This Month’s Top Tip

Upgrading PVC Windows – You’ve (not) been framed!

Windows are a very important element in any house. Obviously, they let in a lot of natural daylight, but they can also be a very large cause of poor energy efficiency. Single glazed, ill fitting windows will probably be the most energy costly part of an old house.

So, it’s no surprise that windows are big business. There is a very large and very successful industry in the UK replacing old wooden framed windows, and not so old aluminium and PVC framed windows with new “energy efficient” PVC double glazing.

While we at HEAT are all in favour of improving the energy efficiency of houses – reducing energy bills and CO2 emissions – we do advise that people think twice before signing on the dotted line. There may be other, cheaper options that are both energy and cost effective.

In a previous article, we talked about secondary glazing, so I won’t go over that ground again, but rather look at upgrading existing windows without ditching the frames.

In this case, I will look at PVC framed double glazing that’s more than 10 years old. If the frames were well made in the first place, then they will still be perfectly adequate. But the glazing will be well below current standards – the glass will not be coated in the metallic layer that reflects heat back into the house and the gas between the two panes may not be the best.

Any of the specialist double glazing firms will offer you complete new frames and glazing. However, it might be worthwhile asking a local supplier to quote to replace the glazing only. These windows are designed to allow glazing replacement in case a unit is broken or fails. New glazing units, which will be up to the latest energy standards, are available and can even be ordered online.

The cost of replacing just the glazing unit will be substantially less, and all the plastic, energy and effort used to make your existing frames won’t end up being thrown out. The whole process will generally be much quicker and with no internal redecoration or refitting required.

So, if you want to upgrade your existing double glazing to a better standard, why not think local and ask a local tradesperson to quote for glazing unit replacement. It might be well worth the bother.

By Martin Mathers

The HEAT Project has been partnership with Perth & Kinross Council to provide free, professional and impartial home energy advice to help the thousands of households worried about the rising energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis or wanting to take action to address climate change.

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