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Thread: low-e windows

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    1

    Default low-e windows

    Hello, Old House Community- I just had low-e dual pane windows installed and could not be more disappointed with them. It turns out, that the window installer forgot to mention to me that the windows are darkly shaded, and in the light, appear to be Green. The new windows block out all of the beautiful natural white light out of my already cold and dark house. No warmth from the sun is felt through the windows now at all. The room feels and appears cooler than before and the room is also darker than it used to be as well. These windows would be perfect for a south facing home or in cold or hot climates- but none of these issues apply. I have spent a small fortune and feel the rustic old charm of the house has been destroyed. I wanted the house to be more energy efficient, but it has happened at the expense of beauty! The installer says these are standard windows and is what is installed universally. I cannot believe that other old-house lovers put this in their homes! I thought I was ordering Clear low-e, however, and cannot accept the awful change. Has anyone had a similar story regarding window replacements in old homes? Is there a clear energy efficient option that is not so visually offending? Any advice, besides learn to live with it, is welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: low-e windows

    Replacement windows also often reduce the overall window opening, so on top of the shading coefficient, there's less glass area. Vinyl windows also often have thicker frame than some wood frame historic windows and much thicker than metal frame casements.

    I intentionally didn't use low-E storm window on the front of my house because of the shading effect. ON my storm window it's just a very very light greying tint, not greenish. I do remember the replacement in my last home being maybe just a little green.


    Old house lovers don't replace their windows at all. It quite often ruins the look and character of the home. They restore them and if needed add storm windows. Among real old house lovers, it's almost sacrilegious. Replacing your windows is pretty much a last resort when the originals are completely rotted.


    I have 42 original wood frame windows. But with good storm windows and a well insulated roof deck and moderately tight air leakage my utility bills are pretty low for a house my size.


    I'm sorry you had to find out the hard way that replacement windows are not a upgrade. Just because something is new, doesn't make it better. You will soon find that newer products are more cheap than they are high tech.



    Again, storm windows are inexpensive, absorb noise better, are easy to install and even a large clear glass good quality window is only around $120 and can be installed in 10-15 minutes plus prep time (cleaning) with a cordless drill/driver and a caulk gun. I installed 31 of mine myself in about 25 hours total including unpacking and cleaning the windows. Half were on the 2nd floor. Altogether I think I spent $5500 for storms. Repalcements would have cost me close to $40k for good quality ones.

    Yes, my house is very very bright on a sunny day. The average window size is 69" tall and 39" wide downstairs.
    Last edited by motoguy128; 03-01-2012 at 09:41 PM.
    1925 Two-Story Stucco Beaux Arts Neoclassical

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,542

    Default Re: low-e windows

    Windows have a number of specifications that effect the performance.
    Low e is just one of them. Building codes to some degree require windows to meet certain criteria, but that is usually only required on new construction.
    Other specs that are important are visible light transmission, shading coefficient and solar heat gain coefficient. I suspect the VLT is your issue. Depending on the climate there is a bit of discussion on what specs are important. Allowing heat gain is more desireable in cold climates than it is down south. At the very least the windows should be double pane.
    It's too bad the builder didn't explain any possible differences or he might not have known or the window manufacturer he uses doesn't offer the different glass options.
    Last edited by ed21; 03-01-2012 at 11:15 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: low-e windows

    Low-E you could argue is just as important in cold climates because it equally blocks heat loss as it does heat gain. So while solar gain ins reduce in winter, during that time of the year the number of hours where you have beneficial heat gain is much lower than those where you're losing heat since the days are short.

    Ultimately the best measure for window performance is 1) air leakage and 2) surface temperature. My low-E coated storm windows have noticeable warmer surface temperatures than the clear glass.

    Remember the primary function of Low-E is to block infrared energy. That's not just direct solar, but more importantly any and all radiant heat energy.

    The climates where low-E or even double pane will have minimal impact are mild climates in places like much of California, especially NoCal and the pacific Northwest. Basically climates that don't have real seasons.
    1925 Two-Story Stucco Beaux Arts Neoclassical

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