Double Glazing in Europe vs. Australia
Over the last week, I Connected on Linkedin with Dimitri Geleen, who’s a creative IT professional with broad experience in Project Delivery, IT Ops and Business Analysis. Dimitri works in Berlin. So what’s the connection with double glazing, you ask?
Well, in the course of our discussion, Dimitri mentioned that he has double glazing. Now that’s hardly surprising. In most of Europe, double glazed windows and doors are the standard. In many cases, it’s triple glazing. Of course, in Australia, we’re very late to the double glazing game, and still trying to convince the local building industry to recognise that double glazing should be our standard, too. If we really cared about housing affordability, we’d give weight to the value of cutting our ridiculously high heating and cooling bills.
Anyway…. I asked Dimitri to tell me a little about his use of double glazing. So he did. Tell me a little. But, the little he told me was very powerful.
He sent me the photo you see above, with the words
“I made a picture of my little private office in Berlin with almost over 100 year old double glazing. Thought you might enjoy that.”
Enjoy that? I LOVE it. Shows that local practice is 100 years behind Germany.
So, are you a little shocked that we’re 100 years behind Germany? Well, buckle up your seat belt, because we’re some 2000 years behind the Romans!
Double Glazing In Ancient Rome
Yes, the ancient Romans used glass in windows, but not the clear glass we use today. Nevertheless, they went one step further.
According to Wikipedia, they found out that insulated glazing (or “double glazing”) greatly improved their ability to keep buildings warm, and this technique was used in the construction of public baths. Over 2000 years later, the vast majority of Australian homes still don’t have double glazing
No slouches in the field of energy efficiency, the Romans also developed underfloor heating, which today usually takes the form of hydronic heating, circulating hot water through a concrete slab floor. Australia, catch up!
Good Window Design & The Importance of Double Glazing
Is Double Glazing Worth The Money?
IS double glazing worth the money you invest? The answer is YES, but ONLY if it is installed correctly, without a cold bridge (thermal bridge). A window or a door is essentially a hole in the wall and responsible for most of the unwanted heat loss or gain.
Windows are essential for a house and the comfort and well-being of its inhabitants, as they let natural light and fresh air into the building and enable views. Appropriate window design, size, location and glazing treatment, combined with shading and internal covers, can significantly reduce the energy required for heating and cooling. Maximum solar access for north-facing windows can reduce winter heating bills up to 25%. External shading can block up to 80% of summer heat gain through windows. Double glazing and internal coverings can reduce heat loss in winter up to 40%.
Glass is the potential weak point of a building in terms of energy efficiency. A single glazed window can gain or lose up to ten times more heat than an insulated wall.
uPVC Double Glazed Windows in Australia: Video
Available across Europe and America for the past 60 years, uPVC window profiles are the most popular choice to deliver superior and proven performance worldwide.
More than half of all new and replacement residential windows worldwide are uPVC. That’s almost 290 million window units a year.
Chosen for their durability, low-maintenance, high energy efficiency, performance and style, the US and Europe have long focused on energy-efficient windows.
However, in Australia, we’ve traditionally used either timber frames which are good insulators but high maintenance, or aluminium window frames which need less maintenance than timber, but have poor insulation .
Thermal performance is one of the most important characteristics of a window. Double glazed uPVC windows can be as much as four and-a-half times more energy efficient than standard single glazed aluminium. The energy efficiency of a window system is commonly defined by two measures.
First, the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), a measure of the solar radiation going through the glazing into a building, and secondly by the rate of heat flow through a window system (uValue). For both measures, the lower the number, the higher the performance.
A common misconception in Australia is that double glazing is only for cold climates, to keep the cold outside. But double glazing is also just as effective in keeping the heat of an Australian summer OUT. In fact, standard glazed windows contribute to eighty-seven percent of the summer heat gain in a typical Australian insulated home. Choosing double glazed units with low solar heat gain and lower uValues reduces or eliminates the need for expensive artificial cooling. By replacing your windows with high-efficiency upvc ones, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from household heating and cooling by more than one ton a year.
uPVC windows are considered durable, with expected life spans of 35 years, and leading brands have been tested specifically for resistance to australia’s high UV radiation levels. These windows will look good for years without the need for sanding or repainting, and being resistant to salt, are ideal for coastal locations.
uPVC window profiles have been carefully engineered to incorporate multi-point locking systems, providing a high level of security. They can be used in a wide range of styles for old and new heritage or contemporary homes, and they come in a variety of colors. Choose with confidence from a range of quality suppliers in Australia.
Double Glazing Stars in Canberra Home
Presented by the ATA (Alternative Technology Association), the 2017 Sustainable House Day opened over 200 homes to the public, and attracted over 24,000 visitors nationwide. On show were homes that showed how sustainablility, liveability and economy can work hand-in-hand.
The Blue House has been called ‘a home with heart’. It features an effective passive solar design, salvaged and recycled materials, an innovative whole-block water harvesting system, and, of course, double glazing. This little owner-built home provides a comfortable base for the young Canberra family of Shelley and Luke Dickerson.
The two-storey house contains three bedrooms and a studio, plus a split-level kitchen, dining and living area. In keeping with passive design principles,, it’s aligned so that all main rooms have a north window, and a big deck provides a good connection to the garden. Double glazing, good cross ventilation, a concrete slab for thermal mass, a heat pump hot water system and 3 kW of solar PV all assist with the all-electric house’s thermal performance and energy efficiency.
Double Glazing Is Standard On Sustainable House Day
For many years, Solar House Day was an annual event run by the Australian Solar Energy Society. Homes around Australia opened to the public to display the latest in solar passive house design, sustainable building practices and materials, solar hot water and double glazing. There were even some glimpses of a brave new world, as some homes showed off solar panels! Although times have changed, the principles of good, sustainable home design remain much the same.
In recent years, Solar House Day has evolved to the more inclusive name of Sustainable House Day, and is now operated by the Alternative Technology Association nation-wide. I’m proud to have been heavily involved in both of the organisations, and in the Days, as a Sponsor, as a Committee Member, and as a volunteer helping show off the homes. In 2016 17,287 people visited 154 homes around the country.
This year, 2017, Sustainable House Day is being celebrated on Sunday September 17th. A likely record number of homes will be open, to show interested members of the public how good design and good materials can produce a home that is good to look at, comfortable to live in, and economical to heat and cool. There will be 20 homes open in Canberra and the Region alone. Of course, you’ll probably find double glazing in every one of them. For these homes, double glazing isn’t an exotic choice, it’s just a given, a commonsense standard inclusion.
Visiting homes on Sustainable House Day is free, so why not check out homes on display near you? You could pick up some great ideas to improve your current home, or one you hope to build.