables: solar heat gain (SHG in percent) and light transmission. For example, the glass that Weather Seal Windows uses is called ClimaGuard 75/68, meaning it has 75% light transmission and 68% solar heat gain. A high solar heat gain is ideal for our climate as we spend more money on heating and much less on cooling as we have a short summer. To give you a comparison, a hot climate like New Mexico or Arizona would use ClimaGuard 55/27. It is also important to see that windows designed for cooler climates allow more light to pass through, making for a brighter home and an acceptable decrease in lighting when compared to clear glass.

So how is Low-E glass made you ask?

Well that part is mostly due to high-tech manufacturing and sadly not very magical. Low-E glass is made by applying a thin, almost invisible layer of a metallic compound (usually tin or silver) to the surface of the glass. There are two ways to apply this coat. The first is called a “hard” coat and is a process which is performed while the glass sheet is still hot. While this process is very resilient because the metal is virtually fused with the glass – hence, the term “hard” –  it is not as energy efficient as the “soft” coat, a process which is applied after the glass is cooled. The way in which they apply the “soft” coat involves splattering little metallic droplets in a vacuum on a sheet of glass in an electrically charged chamber. The “soft” coat process is very delicate however, and Low-E glass made with this process must be sealed in a glass unit, as the metal particles cannot be exposed to moisture, abrasion, or air. Weather Seal Windows only uses “soft” coat Low-E glass as the energy performance is far superior to the “hard” coat Low-E.

What about the Argon?

The argon gas inside most insulated glass units today is there for two reasons: to increase energy efficiency and protect the Low-E coating from oxidation. Argon gas does increase the energy efficiency of the glass unit by a small percentage, however its main purpose is to protect the Low-E coating. Oxidation or rusting of any metal will occur if air and moisture are present. It is for that reason that an inert (unreactive) gas like argon is pumped into insulated glass units in order to prevent unwanted oxidation.

Low-E glass is becoming an industry standard as more and more companies – including Weather Seal Windows – are certified as part of the Energy Star program. This program tests the energy efficiency of windows to meet certain baseline standards in order that consumers are able to identify a window as highly efficient when it bears the Energy Star logo sticker.

If you have any questions or comments we would love to hear from you.

Energy Efficiency, Windows , , , , , , , ,

New homebuyers embracing energy efficiency

July 1st, 2009
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(NC)—There are selling points and then there are selling points. Energy efficiency continues to be one of the most sought after features among home buyers in Canada today; in fact a recent survey of homebuyers in Ottawa and Toronto showed that 94 per cent of respondents agreed that energy efficiency reduces operating costs even if they are perceived to cost more upfront.

Why? Because, according to industry experts, energy-efficient homes are less expensive to operate, more comfortable to live in and more environmentally-friendly, especially ones that carry the federal government’s highly recognizable R-2000 or ENERGY STAR label. The R-2000 standard and many regional initiatives for energy-efficient homes across Canada such as ENERGY STAR for New Homes, Built Green, Yukon GreenHome, and PowerSmart use Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide rating service as the quality assurance tool for the energy efficiency of the home. The ERS determines the home’s level of energy efficiency on a scale from 0-100.

Homeowners can save hundreds of dollars every year in heating and fuel costs and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by two to three tonnes just by buying or upgrading to an energy-efficient home.

More information is available on this topic at www.newhomes.nrcan.gc.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Energy Efficiency ,

Build energy efficiency into your home building plans

June 29th, 2009
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homebuilders Building a home takes money no matter how you cut it. Natural Resources Canada, the federal government department that administers the EnerGuide Rating System in Canada, is reminding Canadians to do their homework this summer when it comes to building a new home. Even though many Canadians perceive energy efficiency costs more, upgrades and features can save you money in the long run and reduce your environmental footprint. More information is available on this topic at www.newhomes.nrcan.gc.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Energy Efficiency

10 questions to ask your builder before you buy an energy-efficient home

June 8th, 2009
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(NC)—Home buyers may assume their new home is energy-efficient, but may not know for sure unless they ask. Ask these questions to be sure:

  • Any builder can claim to build energy-efficient homes. How do I know your homes are truly energy efficient?
  • Since all builders must meet the requirements of the building code, what makes your homes different from other builders’ homes?
  • How do your building techniques reflect the latest developments in housing technology?
  • What steps do you take to improve the energy efficiency of the homes you build?
  • Can you predict what my energy costs will be?
  • What makes your homes more environmentally friendly than others?
  • Are you licensed by the government to build energy-efficient homes?
  • Do you affix a government-backed energy label to the home?
  • Do independent, licensed professionals inspect the quality of your homes?
  • Do you build homes that receive an EnerGuide rating of 80 or higher or its equivalent?

The answers to these questions are contained in a brochure produced by Natural Resources Canada, the federal government department that administers the rating system for energy-efficient homes in Canada through its EnerGuide Rating System. To order a copy of the brochure or for more information call 1-800-387-2000 (toll-free) or visit www.newhomes.nrcan.gc.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Energy Efficiency ,

What does the EnerGuide label really mean?

June 4th, 2009
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(NC)—Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) provides an energy efficiency rating tool for houses that could be used on all new houses built in Canada under its EnerGuide Rating System (ERS).The ERS label lets you know how your home stacks up in terms of its energy performance. It shows you, and future buyers, exactly how energy-efficient your home is. So how does the EnerGuide Rating System work? Your home’s energy efficiency level is rated on a scale of 0 to 100. A rating of 0 represents a home with major air leakage, no insulation and extremely high energy consumption. A rating of 100 represents a house that is airtight, well-insulated, sufficiently ventilated and requires no purchased energy. For a brand new house, a rating of 80 or higher is excellent. Read more…

Energy Efficiency ,

Home Renovation Tax Credit

May 1st, 2009
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Home renovations are smart investments in the long term value of a home and also create economic activity by increasing the demand for labour, building materials and other goods. Renovations can also reduce energy consumption and the long-term cost of owning a home.

To provide some $3 billion of much-needed fiscal stimulus and encourage investments in Canada’s housing stock, Budget 2009 proposes to implement a temporary Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC).

Read more…

Energy Efficiency ,


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