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Green Building Questions: What Makes Fiberglass Windows Energy Efficient?


By Paul Kazlov

As more people, homeowners especially, push to go green at home, many are turning to eco-friendly products such as energy efficient windows. As a result, fiberglass windows are gaining popularity due to their energy efficient material.

Have you ever wondered what makes fiberglass windows, or fiberglass in general, so energy efficient? A variety of factors serve as the foundation for the material’s uncanny ability to save home and business owners thousands on heating and cooling bills. Some of the fundamental causes of fiberglass’ flawless energy conservation range from a long lifecycle performing at optimal functionality and a prolonged degradation process. In addition, the materials that comprise fiberglass windows are cheaper to produce and require less raw goods, as compared to vinyl and wood products.

In fact, fiberglass requires very little natural resources to be consumed, if any at all. Furthermore, fiberglass is certainly more eco-friendly when compared to wood which requires the utilization of trees. Here are some of the features of fiberglass windows that make them remarkably environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

Less degradation, prolonged lifecycle

Fiberglass cannot be compromised as easy as wood. This is fairly significant considering that wood framing can warp over time. This can lead to a multitude of problems, including structural integrity issues, which ultimately leads to more costs, not less.

Additionally, a more prevalent issue with wood products is a sudden increase in heating and cooling bills. This situation can develop from the natural deterioration that many wood products experience with time. Warped wood can place strain on windows and as a result, increase air infiltration. That pesky draft that abruptly manifested, will allow outside warm air or cold air to enter any room or area more than usual and thus require more energy to compensate for this influx. This of course raises utility costs. Fiberglass windows do not warp and thus can be exceptionally economical over the long term.

Vinyl windows can present problems of their own. Vinyl is more likely to age, weather and show blemishes, faster and easier than fiberglass. In addition, fiberglass is nine times as stronger than vinyl on average. These two precepts not only showcase fiberglass’ exceptional durability and longevity, but also exposes vinyl’s weaknesses which can lead to an increase in energy bills. When windows do not operate at optimal functionality, energy bills have a tendency to escalate and rise. When you consider the lifecycle of vinyl against fiberglass, it can be deduced that fiberglass will perform better and longer and as a result reduce overall energy costs.

Things are starting to take shape

Fiberglass has the tendency to hold its shape perfectly. This small difference can be a huge one, as a window that fails to hold its shape can also be the source of air infiltration and further drive energy bills higher. Fiberglass, on the contrary, can contour to virtually any fitting and firmly stay in place. Furthermore, these windows are very hard to compromise and as long as they are placed in any opening, they will almost always keep out all outside air.

Multiple layers of glazing = Multiple dollars in savings

Fiberglass Windows, a website focused on informing the public on the benefits of fiberglass windows, states, “When manufacturers add a second, third or even a fourth layer of glazing the insulation vastly improves.” The tendency of most fiberglass windows is that they, in fact, come prepared with multiple layers of glazing. As mentioned, this can provide a higher level of insulation which in turn allows for more warm air and cold air to be kept in when needed. As a result, energy bills are raised when environment improving-air escapes readily through thinner panes featured in more traditional or older forms of glass.

Tinted glass coatings

Tints are another feature commonly found in fiberglass windows. In some cases, tints are applied along with an acrylic film that repels various elements. Tints repel solar heat and once more reduce the need for an increase in air conditioning, during cooling days. In fact, on some of those “borderline” days where a fan or air cooling unit may be serviceable, a fiberglass window may serve as the deciding factor between activating these devices and leaving them off.

This can largely be chalked up to the instrumental influence that the slightest addition in solar reflection can provide. An appropriate analogy to demonstrate this would be the difference between wearing darker colors versus lighter colors on sunny days. Those who wear lighter colors are less likely to dehydrate or overheat, because their clothing repels sunlight which brings heat. This is a great way to illustrate how fiberglass windows with tints are less likely to allow warm air in to any space, greatly reducing air temperatures and subsequent use of cooling units.

Image credit: SorokopudDepositPhotos

Paul Kazlov is a “green” home remodeling enthusiast and an industry pioneer for innovation in home renovation. Paul writes for the Marvin Windows NJ blog and strives to educate people about “green” products such as fiberglass windows, metal roofing, and much more. Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov.

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