The push for Solar energy is wonderful, however an alarming amount of energy is pouring out the window, literally.
The problem is, the majority of windows in Australian homes are single glazed and the amount of energy going through the glass is quite astonishing. According the Government web site http://www.yourhome.gov.au/technical/fs410.html one square metre of glass puts the same heat into a room as a one bar radiator.
In winter ten times more heat escapes through the glass than through a standard insulated home wall. This explains some of our energy consumption in this country and a major disadvantage for those who are trying to minimize their electricity bills and especially those who are selling power back to the grid.
The financial return on Solar is affected by the energy burned keeping homes either cool or warm depending on the season. If the windows are single glazed, it is much more difficult to reduce energy consumption and have some left over to sell.
An innovation released this year solves a major problem with doing something about single glazing. Known as retrofitting double glazing, a Queensland based company is rolling out sites across Australia that can replace the single pane of glass with a full standard genuine double glaze sealed and gassed unit.
They produce them off the same automated double glazing line that produces the units for new windows. The only distinction is that all the retrofit double glazing is 25mm thick where new window units are sometimes thinner and sometimes thicker.
The glass combinations used are identical so just like a high tech energy efficient home has different combinations in different walls depending on which way they face, these can be ordered in exactly the same way.
The cost is actually very reasonable because the work is the same as simply having broken glass replaced. They just put the unit back (with some clever adaptors) where the old glass was sitting. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” moments when you see them.
The product has been 5 years in development and now there are distributors in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide who are setting up just to do this particular type of replacement.
While it seems impossible to do, by using the appropriate connections, the glazier can do the job on a standard window is about the same time it would take if the glass had to be replaced after a breakage. As a result there are thousands of glaziers in Australia who could do this with a little information about the process.
A full house replacement is roughly between a quarter and a third of the cost of new windows at around the $7,000 mark and it can be done in a single day. Once installed it is difficult to see that anything is changed as the adaptors are usually matched to the window and its hard to see where the window finishes and the adaptor starts.
Probably the most amazing thing of all, they work with aluminium, timber and steel windows.
There is quite a bit of information on the web site www.silentwindows.com.au .
One thing that many people will find interesting on their website is a measuring sheet download that shows tips and tricks used by the professionals to estimate the size of windows and doors for quoting.
It’s impressive to see a professional write up sizes of openings without pulling out the tape measure. It has always had the aura of a magic trick but now the tricks have been put on the web.
This is particularly useful if you don’t want to make an appointment for some rep to turn up late. It’s just a matter of running up a list of windows sizes and getting the quote over the phone.
I suppose its not surprising the company that created the innovation also has an innovative approach to quoting. They complete more than 98% of all quotes without the need for a site visit. Even if the sizes are wrong by a fair margin, so long as you haven’t left any off the list, they will stick to the quote. Its all done by email and photos these days. Good Aussie innovation.