Window Buying Guide
Finding the perfect windows for your home can be a daunting task.
New windows need to deliver on a wide range of requirements to keep you safe, warm and comfortable for many years to come.
Fairco is a 100% Irish-owned company with over 35 years of experience and over 18,000 customers.
We work with you to secure your comfort.
What to look for in a new window
There’s more to choosing a window than meets the eye. Not only do you have to decide on the window style that will suit your home, but frame material, type of glazing and opening options are all important elements to consider.
In helping you understand the more technical aspects of glazing we believe we can help you make the right decisions, leading you to windows that will help keep you safer, warmer and happier for many years to come.
That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide to help you understand everything you need to know about windows.
New window requirements
Everyone’s needs, tastes and requirements are different, but the ideal window should offer the following benefits:
Be highly secure with multi-point locks and mechanisms
Be easy to maintain and clean
Let in a good amount of light
Look good and be aesthetically in-keeping with your home
Have glass that can’t be removed from outside of the home
Have a high energy rating to reduce energy bills
Be made-to-measure, therefore fit perfectly into the aperture of your home
Keep out draughts
Not move or rattle when the wind blows
Long lasting guarantees that cover all areas of the window (not just the glazing)
Add value to your home
Now that you know what makes a good window great, we advise you have a think about your design preferences, the project requirements and the impact on your home, before actively seeking to buy.
To help narrow down your search, ask yourself the following questions:
Q: How do I know if I need a new window?
The lifespan of a window depends on the quality of the product and workmanship. A well-made and well-fitted window won’t have to be replaced for decades.
Warning signs for needing to replace a window are:
- Misted windows due to water between the two panes (failure of glazing seals)
- Timber frames have warped or started to rot
- Plastic has perished, is peeling or discoloured
- Windows rattle, or let in draughts and the cold
- Sashes don’t open or close properly
- Broken hinges, handles and locks
Another reason to look at upgrading to better performing windows would be to improve the insulation within your home.
It’s common to experience these problems if your windows are over 20 years old. Sometimes it’s possible to repair a window, but like a car, replacement parts will only delay the inevitable. At some point the window will need to be replaced.
Had your windows replaced recently? Alarm bells should be ringing. If you’re experiencing these problems so soon, it’s likely that the window is faulty or has not been installed correctly.
As our team of experts work with you to provide the best in design, installation, and aftercare, you will never be left out in the cold.
Q: What colour scheme will help set my home apart?
The majority of windows are replaced like-for-like, and for many this means choosing white PVCu.
However, modern windows are available in the largest range of colours to date, and you’re not limited by the material you choose any more: PVCu windows are available in natural wood colour frames, aluminium windows come in contemporary blacks and greys, and both can be ‘dual coloured’ for a different frame colour inside and out.
Heritage tones are surging in popularity, including Greens, Cream/White Woodgrain and Agate & Anthracite Grey.
If you need more help choosing a colour scheme for your windows, ask your consultant for advice tailored to your property.
Q: How important is window security?
Up to a third of burglaries in a home occur through a window. This could involve smashing the glass (single glazed windows are particularly easy to break), removing external frame beads to simply lift the glass out, or levering open the window sash.
A window is only as secure as its weakest part. Ensuring the frames, hardware and glazing all work together to prevent entry is fundamental for your home’s security.
Good windows have multi-point locking, a key lockable handle and strong frames and hinges. A simple way to check for enhanced security credentials is by assuring that they have been certified to PAS 011 / 024:2012. Another tip is to hide your valuables from view with curtains or blinds.
Around 15% of burglaries don’t involve any kind of forced entry, with intruders climbing through an open window or door. It’s important to remember to keep windows shut and locked when you’re outside of the room, but if ventilation is important, consider tilt-in windows that only leave a small opening
Q: Do I have an obligation to retain the look of my property?
If you live in a listed building, conservation area or your house has a restrictive covenant, you’ll need to follow certain guidelines to ensure your new windows are “in-keeping” with the surrounding area.
Houses in conservation areas are subject to planning laws, which restrict the work that you can do to the outside of your property without first getting planning permission. If this is the case, it’s often simpler to find a company with previous experience of getting windows accepted in conservation areas.
Other than these legal necessities, it’s up to you what style, colour and glass designs you want for your windows.
Q: Should I go for a traditional or contemporary design?
Unless your house has a legal obligation to retain its appearance, it’s your choice. Many people choose a traditional design to fit with their home’s appearance, but in some circumstances modern, slim frames can actually enhance the aesthetics of a property.
Get inspiration by browsing picture galleries and searching for similar properties to your own. If you’re totally stuck or need some advice, get in touch with our experts, who can help you choose windows that suit your property.
Q: Which window material is the easiest to maintain?
Modern, high performance windows should last for decades to come, needing only minimal maintenance. Some parts now come with lifetime guarantees, meaning that you will never need to worry about plastic frame discolouration or misted windows.
PVCu and aluminium frames are practically maintenance-free, and only require cleaning occasionally by wiping down the frames with a damp cloth. Timber windows can be cleaned in the same way, but will also need to be recoated using microporous paint or stain every couple of years, when necessary.
Q: Can installing new windows save money on energy bills?
One way to make your house more energy efficient is to upgrade to better glazing. Single glazed windows lose a house up to a third of its heat through the panes, meaning if you still have single glazing, you could save a small fortune, up to €600.00 every year, just by upgrading your windows.
Of course, the potential amount you could save on heating bills depends on the energy rating of your current windows, and how well they’re performing. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland has a useful guide which has worked out these savings for you, as well as an energy savings calculator to see where else you could improve http://www.seai.ie
Q: What is the energy rating of my new windows?
Energy ratings for windows are often calculated by two different systems – Window Energy Rating (WER) and U values. WER ratings are presented on a simple A++ to G scale, to make it easier to compare windows across the board. U values make up part of this rating, and they are the technical way to measure heat loss.
You can ask for both these specifications when deciding on a new window, and we can provide an ‘energy licence’ for the product. Average double glazing achieves around a C rating, but superior windows can achieve up to A+12. Triple glazed windows can reach a high of A+32.
It’s worth noting that the energy efficiency of a window is only as good as its installation. A poorly fitted window with gaps around the edge can leak heat and create draughts. That’s why it’s important that we make your windows to measure, so that they fit the aperture perfectly, and properly seal the perimeter. A qualified experienced Surveyor with in-depth experience will measure the Windows & Doors for manufacture, and not the fitter who is about to install the windows.
Q: Is it possible to make custom shaped windows?
We will work with you to ascertain your needs before giving you a quotation, and can make windows in any size and shape, depending on building regulations, including circular, arched top, apex or triangle shaped, or angular windows. Simply ask your representative during your design consultation.
Q: How do I know if a window company is any good?
There are many industry renowned federations and bodies who take great efforts to ensure that the best window companies are easily identified. The main ones to look out for are GGF & BFRC, and Fairco are proud to be certified by both. Click here to read more about each accreditation. www.ggf.org.uk & www.bfrc.org
A long trading history and good reputation are good indicators of a stellar window company. Our 35 years in the business is backed up with customer reviews that speak of the quality experience we have provided over this time.
Q: How do I get an opinion from an expert I can trust?
Friends and family are a great starting point when getting advice about buying windows. Radio, magazines and the internet are limitless sources of inspiration. But nothing beats seeing the options laid out in front of you, with samples so you can get a feel for the windows themselves.
Before you buy, contact us for a no-obligation advisory service.
Q: How long will the installation take?
The time it takes to install a window depends on how many windows and other home improvements you’re having installed at the same time. A single window can take anywhere from 3 hours to install, to a day for a full house of windows. We will be able to give you an estimated installation time when booking the installation date.
Modern window materials & new technologies
Historically, windows were made using timber frames. Steel windows came into use in the early part of the 20th century, followed by aluminium in the post-war period. But as good conductors of heat, metal windows easily let heat escape from a home. PVCu windows were introduced in the 1980s as a more energy efficient type of window, and remain the most popular window material to this day.
The modern PVCu window has been in development now for over 40 years. During this time, a great deal of effort has gone into creating something that not only looks fantastic, but also performs to the highest security, performance and environmental standards now expected by the EU.
Advances in manufacturing technology means that modern windows offer better performance than ever before. Whichever material you choose, your new windows will improve security, strength and energy efficiency.
Offers the lowest thermal conductivity. Provides a traditional look, but is the most expensive.
Timber is the highest performing material in terms of energy efficiency, as it is a natural insulator that absorbs and retains heat. Timber windows are seen to be most attractive, but natural materials such as wood require more looking after to keep them at their best.
Timber frames can be made from both softwood and hardwood. Softwood is faster growing and more plentiful, so it’s cheaper. Hardwood grows slower and is more durable, so tends to be more expensive. Modern timber frames are engineered to be stronger, meaning they will not warp or bow, and can also be treated to resist rot and fungus.
The added beauty of timber is that it can have a stained or painted finish. It is the only material that can be repainted a different colour at a later date, so personalising the look of your home becomes even easier.
Long lasting and low maintenance, offering high performance at affordable prices.
PVCu is often touted as a miracle material for windows that tick all the boxes for any project. PVCu is a good all-round material that makes smooth and stylish frames which will never rot, flake or rust. PVCu windows are still among the most energy efficient available and, with excellent double or triple glazing.
PVCu is a popular choice for windows as it offers fantastic value for money. It is now possible to buy PVCu windows designed to emulate traditional timber frames, to such an extent that it can be difficult to tell them apart.
Historically you could have any window, as long as it was white. Now PVCu frames are available in a range of colours, guaranteed to last a lifetime with extensive guarantees against frame discolouration. Many windows also now contain lead-free PVCu, which is an important environmental and health factor.
Slim frames let the most light in. Stylish exterior is ideal for modern properties.
Aluminium windows are used in structural glazing and other commercial construction projects due to its strength. In domestic properties, this allows for a much thinner window frame and a larger glass surface area, letting more light into the room.
As a metal, aluminium is a natural heat conductor, letting heat pass through easily. Aluminium windows feature a thermal barrier in the frames, which reduces heat loss through the frames. In the last 10 years, thermal barrier technology has improved massively, and aluminium windows can now achieve almost the same high energy ratings as PVCu windows.
Aluminium windows are also extremely weatherproof and low maintenance. Unlike other metals, aluminium does not corrode, so window frames will not rot, flake or rust. A powdered coated finish allows a wide range of colours to be chosen for the frame – including non-metallic options. Aluminium windows are typically 60% more expensive than its PVCu equivalent.
Which material should I choose for my new windows?
Deciding on the best window material for your property can be a challenge. The good news is that window engineering has advanced considerably in the last 15, 25 or even 50 years. So much so that you will definitely notice the benefits of upgrading your windows, no matter which frames you choose.
With improvements in window design, traditional differences between materials are slowly disappearing. PVCu is now virtually indistinguishable from its timber counterparts. Stylish aluminium frames are an option that look exactly like PVCu windows, only slimmer.
That being said, some materials still suit some properties better than others:
Houses built before the 20th century would have originally had wooden windows, and still suit these today. Countryside cottages, 1930s semis and Victorian terraces are examples of period properties where timber would be perfectly suited. With sliding sashes or period detailing, modern PVCu windows can sometimes replicate these styles, but for a truly authentic feel, there’s no replacement for timber.
Properties in housing developments built from the 1960s onwards tend to have white PVCu windows. Although replacements are a great choice to retain this timeless look, they can be customised with a variety of frame colours to add a unique touch. If you’re looking to maximise light in your home, such as in a basement flat, aluminium windows are a sleek alternative.
For that stylish ‘Grand Designs’ look, there’s no better choice than aluminium. Used in structural glazing, aluminium is a strong material that can hold larger glass units, increasing the amount of natural light. Aluminium frames are almost ‘flush’, meaning they sit flatter than PVCu frames and have neater lines – ideal for angular designs.
Why not try aluminium casement windows?
Of course, these are only suggestions and you can choose almost any type of window for your home. If you need more assistance, ask your advisor for more suggestions tailored to your property.
Window Glass & Glazing Types
Originally, windows only had one job, and that was to let light into a building. The first windows were made with pieces of crown glass held together by lattice leading. Soon after, the invention of thinner and flatter plate glass led to larger squares of glass held together by wooden glazing bars.
Float glass was invented in the late 1950s, allowing for the quicker production of large, flawless glass sheets. This helped spur on the development of more advanced glazing. Double glazing became the norm from the 1970s onwards, as energy efficiency, comfort and security became more important to homeowners.
So how does double glazing work? And why are more panes of glass better?
Does a job, but offers limited sound insulation, security and energy efficiency.
A surprising number of houses in the Ireland are still only single glazed. Windows can be one of the greatest sources of heat loss in a home, and one pane of glass is not sufficient to retain heat. Complaints about old single glazed windows include: cold spots near the window, draughty frames, freezing cold house and noise pollution from the outside. All problems that will disappear by upgrading to new double glazing.
Installing single glazing is still a requirement on occasion where planning or conservation regulations apply. Along with timber frames, single glazing helps a property retain its period look. Another way to improve insulation under these circumstances is to install secondary glazing.
The minimum standard for new windows and the most popular choice.
Double glazing is one of the most effective ways to improve the insulation of a home, creating a warm and comfortable living environment.
In a double glazed window, two panes of glass are joined by a spacer bar. The gap between the panes traps warm air, slowing the escape of heat from a building. In addition, the best windows introduce an inert gas, such as argon, which further limits the movement of cold air.
Safer, quieter and warmer windows.
Triple glazing contains a third pane of glass, creating an extra cavity which traps warm air and reduces heat loss through the sealed unit. Triple glazed windows are better at retaining heat generated within the home, whilst reducing overheating in summer.
A common misconception about triple glazing is that the improvement in thermal performance is due to the extra pane itself. However, it is more about the types of glass and coatings used, the gas filled sealed unit and the distance between the panes.
For some properties, triple glazing isn’t high priority, but it’s recommended for houses next to busy roads, train lines and under flight paths, or in typically colder areas.
Types of glass
It’s not all about the number of panes of glass. New technologies have been developed that make window glass stronger, shatterproof, clearer and quieter. It’s important to consider what type of glass would be best suited to your requirements.
Low E glass
Invisible reflective coating
Low emissivity glass has an invisible, thin coating applied to its surface that reflects heat. It is strategically placed on the inner pane of glass to help keep heat indoors and to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Low iron glass
Clearer, allowing for more light
Windows that contain low iron glass are noticeably clearer. They allow a higher level of light to pass through compared to older glass types, which sometimes have a slightly green tint.
Thicker glass, laminated or toughened to enhance security.
Security glass is available in a range of sizes and thicknesses depending on your security needs. Typically, laminated glass is 6.4mm thick (compared to 4mm for standard glass) and contains a thin plastic interlayer that prevents the glass from smashing. Toughened glass is up to five times as strong as ordinary glass of the same thickness.
Used as an outer pane in a double glazed unit, this provides an extra level of security to the window as a whole. Toughened glass must also be used for fixed lights in side panels to doors, as well as in windows close to the ground.
Sound reduction glass
Outstanding levels of noise reduction
Sound reduction glass windows contain an inner pane that is 6.4mm thick supported by an outer pane that is an incredible 10mm thick. Together, they provide excellent sound insulation. A thin and lightweight solution to noise problems.
Enhancing the character of your window and home
Add coloured shapes, patterns and bevelled designs into the glass itself. Decorative glass looks beautiful in top hung fanlights – the top sashes of casement windows – as well as feature windows in halls and stairwells. Coloured glass is similar to stained glass windows, but it doesn’t require leading to hold the glass together.
A new version of an old classic
Stylish strips of lead are a purely visual benefit that can be added to your window in order to make it more aesthetically pleasing. There are a range of leaded glass options that suit both modern and traditional houses, including square and diamond designs.
Maintains privacy with distinctive character
Obscure glass creates a ‘cloudy’ effect, enhancing privacy by blurring out your home’s finer details to passers-by. Also known as privacy glass, there’s a variety of textures available, such as leaves and flowers, as well as grainy patterns.
Window Styles & Designs
Window styles tend to be named after the way they function. Casement windows open outwards, sash windows have sashes that slide up and down, and tilting or turning windows usually open inwards or flip around for ease of cleaning.
Most people opt for casement windows. These are the simplest to operate and suit nearly every home. However, some houses will require different window designs, depending on the project.
Casement windows have emerged as the most popular window style. They can be hinged on the side to open left or right, or be hinged to open upwards. Extremely versatile, they can be designed to suit a range of properties, with over 250 frame designs. The modern technology, with multiple locking points along all sides of the frame, makes a casement window extremely secure.
Tilt and turn windows
Tilt and turn windows possess a dual hinge design that tilts and open inwards using hinges at the bottom and side. Tidy and efficient, these windows have been designed for flats, apartments and other upper storeys, providing secure ventilation and an easy way to clean the glass inside and out.
Amongst the most traditional window styles. Historically made from timber, sash windows can now be made from PVCu, for a classic design that fulfils modern day performance requirements.
There are several different styles of sash window available, modelled on designs from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods. Designs vary depending on the era, but tend to have a thicker frame depth and a deep bottom rail.
Sash windows traditionally operated on a pulley system of cords and weights, allowing users to lift the sliding windows open and shut. Modern sash windows tend to use a metal rod or ‘spiral balance’ to slide the window open. This device is smaller and so allows for a larger glass area, letting more light enter the room.
Tilt sash window
Tilt sash windows have the appearance of a standard sash option but as well as sliding, one or both of the sashes tilt inwards for easy cleaning. Offering the same attractive appearance of the traditional sash window, but are more practical for the modern home.
Georgian bars can be added to either casement or sash windows to provide a touch of traditional charm to your property. These bar details can sit internally or externally. Internal glazing bars sit between the glass panes and keep your windows easy to clean, whereas external bars sit on the surface of the glass.
Another option is diamond or square leaded glass designs – these patterns are applied to the outer pane of double glazed units and are available in many widths and colours.
Custom shaped windows
Windows don’t have to be rectangular. Bespoke shaped windows can give your home a unique edge. Every good window company will make your windows to measure. Arched, round, angular and apex windows can be easily custom made.
Fixed pane glass windows
Often referred to as a ‘picture window’, fixed windows do not open. They are installed purely for letting light into a space, or to showcase the outdoors. Fixed pane windows don’t just have to be rectangular. Circular or hexagonal portals are popular, as are lancet and other shaped fixed lights in high or hard-to-reach places.
How to choose a window style that’s right for your home
Many people decide to replace their existing windows like-for-like, but with so many window designs, frame styles and other decorative features, there is an option to suit your property.
First, think about the window’s functionality. Standard casement windows are well suited to most projects, but if ventilation, security or maintenance are a concern, it’s worth checking out other styles.
One way to make sure your house looks top class is to ensure that each individual window appears balanced in its own right. We call this ‘window framing.’ Choosing a symmetrical window will enhance the aesthetics of your property and create a lasting impression.
Whichever window style you choose, you can complement the look by customising with decorative glass, Georgian bars, and customisable fixtures and fittings.
Combining window styles
Houses often incorporate window sets made from different configurations. Many styles can be combined to create a row of windows, such as sash fitted together to create a bay or a bow window constructed with a Georgian design.
The same applies when choosing windows for a conservatory. It’s possible to design any glazing project that takes your style and requirements into account.
It is important to understand what makes a good window. The frames are an important aspect. Not only is the structure paramount, but the materials and finishes too. These all impact on the energy efficiency, security and overall appearance of the window.
How are windows made?
Window frames are constructed by taking long lengths of ‘profile’, cutting them to size, and fixing the ends together to create a rectangle (or other shape!). Different materials are fixed together in different ways – timber windows can be ‘joined’ together with interlocking sections, whereas PVCu and aluminium frames are welded or fused together under high heat.
Some PVCu and aluminium windows are ‘mechanically joined’ to replicate the same process as a wooden frame, giving a more classic look. Better quality PVCu windows are now made using a ‘smooth welding’ process, resulting in a seamless and more polished finish.
Timber window frames & joinery
Timber windows are made by fitting together solid lengths of wood that have been pre-cut and styled by machine or hand. Good quality timber windows are made using engineered wood that has been layered and compressed to increase the structural stability of the frame. Timber is naturally insulating, and the frames don’t require any other materials or parts.
PVCu window frames & chambers
You might think that because timber frames are made from solid pieces of wood that they are all created in this way, but it’s not the case. Timber is a naturally insulating material, but PVCu windows work by trapping air in pockets within the frame, reducing thermal conductivity and stopping heat from escaping.
These are called ‘chambers.’ The more air chambers a window frame has, the more energy efficient the window can be. This is due to the fact that each chamber provides an additional barrier for the heat and the cold to contend with. The outerframe and the sashes can each have a different number of chambers, but numbers can range from a three chambered frame to a highly energy efficient nine chambers.
Aluminium window frames & thermal barriers
You might have heard that aluminium window frames are ‘cold’ and not as energy efficient as PVCu. With older aluminium windows the profile could only be ‘extruded’ in one piece, meaning window frames used to be made entirely from metal. The worst material for letting the heat escape!
Over the years, advances in manufacturing led to windows being made in two parts, allowing for a polyamide thermal barrier to disrupt the transfer of heat. Like PVCu windows, aluminium frames also contain energy efficient chambers.
Window frame styles
If you have a keen eye for detail, you’ll want to choose the right frame styling and detailing for your new windows. Windows can have clear, sharp lines or a softer, curvier outline depending on whether you choose bevelled or ovolo frames.
Another popular design choice is windows with ‘flush’ sashes. The window sits completely flat, with minimal frame depth. You might want to choose this option if you want to replicate the flat façade of traditional timber frames. However these windows do not offer the weatherproof qualities as regular frames. At the other end of the spectrum, ‘stormproof’ windows are designed so that the sashes overlap the frames, to protect against the elements.
Like fashion, window styles have changed over time. There are certain features that define the era they originated from. Georgian windows are overlaid with astragal bars that divide the sashes into six panes, Edwardian sash windows sported sash horns and in the 1930 arched frames were common to give a property its style.
We understand the differences between different historical window styles and can advise you about which period features you should consider, which is especially important if you live in a period property.
Previously, you could only expect to achieve fine detailing with timber frames, but it’s now possible to replicate this style using modern PVCu or composite materials. Some PVCu frames are manufactured with a ‘woodgrain effect’ finish, which emulate the texture of timber.
Window seals, or gaskets, sit between the frame and the glazing to stop air leakage and water ingress. This results in a fully airtight and weatherproof window unit. Gaskets keep your home warm and dry, saving your frames from becoming damp and rotting. It can be easy to overlook the importance of good quality seals, but they really do help the all-round performance of a window.
Gaskets are pre-fitted to windows before installation. With modern windows you won’t need to add any additional draught excluding seals.
Three types of seal are needed to make a window fully weathertight:
Outer weatherproof seals prevent water from getting in from the outside
Inner weatherproof seals keep the window airtight and keep draughts out of your home
Rubber vs. Q Lon window seals
Until very recently, window seals were thick, black and rubbery, and stood out starkly against white frames. Seals and now slim and discreet, offering better insulation and contribute to a much higher energy performance.
Seals are available in either rubber or a material called Q-Lon. Rubber seals tend to flatten once it is subject to repeated pressure, altering its shape and ultimately hindering its performance. Eventually they can collapse and this is one of the main reasons why older windows fail after a number of years.
Q-Lon seals, however, have a compression recovery of 99%. They will spring back to their original shape every time. Available in a range of colours, to really improve the overall appearance of the window.
Installing secure windows in your home is important on a couple of fronts. Firstly, strong frames and locks can protect your home against intruders, significantly reducing the risk of break-ins and burglaries. Secondly, restrictive window openings can create a safe environment, opening just wide enough to ventilate a room without the risk of falling out.
Internally beaded windows
Window glazing is held in place against the frame with a small strip called a ‘bead’ which runs along all the edges of the window sash.
Early PVCu windows had the option of external beading, but this has largely been dropped due to security concerns. Window beads used to be a lot weaker and offered an easy opportunity for burglars to simply peel them away and remove the glass.
Most windows nowadays have internal glazing beads, which is the most secure option.
Lifestyle is exclusive to Fairco and has been designed and developed with leading lock manufacturer, Yale. With three times the locking surface area of a standard, multi-point or shoot-bolt window lock, Lifestyle is our most innovative and secure lock ever. Formed of a sleek rotating cylinder that quite literally ‘grabs’ a specially designed 60mm long ‘keep’ on the window frame, it forms an extra secure and highly effective bond.
Made of aluminium, highly durable and non-corrosive, it’s functional and durable. Offering you the best in home security and designed to be smooth-looking, stylish and discreet.
There are many more options regarding locks, offering varying levels of safety and security.
Technically, a window with just two locking points can be considered “multi-locking.” The more points that can be locked, the more secure it is. There isn’t a standard number of mechanisms, but if you can find a window that has eight or more locking points, you have yourself an incredibly secure window.
Bi-directorial locking adds a layer of complexity in the frame that prevents the intruder from being able to jemmy your window out of place.
Key lockable handles
All modern window handles are key lockable, making it difficult for potential intruders to simply wriggle your windows open. It also adds an extra safety feature for top storey rooms accessible by children and vulnerable. It is recommended that you leave your key inside the lock, however, so it is accessible in event of an emergency.
Hinge-side security brackets
Some PVCu window frames incorporate tough, interlocking brackets that secure the outside of a window sash when fully shut and locked. This means that if an intruder tries to lever the window on the hinge side, the brackets will prevent them from being able to jemmy the window out of place.
Used for fire escapes, egress hinges allow a casement window to open fully outwards in order to provide an emergency exit.
Opening restrictors limit how much a window opens, either by connecting the sash and the frame via a cable, or by fitting key-lockable restrictors that allow windows to open no more than a couple of centimetres wide for ventilation purposes.
Lockable ventilation & night vents
Windows have the option of leaving a small, one inch gap when closing, locking them ‘nearly closed’. This is also known as the night vent position that many people use as a means of ventilation. However, leaving a window on the latch is far less secure than shutting a window fully, and can present an opportunity for a potential burglar to prise open the window.
New windows can be provided with ‘trickle vents’ instead, which provide background ventilation without compromising the security of your home.
Energy Efficient Windows
You’ve paid for your heating so it’s the job of your double glazing to keep the heat in your home. Improvements in energy saving technology is arguably one of the most significant developments over the past few years, not just for the environment but for home comfort and money savings, too.
Up to a third of heat in the home is lost through single glazing. By upgrading to energy efficient windows you can save around 20% in energy use. Thermally efficient windows are at least double glazed, with low emissivity glass and an inert and non-toxic insulating gas like Argon between the panes.
Combined with energy efficient frames, new double glazed windows can achieve up to an A+12 Window Energy Rating (WER), and triple glazing can achieve up to A+32.
The British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC) created the WER rating (Window Energy Rating) in order to simplify how effective a window is. The rating system offers grades from A-G (with A being the best). If the window is rated higher than an A it will be followed by a number, and anything above an A10 becomes A+. In October 2015, the BFRC introduced the A++ rating for windows that achieve higher than A+20. The highest rating currently available is A+32.
The WER rating is made up of three key elements: U value (low heat loss), solar gain and air loss through ventilation.
- Thermal efficiency (U value)
A window’s U value is the technical way to measure heat loss through a type of building material, such as a brick wall or tiled roof. U values are calculated by the equation W/m2k, which measures heat loss in watts (W) per square metre of material, when the temperature (k) outside is at least one degree lower.
The lower the U value, the better the insulation provided by the material. Single glazed windows have a typical U value of 4.8-5.6W/m²K, meaning that around 5 watts of heat are lost per hour, for every square metre. Modern double glazing can achieve a U value as low as 1.4W/m²K, and triple glazing is even more energy efficient, reaching 0.6W/m²K. This is lower than the U value of an external wall!
- Sound insulating windows
Upgrading to Acoustic windows will go a long way to improve sound insulation in your home. The effect is like as moving a road that’s just 5m from your home another 100m away. Resulting in a quieter and more relaxing living space, free from the noises of traffic from roads and flight paths.
If you’re restricted by conservation planning rules, secondary glazing can also help to reduce the noise from outside filtering into your home.
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