Because Colorado is located in the Rocky Mountains, it can be a challenge keeping your home warm and cozy during the winter months. To help keep their homes warmer, homeowners often turn to double-paned windows. But what happens when you live in a high-elevation area?
Insulated windows consist of two panes of glass that contain pressurized argon-gas between them. When these windows are sealed, the atmospheric pressure inside the panes of glass is the same as the atmospheric pressure on the outside.
However, when the window is shipped to an area that has an elevation level that is higher than where it was manufactured, a pressure imbalance is created.
To combat this, special high-altitude glass is used. Some manufacturers install capillary tubes between the glass panes to allow the air pressure to equalize and eliminate the argon-gas. Eliminating the argon glass from between the panes can lower its energy efficiency.
It is very possible to use argon-gas at high elevations when the window manufacturing plant is above sea level as well. If the window installation is being done in a location that is significantly higher or lower than the manufacturing plant, a breather tube is used.
In order to prevent heat from escaping, it’s vital that the window frame is in good shape and made of the right materials. Typically, air leaks from the frame at the sash, sill, and perimeter.
The sash is the part of the window that slides up and down inside the frame. In double-hung windows, there are two sashes that can slide.
Most people are familiar with the bottom of a window, or the sill. The perimeter goes around the edge of the window, as you might expect.
All of these places are potential leak points, so make sure your window frame is constructed from the right material. In spite of the fact that no window frame is completely airtight, there should not be much cold air leaking in.
Avoid using aluminum for your window frames. Aluminum is the worst material to use if you live in a cold climate because it doesn’t retain heat well.
Additionally, it’s essential that the area around your windows is properly caulked and sealed. The best way to make sure this is done correctly is to hire qualified specialists to install your windows.
How Does Cold Weather Affect High Altitude Glass?
Insulated glass has two or more panes of glass that contains an insulating gas between. However, when the temperatures change from hot to cold back to hot, the expansion and contraction of the seal causes it to weaken. The broken window seals then allow moisture and air to get between the panes, resulting in decreased energy efficiency.
Features to Look for When Sourcing Windows in High Altitudes
It’s important to use a company that uses a manufacturer from the same region if choosing double-paned windows that use argon gas for insulation.
Another way to combat the cold is to get double- or triple-pane glass systems which are air-filled glass units and which use capillary tubes. Although they do not meet Energy Star ratings, there is not a significant difference in heating costs.
Additionally, pick windows with a high solar gain coefficient (SHGC) and a low U-factor. Energy performance evaluations take into account a number of variables including U-factor and SHGC.
The window’s U-Factor measures how well it prevents heat leakage. Ratings are between 0.14 and 1.20. The most energy-efficient windows are those that have a low U-factor. North to south, there are u-factor specifications for each region of the US. Windows in colder climates need to have a U-factor rating of at least 0.27.
The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) gauges how effectively heat from the sun is blocked or allowed by your windows. Ratings range from 0 to 1, with 0 permitting little or no solar heat and 1 permitting the greatest amount of solar heat. Because they will produce more natural heat in the winter, windows with a higher SHGC rating are preferable for homeowners in colder locations.
The R-value describes how well the space that is between the window panes works to insulate the window. There are specifications for each US region, similar to the U-factor. Windows used in colder climates need to have an R-value of between 13 to 21.
Visible Transmittance, or VT, is a measurement of how much light can travel through a window. Similar to SHGC, VT is quantified on a scale from 0 to 1, where 0 allows for the least amount of light and 1 allows for the most. The VT rating is not as important as other features since this has more to do with light transmittance than heat, but buyers should be aware of this factor.
Windows installed in northern climates should use a low-E insulating glass for maximum solar heat gain.
How Common Is High-Altitude Glass?
Because only 1% of the nation resides in elevations higher than 5,000 feet, most manufacturers don’t use high-altitude glass. The majority of manufacturing plants for windows are located in areas of lower elevations.
Windows can warp and seals can be compromised before ever reaching a high-altitude home for installation when they are manufactured in lower elevations.
Contact Nex-Gen To Learn More About High-Altitude Windows
Make sure that your home gets the best new windows by requesting a free quote from Nex-Gen Windows and Doors. With our expertise and experience, you can rest assured that your home is outfitted with only the highest quality windows.