As Desert residents, if there’s one thing we love talking about it’s the weather, especially during the hot and dry summer months. With that heat comes increased energy bills for those of us who like living in more reasonable conditions. Those bills can sometimes be quite high, especially in older homes where the “thermal envelope”––the windows, ventilation, weatherstripping, and insulation which helps insulate your home––no longer meets modern standards. One might think that upgrading their home is a costly and difficult process, but luckily there is one way to help that is cost-effective and simple!
Most homes here in the Desert built before the early 2000s used aluminum-frame windows and patio sliders, which while cost-effective are not very energy efficient. Most homes built before the mid-80s also used single-glaze glass, which has rather little insulative quality. Replacing your windows and patio doors with modern vinyl retrofit units solves both issues quickly and cost-effectively!
Vinyl is the industry standard material for energy efficient windows and patio doors here in Southern California. It is built to withstand the harshness of the Desert environment without growing brittle or suffering from accelerated fading. It has a low “U-value”––the rate at which heat can pass through the unit; lower is better––and offers a number of different styles and colors, at a lower cost than alternatives like fiberglass or wood. Products like the Milgard® Tuscany® V400 Series or the Pella® 250 Series offer great looks and quality at reasonable prices.
Most manufacturers today use a special type of ultraviolet and infrared-resistant glass called “Low Emissivity” or “Low-E” glass for their products, which forms the second part of what makes modern units so effective. Commonly-available versions of this glass block around 90–95% of the sun’s harmful radiation while letting in around 65–70% of the visible light; this seems like it would make the room quite dark, but most people can’t see any difference compared to untreated clear glass! This Low-E glass is installed as a dual-glaze “insulated unit”, which uses a sealed pocket of air, or more commonly argon gas, between two layers of glass to maximize efficiency. Argon gas is colorless, scentless, non-toxic, and is about 40% denser than regular air, making the window even more effective at keeping heat out of your home.
Last, we mentioned “retrofit” style units. This is a special type of frame which is installed around your existing window frame. A flange on the outside covers the original frame for a clean look, an insulation foam fills any void spaces for increased efficiency, an interior trim completes the look, and the entire unit is sealed inside and out to prevent air, dust, and water intrusion. The end result is a clean, new window with modern materials and build techniques, and with little to no need for finishing work such as stucco or drywall patching or repainting!
If your home’s windows and patio sliders are in need of a refresh, give us a call to schedule a free consultation. We carry the full line of Milgard® and Pella® products, and can help you pick the right product for your home!