Episode 05: How to choose the right windows for a home?

Everyone who has talked to me in the last year or two has probably gotten an earful about windows. I am known to be the crazy window gal amongst my friends, and I finally got to properly nerd out with a real life professional.

Gary Smith from Ultimate Windows has been in the window industry for most of his career and has seen a lot of change happen over the last couple of years. In our interview, he explained the different materials of windows, of course the variations of glazing, and he also talked about important performance indicators that you should look out for when getting windows for your home.

He even shared some valuable insights about how to find the right manufacturer and the first steps you should take when determining what windows you really need for your house.

Episode Transcript

Sandra

All right, thank you again for joining us today Gary. I can already say this is probably going to be one of my favourite episodes ever. Because everyone around me knows I’m obsessed with Windows. That’s the number one topic I bring up all the time. And I know everyone is talking about the benefits of double glazed, triple glazed and all the other little bits and pieces that we can do that you probably know way more about than me. So this is going to be a fun one for me. And I hope for everyone else as well. But yeah, just to kick it off, maybe: How did you get into the window business? What was your starting point? And what made you get into it?

Gary

That’s an interesting question. I remember when I was very young, and my older brother and I were walking home from school. And we walked through a building site, we had to cut through a new building site. And there was this big stack of recently delivered windows, they’re all glazed and a big stack of bricks next to them. And my brother sort of gave me a nudge and said, you know, this could be fun. So we started throwing the bricks through.

And, the builder, I don’t know where he came from, but he caught us and he gave us a kick up the backside. So it’s either I’m just paying penance for doing that. I’ve been in windows all my life. But I was lucky enough just as a kid, a friend of mine who used to deliver windows for the company Trend in Bayswater, in Melbourne, he got me a job as a truck jockey when I was about 16. So that’s actually where I started, I had many, many different roles at Trend, I was there for about 15 years, ended up as the sales manager there with a bit more education and so forth. And then I’ve worked in windows and glass and for the Window Association, basically for about 36 to 37 years now.

Sandra

Wow. And no sign of stopping?.

Gary

No, I think once you get in, it’s very hard to get out. And there’s so many, you know, different things that have changed over the years. And it’s actually a really complex product. I’ve worked just in glass, too, and as a product, you know, there’s some really complex products there, too. But that was a pretty easy role as, you know, sales management, and so forth. But once you get involved in, you know, standards, the building code and all those sorts of things, and educating people about all the different things available. You know, I’ve had a great time over all those years. And it’s, you know, I still learn stuff now, which is terrific.

Sandra

That’s awesome. Well, speaking about the different types, and just the lots of variables that are there in different products, can you give us a brief little overview of some of the most standard windowed types and the differences? I’m speaking the different glasses and all that stuff.

Gary

So in Australia, our most common window, and still is the predominant window type, is aluminium. And I say, you know, aluminium sliders I guess in the northern states. Probably in the last, you know, 10 or 15 years probably aluminium awning in the southern states. We’ve always had timber, you know, timber was a fairly big product, you know, 30 years ago, it’s still going now but it’s certainly – that market share has shrunk, but timber windows are very common. And you go and look at any houses you know, sort of built in the 90s and back you’ll find lots and lots of timber windows.

 

uPVCis one that’s now, I guess, coming up. It’s been in the market for a while, but it’s actually really starting to grow now for lots of different reasons. I guess it’s most of the uPVC that we are seeing here in Australia are European design. So we’re actually talking about, you know, pretty high performing products, when you look at hardware, how they are designed and so forth. A lot more higher performing than some of the most basic aluminium and timber products. Fibreglass, very small market here in Australia. I think there’s only one or two companies that actually sell fibreglass, but composite windows is another thing that’s certainly grown, you know, in the last 10 years, we have, you know, some very high performance, you know, European type, but even Australian design products, aluminium clad timber. And that’s for performance reasons, which I guess we’ll discuss as we go through further, but aluminium thermal breaks, another one. So with energy efficiency, you know, the aluminium  thermal breaks products have really grown in the last, I guess it’s over 10 years, and most systems suppliers actually have a thermally broken system available now. So that’s been, you know, a real change and one that’s now pretty common, certainly in the southern states.

And, you know, uPVC, is another example. There’s uPVC, there’s a couple of companies that are doing uPVC that are aluminium clad externally. And so they’re sort of the most common material types that we’re using for windows. When you’re talking about glass, you know, we basically used single glazed clear, you know, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm. You know, I was around when safety glasses were introduced for doors and sidelights, and, you know, bathrooms, and so forth. Then I worked very early with a company that introduced or just focused on double glazed. So it was a fairly small market then. But you know, that has grown massively, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania, and colder areas of New South Wales. And it started as just standard, you know, clear air and clear units, but then moved towards low-e products, so we low-e products as single glazing for a while because there are energy benefits in that over just your clear. Then hard coat low-e, so you got two types of low-e as well: hardcoat and soft coat.

So we started off with the hard coats, because we were using it monolithically, and it was manufactured here as well as overseas. And those hard coats are also used in insulated glass units, so double glazing, and that really lifts the performance in a U-value, thermal performance since and now just in the last, I guess it’s three, maybe four years, we’re now seeing the same sort of stuff that they’re using in Europe. So soft coat low-e. So it took a while for the glass industry to, you know, get the hang of how to use that. It’s a bit more complex than the hard coat. You got to strip it off around the edge work to attach the spacer bar so you can then double glaze, but the glass companies are all pretty much as a standard now selling the soft coat low-e. And performance wise, compared to the hardcoat, it’s just a much better product.

Sandra

Could you maybe quickly explain what low-e is exactly?

Gary

Yeah. So low-e stands for low emissivity I guess. I try to put it in real simple terms. I’ve spoken to builders about it. If you think about, we’ll start with heating. So it works both ways. So heating. So if you’ve got your heater running in the house, what you’re creating is longwave energy. What that low-e coat does, it’s a metallic coating on the glass that you can see through. But what it does is reflect that long wave energy back into the house. So where just clear glass wood just let a lot of that through, it reflects some back, the low-e coating actually reflects a whole heat back more. So when you’ve got the heater going in the house, it’s actually staying within the house rather than going through the windows.And then in a cooling sense. So in a hotter climate. If you think about outside, you’ve got the energy coming from the sun. So shortwave energy and it’s hitting, you know, pavements and roads and so forth. Some of that material is actually absorbing that energy, and then reflecting it back out as longwave. So if you’re in a hot climate, and you’ve got lots of paths and stuff outside, you’ve got all this longwave energy trying to come into your house. So you got the cooler on inside. A clear glass will let that all come in. Not all, but quite a lot of it come in and through. So it’s heating up your house. What that low-e coating then does is actually reflects that longwave energy back outside, so it doesn’t let as much through. So simply it actually improves the U-value. So that makes the U-value better.

Anthony

Yeah, I see a huge improvement on the performance of windows just by having that low-e coating. And what you’ve just described there, I just wanted to clarify as well. It still lets natural light through, this doesn’t block natural light or anything at all, does it?

Gary

Yeah, correct. So some of the harder coats blocked out a bit. The new soft coats you actually  look at them and it looks like clear glass, you could sometimes see some, you know, pink or blue tinges on the hard coats, but the soft coats, and I’ve got some at home, looking through the glass, it’s like looking through a clear window. So yes, still heaps of light comes through.

Anthony

Yeah, great. I suppose maybe if you could just extend on that, maybe just touch on some of the benefits of say uPVC, or some of the composite windows versus some of maybe our medium windows. Just the variances in the different frames and glass and what those price points sort of look like with those differences.

Gary

I guess, you’ve got to think about, when you’re looking at the performance of a window, you’re not just looking at the glass. That’s one part and it’s obviously a big part. But you’ve got to also look at the frame. So if you can imagine holding in one hand a piece of aluminium, in the other hand a piece of timber, and if you had three hands, in the third hand holding a piece of uPVC, have your gas stove going and stick those materials over the flame. So which one do you think you’re gonna drop first?

Anthony

That’s gonna be the minimum for me.

Gary

Absolutely, you will, because that is a material that transfers a lot of energy throughout, so it’ll get hot really quickly. So you’re going to drop that one, whereas timber and uPVC, the heat doesn’t come through. So thermally, it works much better, those materials. If you had an aluminium thermal break frame as an example. So you’ve got a thermal break between that aluminium, there’ll be some type of plastic, companies have different names for it, polyamide is one name, but what that does is actually stop the heat transfer.

Yeah, so as a material that performs much better. And I guess an example would be with a standard aluminium window with double glazing. So you’ve got, and let’s say it’s low-e double glazing. So that’s performing really well in a colder climate, or even in a hot climate. But if you think about a cold climate, with a standard aluminium window, and let’s say you’ve got the heater on at 24 inside, and it’s two degrees outside, what you’re getting is a lot of cold coming through that aluminium frame. And we see, well, I’ve seen lots of examples over the years where the glass is fine. But on the aluminium frame, you’ve actually got to the dew point. And so you’ve actually got lots of moisture coming off that material.

Anthony

I’m certain there’s many people listening right now, Gary, that can very much relate with that. Waking up on a winter’s morning and there is condensation all over their windows and doors, especially the aluminium.

Gary

So you would get that, if it was a single glazed window, you’d get it on the glass as well. So you think about this massive area of window in your house. And that’s nice and comfortable. You go over near the window, it’s got, because you’ve got moisture coming off your body, you know, you’re cooking in the kitchen, whatever, there’s a lot of moisture in the house. And it condensates all over that window frame. I saw an example in Canberra years ago. And it just had single glazed low-e standard aluminium frames, they were getting bucket loads of water off one sliding door every night through the winter. It wasamazing. So the only answer to that is actually to ventilate the house. So open the window up. And that’s not necessarily what we want to do when it’s freezing cold outside.

Anthony

HRV systems, that’s another topic. So mechanical ventilation. What about the price point for those different types?

Gary

You know, the cheapest window has always been in Australia, just a basic standard aluminium slider with clear glass. But we, you know, we’re sort of beyond that here. Certainly in the colder climates, they’re still using some of that in the warmer climates. So that’s the lowest price point. But once you want to upgrade and get to better performing products, your timber and your uPVC will be, you know, roughly the same as a performance window cost wise. I think your thermally broken aluminium takes a jump above that. Not massive, but it’ll be a bit more expensive. And then you go to your composite products, so your real high end stuff, like aluminium clad timber that,you know, is engineered and designed and European type design products, you know, they’re right up there.

Anthony

Yeah. Well, thank you. I know you’ve touched on low-w, so we’re sort of got into some terminology there as well. For those listening, would you be able to sort of maybe provide some definitions for U-value, solar heat gain coefficient, and there’s also I suppose the air infiltration as well and TVW. Could you provide a bit of a definition for those terms?

Gary

Yeah, so I’ll give a technical and one I just use with people. So, U-value, if you think about

U-value, so it’s the insulation performance of the system. So if you’ve got a difference in temperature from inside to out, the cold is always going to the warm side. Okay? So if you go up and touch a single glazed window, when it’s warm inside and cold outside, that window is cold. And so it’s a measure of that. If you went and touched a double glazed low-e product, it’d be more like the temperature inside the house, rather than the outside. So it’s about that transfer. So, window products and glass products wreck thermally in two ways. So one is the difference in temperature inside to out. And for a, I guess, the technical side, it’s just a measure of the rate of non-solar heat loss or gain through the whole assembly. And you got to keep in mind, this is not like R-values, it’s the inverse. The lower the U-value, the greater the resistance to the heat flow, and the better the insulating value. So when you’re purchasing windows, the lower the U-value, no matter where you are, the lower the U-value you can afford, go for it, get the best you can. And as an example of numbers, you know, the U-value of an aluminium single glazed window will be somewhere between, you know, 5.5 and 6.5. And if you looked at a uPVC window with double glazed low-e in it, the U-value will be between 1.6 and 1.9. So that’s a massive difference in performance.

Solar heat gain coefficient. So this is the second way that they react thermally. I don’t know if either of you guys have been in Canberra on a sunny winter’s day where it’s like minus one outside?

Anthony

Yes.

Gary

It’s freezing, right? But if you’re standing next to a, just a piece of clear glass and the sun is shining on that glass, you will get really hot. So we’re talking about the energy from the sun coming through the window. So this is the second way they act thermally.

So the solar heat gain coefficient is the measure of how much this is letting through. So it’s a number between zero to one. And as an example, a piece of clear glass has a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.67, so when that sun’s hitting that piece of glass, it’s 67% of that energy is coming straight inside. So that can be a good thing. Obviously, if you’re in a colder climate, and it’s winter and good North elevation, and you’re actually generating heat within the house. But if you’re trying to keep it out, it’s not a good thing. So think of a west elevation in the afternoon on a hot day. And you’ve got 67% of that energy coming in from the sun. It’s really unpleasant. So if you went to, say the current soft coat low-es that are being used, they have a solid heat gain coefficient of, or our window system, the uPVC window, with that low-e has a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.38. So instead of 67%, it’s letting 38% through. And that is a massive difference in how it feels and the performance of the window.

Visible light transmittance, we don’t look at it a lot. But what you got to think about, because if you’re trying to block out that heat coming in, you can get some really high performing products that are down to, you know, a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.2, and you think well, that’s the glass I want. That’s only letting 20% in, but that glass might be a really, really dark grey. And all of a sudden when you’ve put it in, the light, and we’re trying to get free light into the house, you don’t have to turn the lights on day and night. The light that comes through those sorts of products is minimal compared to something with a high, well it’s the measure of the visible light transmission. So that’s again, zero to one and so the closer you get to the one, the higher the amount of natural light being let into the building. So that’s where the low-e products are really good compared to some of the tints. Although there’s some high performance tints that still have a visible light transmittance, but cut out a lot of that solar heat gain. So things like, you know, there’s high performance greens, they’re one of the best performing. So they’ll have a solar heat gain coefficient of about. you know, probably 0.38 to 0.4. But the visible light transmittance is not that far below a clear of 0.67. So you still get lots of light. And so that’s when you’d look at it and think about it. But I think you’ll find most window companies won’t be selling you those dark greys. If you drive around most of the cities and look at commercial buildings, you’ll see those dark grey glasses.

The other one you mentioned, Anthony, was air infiltration. So when you’re thinking about a window system and how it’s performing, obviously, if you’ve got lots of air coming through, you’re letting in the horrible cold. So the lower that leakage amount is the better. So they express the number in litres per second per square metre of window. There’s some minimums you have to have. So 3 is the number for unconditioned two buildings. So it’s allowed to let 3 litres per second per square metre come through. Sorry, not minimum, that’s the maximum that is allowed. Is that 3? It might be 5. It’s one or the other, I can’t think of it off the top of my head. And for a conditioned building, so you know, maybe a hotel room or something like that. That’s always air conditioned, or, you know, any commercial building. That number is actually 1. Not a lot of people look at that. It’s actually within the building code. But not a lot of people will get it. But the window systems are all tested to show how much they actually leak, so you can get the numbers from your window supplier.

Sandra

That’s actually a good segway over to my next question. In terms of the performance, how do you actually measure all of these different things? The performance factors that you look at?

Gary

Yeah, well, there’s lots and lots of different tests that windows have to go through. So there’s an Australian Standard, which is the most basic thing that every window has to be tested for. So it’s AS 2047. Any window that’s being sold here in Australia needs to comply with that, or at least be tested to the equivalent, although there’s not much around that’s actually equivalent. And that tests a few things. So there’s actually 5 tests. The first test looks at structural performance. So it actually measures the structural member of the window. So if you think of a window, that’s, let’s say, 1200 high by 1800 wide, and we have one vertical piece down the middle, what they do is measure the deflection of that mullion. So they put the window into a test rig, and they pump the pressure up. And it just measures how far that deflects at different pressures. So that actually then says, well, here’s where I can use my window around Australia, because we have different wind loads on different sites. So a window in Melbourne, as an example, you can’t necessarily use in somewhere like Cairns that’s cyclonic. So that’s the first test.

The second test is operational force. So for a sliding door as an example, you know, there’s a measurement, a maximum force to firstly get that door to start rolling. And then to continue to roll. So that’s measured as well. And we’ve really pushed the limits in Australia with some of the particularly sliding doors, on whether we actually pass that test or not with sizes, but it’s not part of the building code necessarily. So that’s why sometimes you see big doors that are too heavy to push that’s using, you know, standard roller systems and so forth. There’s other hardware around that makes that much easier, like lift and slides as an example.

The next test is your, we haven’t mentioned this one yet, but water penetration. Have you ever seen a window leak before?

Anthony

More than on a few occasions.

Gary

So they’ve got to have a minimum performance. They’ve got to be able to handle 150 pascals. So within the test rig, they put the pressure up to that 150 pa and they spray water at a particular amount over the face of the window. And it’s got to not leak, not have any uncontrolled water coming inside the window for a period of time. And obviously, they then keep pumping the pressure up and see how far the window can go. So you can have windows…So standard and the minimum is 150 pa, but there’s windows around that to 300, 400, 500, 600 pa without leaking, but they’re obviously very different systems, one to the other. So water penetration is the next test.

The other thing, the fifth thing that they actually test for AS 2047 is an ultimate wind pressure basically. So ultimate limit state wind pressure. So on each site through other standards on each site around Australia, there will be the serviceability pressure. That’s the first one we spoke about. So measuring the deflection. The last one is that no matter what comes, you don’t want the window to collapse. So they actually pump the pressure right up and make sure the window doesn’t fail. So I’ve seen some window tests before where, you know, it’s R&D Guys, obviously, having fun, and they’ve designed a new system. And, you know, it’s more than well and truly passed for, you know, most of Australia to be used. And they just keep pumping it up until the window actually gives way or, you know, the glass explodes, or the actual framing system collapses and falls apart. So that’s the fifth test. So they are the most basic tests that all windows have to go through here. But then we’ve got other… Sorry, I didn’t mention that, that was only 4. One of those tests is also air infiltration. So they actually measure how much air comes out.

But there’s other things that we have to test for too. So acoustic performance. So you can test for how a window performs acoustically. So they basically have a wall that doesn’t transfer any sound, put a window in the middle of it, put sound on one side and measure what’s coming through the other side in the most basic form. And that will give you a RW value. So you can ask all your windows suppliers for an RW value of their systems. There’s lots and lots of acoustic tested products.

Then bushfire is another one. So AS 3959 is the bushfire standard. So there’s prescriptive measures in that standard for windows. So you can follow those. But once you start to get up to the higher BAL levels like 29 and 40. When you go beyond that, there’s minimal you can do. But the prescriptive provisions really, it’s very hard to get a window with the screening and everything with those prescriptive revisions. So there’s AS 1530-8-1 and -2 that are actually a physical test for Windows for bushfires. So you’ve put a window in a rig and then they burn it and it’s gonna last and they measure the temperature coming through. Make sure no smoke is coming through and all that sort of stuff. So really tough tests and those tests, you know, are $30,000-$40,000 a test. So that’s why some companies don’t do it, it is a lot of money. And there’s only I think there’s only two, maybe three places in Australia that actually do those tests. But you’ll find that most of the bigger system suppliers, so uPVC suppliers, aluminium. Some of the bigger timber window companies have actually tested products, certainly up to BAL 40. And so it takes away those screening things that you have to do in the prescriptive provisions. So you’ll still get a pretty normal looking and functioning window. And there’s only a couple, maybe one window system that’s passed the FZ test and that was Paarhammer windows in Ballarat. But that was a pretty special window, I can tell you that. That’s massive heat that they put them through. So there’s those bushfire tests as well. And then there’s fire testing as well. But for the fire tests, where they got to last so long, you know, it’s generally steel windows that have had those sorts of tests, not your normal residential, commercial windows.

So there’s lots of testing. And I didn’t mention energy performance. So for energy performance, we follow the Australian Fenestration Rating Council procedures and protocols. And it’s actually a simulation, it’s not a test, but it’s based on the American AFRC system where they’ve done, you know, hundreds of thousands of tests. So the software that’s been created, it’s so close to actual performance that we can now simulate. So all windows in Australia have to be simulated to those AFRC protocols.

Anthony

And further to that, Gary, does it mean that it’s voluntary to then ensure that your products are tested as built?

Gary

Absolutely. So I mean, what you can get, and what sometimes you see is that a product’s been tested, but the manufacturer is not actually making those windows as per the test. So it’s maybe not relevant. But you don’t know that because the company still got a test to show you. So the only thing we really have here in Australia to make sure that the stuff being made is the same as the stuff that was tested, is… The Australian Glass & Window Association have a NATA third party accreditation scheme. So what they do, so members, and it’s not, you don’t have to do it, it’s voluntary to be a member. But what you have to do is, you have to be audited every year when you’re a part of the association, a member of that scheme. So an independent guy comes in, looks at what was tested and all the paperwork, all the different components of the window, and then looks at what that manufacturer’s manufacturing and makes sure it’s the same. So it’s a third party check to make sure that, you know, what you’re getting is, is what you’re getting.

Sandra

Yeah, so for people who are looking to buy or build a house and get windows for their house, that’s something that they could look for in a supplier that they are part of this voluntary scheme to actually know that the windows are properly tested?

Gary

Yeah. So not so much tested, you can ask any manufacturer for a test report. So all the systems suppliers, all their products are tested. There’s some stuff that comes in from overseas and gets through that might not be tested. So you have to ask for AS 2872047 test reports, and they need to provide them as a supplier of windows here. Or, if you want that extra comfort that you’re getting what you think you’re getting, you could jump on to the Window and Glass Association website and there’s a list of all the members there. So they’re all a part of the third party accreditation scheme. Extra assurance that everything is okay.

Anthony

We love validation. Again, for those listening, check out that website and have a look at the list of suppliers on there.

Gary

So the other thing with all that testing and everything, there’s also a mandatory labelling requirement, which is part of the building code. So every window sold here in Australia, every window and door, as in sliding doors and so forth, should have a label on it with the structural performance and the water penetration resistance. So you know, you’ll find them inside jams and so forth. They’re usually in a hidden spot, but it will have it there.

Anthony

So I suppose this is kind of circling back a little bit. This is more just your opinion, but you know, what are your thoughts on single glazing in Australia? And you know, given your background in the Window Association, you’ve got the experience when this was probably quite common practice, it was the industry standard, where it is now?

Gary

Look, it fulfilled a purpose, because single glazing keeps the wind out, it keeps the rain out. But as soon as we started moving to thermally improving the building envelope, and we did. We started off, you know, in the building code, you had to put ceiling insulation in, that was the first move and you saw a massive upturn on how houses performed. Then it was all the walls, and we looked under the floor and slabs and so forth. But what we, and we still haven’t done this, but what we didn’t do is when you’ve got a building envelope that’s performing really well, how’s it going to perform really well, when you’ve got poor performing windows? So you’ve got all these thermal wounds around the building envelope. So single glazing has run its course, in my opinion, we’re still using it in some places. But I don’t think we should be using it for much longer. Well, we shouldn’t be using it now to be honest. The only place you would use single glazing now or that you should use single glazing is maybe, you know, garages and things like that. So non-habitable parts of the building. No point in building a, you know, energy efficient home and actually leaving holes everywhere. So I think single glazing needs to, in my personal opinion, disappear. There’d be some people who would argue that but they are not looking at a thermally performing house overall, or envelope.

Anthony

No, they’d be looking singly, at just cost I imagine. And is double glazing… Obviously, you feel that should be the standard. Is that something that you feel will just continue to just evolve as well, in Australia?

Gary

I think it will evolve. And I know, from an industry point of view, there was a push to have… You’ve got a minimum requirement for ceilings and walls for insulation. There’s no minimum requirement for windows, it’s just, here’s what falls out. Like say, you know, you do your first rate report or NAThers report, whatever it is, and whatever you can get away with with the windows, then it’s, it’s okay. Well, you know, it’s really silly, because I’ll keep saying the, you know, the terminology of thermal wounds, you’re leaving a thermal wound. Anyone that’s building a home that goes into any window company, and actually has some sort of input into the windows that they’re getting, if they come in with a plan, and I’ve seen stuff where, you know, in a big living area, you might have 8 windows, and 3 of them are double glazed, because that got you the 6 star or 5 star or whatever it was. And you say to the owner, well, that’s good to have those 3 there. See these other 5? They’re just letting all the performance out anyway. So what would you like to do? Well, they say it every time: We’ll just double glaze it. I know, with some of the, you know, some of the bigger builders, the volume builders, you know, it’s starting to come through, the mentality is coming through, that we should not just be doing it just to get the house over the line performance-wise for what the construction code needs. Let’s actually make, you know, we’re talking energy and all that. But you know, the reality is comfort in the end. Like you guys, you guys would have sat in a house with single glazing and you would have sat in one with double glazing, which one was better? There’s just no comparison.

Anthony

Yeah, absolutely. I know that in some of the early discussions around how we’re going to navigate to get to 7 stars in the National Construction Code for our energy rating, that windows were the number one, you know, way to achieve that is a singular sort of item or approach. So yeah, double glazing, and particularly the type of frame as well, but I won’t get bogged down in that. But yeah, implementing that was probably the one way that we could actually get to that 7 star. So, I suppose, the next question to ask is triple glazing.

Gary

Can I just go back before we jump into triple? So if you look at what New Zealand did, and you talk to anyone about New Zealand, and the building requirements there, they go: double glazing is mandatory. That’s not actually what they did. What they did was set a minimum performance. And if you could do a single glazed thing that performs like that, well go ahead and use it. But yeah, it’s known and proven scientifically that there isn’t one that can do it. And say, as an industry, well, you know, we don’t mind going to 7 star from 6 star, but we’re disappointed that that one item in the building envelope, they won’t set a minimum performance. It’s like they don’t want to go from single to double glazed.

Anthony

Yeah, I’m really glad you talked about that, Gary, because you know, that’s a big thing for people to understand as well, that there isn’t a performance standard for windows. And to be honest, I wasn’t aware of that myself. I actually thought that was a part of the calculation of say, NATHers. But you’re right, there isn’t one, now I reflect on it and looking at the National Construction Code, there isn’t one. That really needs to be something that we look at.

Gary

So triple glazing, well you know, it just once again lists the performance. I spoke about, you know, double glazed uPVC with U-values of around, you know, 1.6 to 1.9 with double glazing soft coat low-e. If you start to do double low-e triple glazed products you can get down around 1 U-value. So it’s a good improvement. Is it needed here at the moment? I’d much rather first get rid of single glazing and move to double glazing first. There are people that buy triple glazing, you know, the Passivhaus movement here in Australia. People that are going for accredited Passive House, depending on the climate zone, but they are using triple glazed. Some of the really big mansions that are being built and, you know, people care about what they’re putting in. Lots of triple glazed there, even though that’s only a very small part of the market. Cost wise, and I can only talk from, you know, from Ultimate Windows point of view, cost wise, it’s about 30% extra on top of double glazed. And you know, you get your performance down to a U-value of about 1. Do you need it? Not around most of normal Australia. You know, would you use it iIf we’re at that point? You know, maybe it’s 20, maybe it’s 10? Maybe it’s 15? Maybe it’s 20 years away? I don’t know, time flies, and things don’t move real fast. But I’d say for, you know, snow fields and all that. All those types of areas. If you’ve got the money, you should use triple glazed, it’ll make a difference.

Anthony

So definitely climate dependent, then?

Gary

Yes. Yeah.

Sandra

So with looking at all of these price points and the performance points, from your opinion, what is the best value for money when you have high performance in mind? So how much money should you spend to get the best possible performance? What’s the sweet spot in your opinion?

Gary

So I think at the moment, if you want something that is performing really well, you’re really going to notice the difference. Yes, it’s going to cost you more. Is it a good investment? Absolutely. When you look at the overall cost of a house, okay, you might pay $20,000 for your basic windows, is it worth paying 50? Is it worth paying 60? If you’re going to live in that house for 10, 20, 30 years? Absolutely. So I think, you know, if you can afford to actually spend a bit of extra money, don’t necessarily get the marble benchtops and stuff, maybe put it into your windows, you could do the benchtops later, that’s much easier to do later. I would be going with, this sounds a bit biassed obviously, I’ve been in the industry for so long. I’ve sold all types of windows, except for fibreglass. And I’ve ended up working in the uPVC window industry because I think the performance of those are fantastic. So I’d start with that with low-e, soft coat low-e double glazed units. And straightaway, that’s a massive difference. So if you think about aluminium at a U-value of about 6, we’re at, you know, 1.7 to 1.9. It’s a massive difference. I just changed two windows in my house, I had timber single… I’ve got double glazing in certain parts of the house. I’ve just been slowly changing them. But we just changed the dining room and the kitchen from timber single glazed to uPVC low-e, soft coat low-e, double glazing. Well, you just felt the difference instantly, as soon as we’ve put them in. So sound for one, I can’t hear my neighbours anymore. They can’t hear us, which is probably more likely. But just the comfort in there is so much different. So that would be you know, if I was building a new house, I’d invest the money. You know, thermally broken aluminium. So let’s get away from you know, condensation inside. Don’t use your standard aluminium, go to a thermal break- or timber or timber composites. Yeah, that’s the minimum I’d do with double glazed low-e. And I reckon the best value around at the moment.

Anthony

Yeah, in our experience, that’s probably the truth for sure. We’ve done our research and compared thermally broken aluminium windows, the cost of performance values. I mean, actually just coming from a cost and performance perspective. We’ve touched on quite a few others today. But yeah, we see uPVC as the best money for value as far as performance goes as well. So yeah, I have to agree with that.

Gary

You’ll see, I mean you’ll see a lot of variation in performance from thermally broken aluminium products to. So you really need to look at what the numbers are. So look at the U-value firstly, so insulation value, you can find this on there. They should have a Window Energy Rating Scheme number out. So you can go to the WERS website, which is wers.net, and you actually have to have your windows energy rated or you’re supposed to, to sell them here in Australia, it’s an Australian value. So you can’t compare it to European stuff. The European numbers will be lower than ours, because your test or you simulate them under different environmental conditions. So the wers website is the best one to go to. And they will have a listing of all different window types with different glass products in and it’ll give you U-value, it will give you the solar heat gain coefficient, light transmission, it also will have the air infiltration number there.

Anthony

Yeah, I can’t speak more highly of the wers website. If, again, anyone’s interested to do a little bit of research and do the comparisons themselves on these performance values. Jump into the wers website and just have a look at, you know, the uPVC double glazed low-e options versus maybe yeah, aluminium counterparts. That’s usually the big comparison that everyone wants to weigh up.

Sandra

Yeah, that actually makes a huge difference. We actually just had a little look before in preparation of this interview, and it really blew my mind. Not even fully understanding these values yet, but you can definitely see those differences there. And it’s very interesting to see if you’re looking to buy some windows and really invest some money. It’s great to know what you’re investing in. So it’s definitely a great resource.

 

Gary

Yeah, I think there’s over 250,000 ratings on there. Try not to get too confused. Just think about your windows supplier first, who you want to get and just go straight to them and have a look at all the ratings they have. That will vary from 100 to, you know, 10,000, depending on the system supplier and how much stuff they’ve had simulated.

Anthony

We’ve talked about all of the window itself, the rigorous testing and different types of tests that windows go through. But one thing that I suppose I see is just as important is the installation. If the installation of this window isn’t done accordingly, then yeah, we see that all those performance values can pretty much become redundant. Like it’s sad to say, but so yeah, I mentioned Ultimate do some installations themselves. Is there anything you’d like to give some advice on, or maybe jump into that side as well with windows?

Gary

Yeah. So if you go and spend lots of money on a high performing window, and then you get them delivered to site and get your frame and chuck them in here, some of the stuff I’ve seen over the years is terrible, you know, they put the windows within half a day. And you go and pull the architraves off when the house is finished, and you can see daylight beside the window and outside. Once you do that, and I don’t have any of the numbers or anything, but I’ve spoken to an expert about, you know, how much performance you lose from just really small gaps around windows and you would actually feel it. You could put your hand near the window and you could feel the air coming out. We’ve got to install them properly. So you know, they got to be square, plumb, you know, not racked, making sure they’re all working properly. But then I guess Passive House is a good example. You know, there’s so much detail put into the taping around the windows to keep any airflow from going through, you know. When we do retrofit stuff as an example. And retrofit you know, there’s plenty of uPVC guys that just do retrofit, so they’ll pull all windows out. And you can see the gaps as soon as you rip the arc off and straight through the brickwork or timber work, whatever is on the outside. When the window goes in, they use a lot of foam in retrofit stuff. So there’s actually no air coming through. But we should be taping up to the windows you know, flashing the windows. Victoria is a really bad example of window installation, you know. I’ve got thousands of photos of windows not flashed, you know. It wasn’t a big deal years and years ago, although I’m telling you 30 years ago or 25, 30 years ago, they used to install them properly. They do not now. So it’s not only about air leakage, it’s about water penetration. And it was okay for a while because everything we were doing was brick veneer, but as soon as you get to lightweight, the amount of damage that is caused by water penetration around the outside of windows because they’re not flashed. And you can’t just, you know, caulk up around the outside and think that’s going to last forever, because it certainly doesn’t. They need to be flashed properly. You know, I’ve seen court cases where you know, $30,000 worth of windows, but the court case costs $250,000, because of the damage the water has caused. And people are trying to point the finger at the window guys or window leaks. But it’s got nothing to do with the window, it’s coming around the outside. So it’s about sealing around properly, it’s about flashing them properly.

You know, some window manufacturers or system suppliers will have lots of installation details. I know once again, back to the Australian Glass and Window Association, they actually have an installation guide. But they also did a range of videos for basic installation, but also for an energy efficient installation. So you can look at those, so there is access to lots of information and how to do it properly. We’re getting better. I’ve seen a real change in the last probably 5 years. And I’ve seen a real change with the growth of passive house. But also people just being aware and seeing these videos. When the AWA did those, I think there’s about 8 or 9 videos, just short ones, they are just sort of 5 minutes. In the first year, they had over 200,000 views. That’d be well over a million now I would imagine. I don’t get to look at how many they’ve viewed now. And that guide, some of the state building departments, Tasmania is an example, they’ve made that guide a mandatory installation thing for fitting windows. That was about the flashing. But we can go much further. You look at the Passive House stuff and the taping and how much detail to make sure it’s all sealed properly, it’s fantastic.

Anthony

That’s great. Glad to touch on  the AWS guide. In my experience, we’ve used that in, you know, the office as well, just because it has been such a valuable resource. And the videos sound like that. Again, just a great initiative by them to try and improve the installation side of it. Yeah, many times, we’ve removed an arc, and we’ve been able to see daylight through there. Oh my gosh, we should never ever see that.

Sandra

Another thing, too, to maybe talk about is… I have heard a lot of stories about people, actually, another friend of mine, who’s also a builder, was telling me that he had a client who had a house with absolutely zero insulation in the walls or in the roofs or anywhere. But the client wanted to put triple glazed windows all throughout the house and thought oh, that’s gonna, you know, that’s the solution. That’s going to create a really comfortable inside living environment. And he kind of tried to say, you know, don’t spend your money on that, because you’ll have the performance increase. But if you have zero insulation in your walls, there’s only so much that windows can do. So the question I guess would be, just from your perspective, how important are windows compared to the overall thermal performance of a house and especially insulation?

Gary

So in a new house, insulation is obviously pretty easy to do, so you wouldn’t not do it. And cost wise it’s pretty good, too. It’s not not too expensive. But even an uninsulated brick veneer wall, compared to a single glazed window, is so much better thermal performance wise. You could put double glazed into an uninsulated brick veneer wall and it will make a big difference, because it’s still the real weak point.

Anthony

Yeah, I can’t stress this enough: Windows are the weakest point of the thermal envelope of a building by far. If you were to translate that to an R-value, just to compare directly against the insulation batts we typically use for the wall and ceiling, it’s going to be just a fraction of what that R-value of the insulation is, even in 90 stud wall. Put as much money as your budget allows towards those windows.

Gary

It’s true. But you actually can’t see through your timber wall, your brick veneer wall and it doesn’t let any light in, so you know, you have to have windows. But yeah, make them a good one.

Anthony

So how have you overcome the challenges of having European style windows into the Australian market? I’m sure that there wasn’t just an easy transition. I’m sure we had to adapt to maybe how we do things here in Australia?

Gary

Yeah, not an easy transition, because you know, our industry is used to just getting whether it’s a timber window or an aluminium, your aluminium has got timber reveals in the timber, you just nail through it or screw through it into the frame to fix it. Whereas the European type window came with nothing. And so how do we fit this thing? Oh, no, that’s too hard. We don’t want to do it. So what we did, and I’m sure other companies have too, is we designed basically a little extrusion that clips into the outside of the uPVC frame. So it’s actually like an aluminium window. Well, that’s not aluminium. And we actually fit reveals. We can do it that way. And most of what we do, it has a timber reveal. So they’re actually the same to fit as any other window. So that’s one point. But you could do it the other way. A lot of the Passivhaus stuff, we don’t put any reveals on, so they follow the European methods. But for standard type buildings, we’ve got a timber reveal.

I guess the other thing with European design windows, they can’t have bugs over there. I don’t understand. Because screenings was not an issue. And there was actually nowhere to screen lots of these systems and, you know, the initial early guys that got into uPVC, they’ll do retractable screens and stuff like that. But compared to a standard $60 flyscreen that you put on other windows, you know, people look at that and go “Well, no, I don’t like it or it’s too expensive” or whatever. What we did is develop an integrated screen system for awning, casement, tilt and turn, and sliding doors. So we have standard… We supply flyscreens with every window we sell, because it’s our own little integrated screen section. So it’s like any other window here in Australia. Tilt and turn is the other one, like as an opening. So we have different opening types. Most common here in Australia, you know, sliding, awning, casement, double hung in older buildings. I don’t think we sell too much double hung anymore. Tilt and Turn, well that’s really weird. Hang on, this stuff opens to the inside. I mean, it’s fantastic. It’s multi point locking, it’s double sealed. And the Europeans didn’t worry about casement and awnings in the early days. No, that’s too hard, we just use tilt and turn. We actually haven’t designed houses around that, although people are now. Because the system is working to the inside. So what the Europeans did is actually develop with all the same components, so the frame and the sash system and all that it’s all the same, but they developed the awning and they developed the casement. We don’t do double hung because you just can’t get a good enough seal on a double hung. And our awning and casement are all multi point locking as well. So they have, compared to a normal, you know, wind out timber window, a wind out uPVC window that we supply also has two, I guess locking points either side of the sash, depending on the height, whether we need more, which actually pulls the sash onto the seal. So you got the dual seal, one on the sash, one on the frame, and it pulls it in and locks it in. So it’s multi point locking, like the tilt and turn. And casement likewise. So winder, integrated screen, two locking points on the, you know, obviously the opening side of the sash, when you wind it in and close it you then pull those two locks down on it and it pulls the sash and locks it into the frame. So they’ve adapted, you know, the opening types. And we here have adapted and done stuff like the reveal and the flyscreens to suit our climate because we have bugs and mosquitoes.

Sandra

Yeah, it’s actually funny that you’re saying that, because I can give you the German perspective on that one. My parents actually went and got flyscreens for their house specifically made and I think it cost them a fortune. Just because we do have mosquitoes and we do have flies, but nothing like here. That still amazes me on certain days, the flies are just out and in your face and you know you do the typical Ozzy wave and all these things. It’s still very, very weird to me that that’s a thing that we have to live with here because that’s never been a part of my reality growing up and also, you don’t have to worry about spiders the size that you get here. You don’t have to worry about other little venomous things coming into your house. So that’s why the flyscreens are definitely a must here.

Gary

Well, that’s why you need the multi point locking, to keep the snakes out.

Sandra

Exactly.

Anthony

Maybe you could just quickly touch on that, Gary. The importance or what multi locking is. So if we compare it against a standard awning window, aluminium single glass only window. You know, we’ve got the winder. That’s the locking mechanism. That’s all there is, right? That pulls that in?

Gary

Correct. So that pulls it in. It’s got two screws in a little metal piece to hold it into the sash. And you know, there’s some variations on that. But that’s the most basic. And if you go look at awning windows in most places in Australia, that’s what it is. So, you know, it’s just pulling it in in the middle of the sash, that’s it. Has it got seals and stuff around it? Yes, but it’s not pulling it in all round.

Anthony

And then obviously, what you’re talking about is that when you have multiple locking points, when you pull that awning window in with a uPVC awning, it’s actually locking into these little lugs, and it’s pulling it in tight and actually locking it into that frame. S, I just want to clarify the difference between that to anyone listening as well. There’s a huge difference there, especially with air tightness, when we’re looking at high performance.

Gary

Yeah, correct. So once again, if you go to that wers website and just have a look at a standard timber window, look at the air infiltration, and then have a look at a uPVC. And you’ll see a difference there.

Anthony

Yeah, absolutely. Good advice.

Gary

And good for acoustics as well.

Anthony

Of course, yeah. So anyone who’s living near a main arterial road or highway or anything as such you know, like that, just that peacefulness that can exist in the home when there’s no noise coming through, transferring through, is just yeah. They actually say that it’s really damaging to mental health with having constant exposure to acoustics. So if you’re sleeping and just constantly exposed to noise, even upgrading your windows to something that has the ability to reduce the transfer of sound through can improve even your well being in the home, of the occupants.

Gary

If it is an acoustic problem that you’re trying to deal with, you’ll get thermal benefits, obviously. But if you start to muck around with the glass thicknesses, so you’ve got special acoustic lams you can put in. If you don’t want to go that far, you can just go and vary the two thicknesses, say, as an example, a piece of six and a piece of four. And what it does is it cuts out a couple of different frequencies, because when you’ve got a certain frequency that will travel right through the 4mm, you got the 6mm blocking it, you get to another frequency, and that’ll go straight through the 6, but you got the 4mm blocking it. So it’s good to vary your thicknesses of glass as well, if it’s an acoustic thing you’re trying to address.

Sandra

That’s great to know. So having talked about all of these different types of glass and material and the different closing points for windows, what would your recommendation be to homeowners on how to choose the right windows for a home?

Gary

Okay, so how to choose. So firstly, look and make sure that they are a tested product. I always say, look for that third party accreditation. So go to the Glass and Window Association website and look for a company there. Then start to think about, you know, how comfortable do you want your home to be? I’d always go for double glazed, and you get the double glazed low-e soft coats now basically for the same price as the clear. So you might as well do that. And I’d really think about the frame, you know, what’s the climate like where you are? Does it get really cold? Think about the thermal performance of the frame. So go to the wers website, look for the lowest U-value, not the lowest U-value, the lowest U-value you can afford. Speak to the window manufacturer that you’re thinking about purchasing from. You obviously got to go and have a look, there’s a massive difference, aesthetically, and just functionality wise on all different windows systems. So you know, you’ve got, let’s say you want aluminium, that’s fine. No problem at all. But those companies vary so much. You know, you’ve got really small section stuff, you’ve got big section stuff, you’ve got commercial looking stuff. And same with uPVC. Yes, the European UPVC stuff is all, when I say similar, there’s different functionality and so forth and different profiles on sections. There’s US uPVC products. Well, they’re not a patch on the… in my opinion. Oh, I have to be careful there. Not a patch on the European systems. They’re more I guess aimed at a volume market. You know, the European stuff is all reinforced with steel and the sashes in the frame. The US stuff is more being held together by the glass. They don’t measure that deflection, as I said before, over there, so it hasn’t been an issue for them, they haven’t worried about it.

I’d always go to those sites, the window sites, the wers site, actually, the Australian Glass and Window Association have a good guide to window and door selection. And it goes through all the testing, it looks at energy, you got to think about where you are, are you in a bushfire area? You know, are the windows you’re buying, are they a tested product for bushfire or are they just following the prescriptive provisions? Because there’s a difference, you’ve got to look at what you’re going to buy. But get the lowest U-value you can get all the time. Think about the different elevations in your house and it doesn’t matter, you know, if you’re in Melbourne, even if you’ve got a big west facing area with big windows, think about what’s going in there. Because even if you’ve just, you know, double glazed it, you got to think about how much energy is going to come through in the summer. Would be lovely in the winter, but in the summer it needs to be comfortable. It needs to be a comfortable room. So you got to keep that heat out somehow. That’s usually the glass product you’re looking at. So because the low-e, also there’s, you know, high solar heat gain low-es, there’s mid range, and there’s low solar heat gain low-es. So you’ve got to look at all that, it’s actually quite complex. But all the info is there on the internet. But speak to your window people. Not everyone will know. You’ll know straight away when you start talking to whoever the salesperson is, if you start talking about U-value and solar heat gain and different elevations, and they have no idea, I suggest talking to someone else. Not necessarily a different company, but just make sure they get the answers. And all people in the window industry have got access to the information, and they should generally be pretty good now.

Anthony

And Gary, what would you recommend to those who… What should they bring to you to be able to get the best possible answers? Obviously a set of drawings would assist, but you know, what would help you give them the best advice?

Gary

I guess in the olden days, I used to have builders coming to me with the sizes of the windows written on a bit of framing. 90 by 35. We need now, to be able to give you a proper quote, we need full drawings. So we’re talking floor plans, elevations. I note that there’s, you know, most plans have window schedules on them now. So that’s certainly something that’s only happened, I guess, in the design industry. I don’t know, you guys tell me, you know, it certainly, when I last sold windows, we never got that.

Anthony

When I first started as a carpenter, I was very much guilty of that. Drawing just with the, you know, canvas pencil on a bit of 90×35. But now, obviously, I’m on the other side of the fence and in design. And yeah, we would really want a full glazing schedule. We want to have which one of those will be shaded, how they’re being shaded, if it’s horizontal, vertical shading, you know, all the elevations, of course, and, you know, considerations for safety glazing, which you’ve probably nominated on there as well. And then, you know, we really do lean on our window suppliers and their expertise when it comes to consulting with us on how we can get the best performance with what, you know, what budget we have, or in certain situations. We’ve touched on ranking forces and things like that. But you know, that’s the sort of thing, where we think, Oh, we want floor to ceiling glazing, and you can just go hang on, guys, you’ve got to consider that you need a horizontal transom in there to help that ranking force. And then you know,  that’s the kind of thing that we think about where we’re coming from.

Gary

So the full set of drawings, obviously the site loads, so, you know, for housing an N rating. You know, for some companies, that’s a big deal, I might only have an N1 window, and you know, you get to places like country Victorian that just doesn’t cut it. Think about the water penetration, you know, is your house out on a big farm property and exposed, you don’t have, you know, massive eaves or anything. Because the water penetration needs to be higher, if it’s only at 150. If we get it, you know, one of those one in 100 year storms or, you know, one in 10 years storms, you might find you get water in. So you’ve got to think about that, because you’ve got to remember that that water performance rating is just set at a low limit and it’s not for your special storms that you get. You know, if you were up north in the last few weeks with the rain, they had… I’d guarantee you that there’d be a lot of leaking windows up there because they just can’t cope with it. But you can’t make every window to cope with every single storm that you’re going to get either. But think about it if you’re on a rural property and you’re exposed, so get that water penetration resistance up to, you know, I said the minimum is 150. Get it to 200, 250. Look at that and think about it, because a lot, you’ll just get sold 150.

Energy Report, you know, we have to, as an industry, match basically what’s on that energy report. Or actually inform the people purchasing the windows that they will need to go off and do a bit more work on their energy report, because here’s our system’s performance, and here’s what you’re asking for. We don’t have that because they won’t necessarily. But I think you’ll find, certainly uPVC, we don’t really struggle with that ever, it’s usually performance wise, it’s a lot better. But some of the other companies may struggle. You know, what’s the bushfire rating? We need to know that. It makes a difference to the windows, whether it’s tested or not. Because it changes the glass, it changes the screening. All this adds to all costs. If you know the colour you’re going to select, you know, that might sound like a funny thing to say, but you know, there’s variances in different colours. And people think they can just come up and say, Well, here’s the colour bond colour, I’ll have that. But you know, you can get it in aluminium because they’ll be able to powder coat it but it might not be one of their, you know, half a dozen standard colours they’ve got. So there could be anything from 5% to 30% price increase. With uPVC you have your very basic colours, you know, white. So they are one price, but as soon as you go to a different colour, you know, there’s a 5% difference, because it’s a totally different process. So it’s a foil cover over the top. So it’s really any sort of information you can give. You know, there’s lots and lots of questions that have to be asked. We do need the floor plans, you are right Anthony, because we got to go round and have a look, you know, is this window in a bathroom? You know, is it next to a door? So it’s not just a window schedule anymore. You know, every window guy that’s doing a quote will have about, you know, I guess two sheets of questions that they need to ask before they can quote properly.

Anthony

And I mean, we haven’t even got to motifs or anything, you know. We could have, if something can be mistaken for a doorway, it’s got to be visible on the glass. So, you know, there’s a multitude of things like, we always just talk about performance, we get really fixated on that. Yeah, gosh, we’ve just outlined a whole bunch of other things to consider when it comes to windows and doors. I think that maybe the next question to ask is, what does the future look like from here, Gary? Where do you see glazing in Australia going?

Gary

There’s going to be a continual improvement in performance windows that you’ll see going into houses. You know, there’s, you know, the Passivhaus Association, I mean, that thing’s gone ballistic, I think in, you know, just in the last five years. And so that makes a very different window from what we use as norm. We’ll see growth in performance products. So, thermally, broken aluminium. We’ll see lots of R&D in aluminium, because they don’t want to lose market share. And I think they’ll lose a bit but they don’t want to lose too much. And it’s always been a big product here. I think, well, we’re already seeing it. We’ve seen massive growth in iPVC. We’re seeing massive growth in replacement windows since COVID. Because people who were set working at home going, I can’t stand this, this is uncomfortable, or oh my god, the gas bill and the electricity bill have cost me a fortune to keep cool and hot. So we’ve certainly seen that. We’ve seen massive demand there. And so as everyone in the replacement market, we’re seeing lots and lots more consumer awareness of performance products, glass and windows. If you get on the internet, there’s a million things you can read. So we often get people coming to us that have lots and lots of knowledge, but they don’t know about windows, but they got lots and lots of knowledge because they’ve read it all on the internet. I think at some point, I can’t give timelines because I thought it would have already happened by now. Being in the industry so long. I think we’ll have a minimum product. It will be double glazed right across the whole country. Except for maybe Darwin for a while. I don’t think they’re that fussed. But I think we’ll see. I’m not hanging it on Darwin, that’s a beautiful place. I think that’ll end up a minimum. People will just understand but then I’ll, I think we’ll see… And I think we’ve already seen changes of course with volume builders, they do use a lot of double glazing. Now, it might only be to get to the required amount, but you’ve got quite a few that are going beyond, you know, we’re not going to build 6 star, we’re going to build 7 star. And they have used it as a selling benefit.

I think low-e products. It’s just about there now, I think there’s not much hard coat being used anymore. It’s all soft coat. Much higher performing, much better visually. So, I think that’s sort of already nearly here. Yeah, look, it’s pretty exciting. And I hope in the building code, that they actually stick a minimum performance requirement, and it’s not something like 5 U-value that needs to be real. You know, let’s get it down to God. It’d be great if it was even 4 you know.

Anthony 

I mean, that’s not much of a, you know, there’s not a great deal of reduction there. I think that’s pretty easy to achieve is what I’m trying to say

Gary

I think we’ll see the disappearance of our basic single glazed windows, some of them are archaic. Some of these windows systems have been around since the 70s.

So I think you’ll see those disappear, because those systems just no longer do it for anything, they need to go. And I think the system supplies understand that. I think we’ll see improvements in hardware, we already are. And let’s take the European type stuff out. Because that’s just how it comes and that’s what it is. But we’re seeing improvements with your, you know, your standard aluminium and timber window types. Lifting the performance of the hardware, which needs to happen, you know, some of the hardware that we’ve used here for years is quite pathetic really.

Sandra

You kind of already answered our last question that we always ask our guests at the end of our episodes. If you had one free wish for something that could be changed in the building code, what would it be? But I guess you’ve already answered that.

Gary

Well, for who I work for now. So from a uPVC window perspective, I’d love to make it worse than I just said a minute ago. I’d love to see the minimum U-value of 2.5.

Anthony

What really resonated with me, Gary, was that there isn’t a performance standard for windows and doors at this current time in the National Construction Code. So for me, I’m going to take that from today for sure. And be like, Well, we, you know, we really need to see that introduced into the National Construction Code and become mandated, and if it’s 2.5, I’d be, gosh, happy days.

Gary

I gotta be careful. There’d be lots of unhappy people.

Anthony

For me personally, happy days. But you’re right. There’s always pushback when it comes to this, we’re well aware of that. We see that happen now as we transition ever so much closer to that September 1 deadline for the adoption of the new National Construction Code.

Sandra

But at the end of the day, the people who will benefit from it are the people who live in the places. And as we discussed, it’s not only a healthier option for both physical and mental health, but it’s also a hugely more comfortable solution. And it definitely makes a huge difference in your energy prices as well. So at the end of the day, it’s also a more financially smart decision. So even though there will be people in the industry who are not happy, I think ultimately the people who benefit from it are the people who live in the homes. And that’s the most important bit.

Gary

Yeah, so look, even going to 4, it would make a massive difference to comfort in homes.

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