01-04-12 - Double Pane Glass is a scam

"Replacement Windows" are shit sold by the window industry to sucker homeowners. The tiny gap (typically less than 1 inch) in a standard double pane IGU (integrate glass unit) is no better (and sometimes worse) than a traditional window + storm.

Throwing out perfectly good lovely old windows for "environmental" reasons is of course retarded; if you want more air proofing and don't already have storm windows, just get some good storms and you're done.

Replacement windows almost always uglier than good old wood windows, which architecturally fit the house and have nice wavy old glass.

Furthermore, they cannot be maintained and repaired in the same way as an old window + storm. When an IGU fails (which they do in 10-20 years typically) it cannot be repaired, it has to be replaced. Old wood windows can be easily taken a part, cleaned, resealed, and can last 100 years. (Vinyl windows and caulk and foam seal strips and so on are similarly problematic - they seem great at first, but they all decay badly in sun and weather, so have to be replaced regularly and can't really be maintained).

Replacement windows are usually shoved inside the existing window framing, and add their own thin frame which makes the opening smaller and adds an extra ugly architectural detail.

It's a standard "sustainable" bullshit corporate ripoff. To sell you some new crap and get you to throw away your perfectly good old windows. (it's like the wonderful irony of "sustainable christmas trees").

This guy addresses the issue in much more detail.


Aaron said...

Very interesting. I really need to insulate my house better. It's kinda ridiculous. I recently picked up some 'eheat' heaters just to take the edge off of the cold overnight (kinda ridiculous (and loud and annoying) to run the whole central air system for the house just to heat two bedrooms.

Another thing I've been trying to figure out is how to *silence* my central air system. It's absurd that it makes any noise at all. Surely there should be noise-insulated duct work, but for the life of me I haven't been able to find it.

cbloom said...

How is the eheat ?

One solution I've seen to silent per-room heat are the new "hydronic" baseboard heaters. They are basically an old 1950's oil-filled radiator, but with an electric heating element. So you just plug them in and they radiate heat silently.

It's a big advantage to be able to turn off or turn down the central heat (which dries out air by bringing in
outside air, and blows around dust, and is noisy, etc.)

BTW curtains are excellent insulators, but only if they have "pelments" (or some other way of sealing at the top). If not, they create stack convection.

A lot of double-pane IGU's are actually spaced by aluminum, which is a pretty good heat conductor, which is retarded. A proper IGU should be spaced by wood or plastic.

Sealing gaps can be more important that windows on an old house, and just takes some foam tape.

Things like Nitrogen or Argon between panes is just a giant scam and is totally irrelevant. For example curtains reduce heat loss by up to 50% , but inert gas helps around 5%.

Aaron said...

The eheat is actually pretty great for the kids room. Utter silence (no radiator clicking, humming, no fans, and I'm pretty sure (but not 100%, see below) that the thermostat doesn't make an audible click. No idiotic user interface beeps) exterior never gets particularly hot, really flat against the wall. They're only like 480 watts. Although that sounds like a bad thing, it's actually pretty good. I've got some 800 watt heaters and I always just want to run them on 400. They can heat the upper half of the room quite nicely, but the way these rooms are (not) insulated, the lower half can never be really warm.

I have not been in the kids room long enough to see how much noise the thermostat in them makes when it turns on and off. Once I thought I heard something, but I'm not 100% sure. Any sort of clicking would be super annoying in a room for adults.

They have a red led light on them by the power button, which is sort on the upper front right corner. It's supposed to auto-dim in the dark, but it's still visible. Stupid, but whatever. A bit of tape could cover it. There is a little twisty dial on the top for setting the desired temp that isn't super great ergonomically (kinda hard to reach). That said, though, not that big a deal since I've just been turning it on and off with the power button instead. Wall mount was super crazy ridiculously easy, and their packaging and instructions are good. I broke off a little plastic part putting it on, but that was my fault for trying to screw in a tiny screw with a too-big power screwdriver and pressing too hard.

cbloom said...

We need Ralph Nader or someone heroic to save us from all the fucking beeps and status lights.

cbloom said...

A 15A breaker only supports 1800W ; those 800W heaters add up fast.

BTW older houses should run 15A breakers even if they were originally able to run 20A (eg. knob and tube even with 12 gauge wire (as was common) should only run 15A)

old rants