The route to greater thermal efficiency

By Alan Fielder, director of sales and marketing, Edgetech.

More products, higher standards, better performance – the fenestration landscape has shifted dramatically in the last ten years, and, for industry veterans, the world of glass and glazing today is virtually unrecognisable compared to the one they joined decades previously.

But some things never change, and homeowners are just as concerned with cutting bills, saving money, and getting good value as ever.

UK energy bills are rising at their fastest rate since 2014. More generally, consumers are grappling with price hikes in everything from water and broadband to fuel and public transport fares.

In response, homeowners are taking action. Energy UK, the trade association for the UK energy industry, reports that nearly 500,000 switched their energy supplier in August 2017 alone – and with the government’s recent U-turn on manifesto pledges to cap energy bills, it’s likely that consumer appetite for energy-efficient products is only going to increase in the months and years ahead.

For those of us in fenestration, that presents a challenge. We’ve made such huge strides in improving energy efficiency over the last decade that it’s going to be extremely difficult to push that boundary even further, at least by relying on product improvements alone.

Ten years ago, as few as 5% of sealed units incorporated warm edge spacer bars. Today, warm edge technology is used in 70%-80% of units – an enormous shift that’s significantly boosted the energy efficiency of thousands of homes around the UK.

Multi-chambered profile has followed a similar trajectory – seeing explosive growth from niche innovation to standard practice throughout the industry.

At Edgetech, we believe that we’re approaching the upper limits of what can be achieved purely through enhancing window and door products themselves.

That doesn’t mean we’re pessimistic about the potential for continuing to boost energy efficiency overall – but to do that, we think attention needs to shift from the products to how they’re being installed.

One of the more surreal aspects of modern-day fenestration is that our extremely advanced, precision-engineered, triple A-rated windows and doors are still being fitted the same way products were installed back in the 1980s.

Installation using only silicone as the primary sealant, a method still employed by the vast majority of UK window and door fitters, is extremely outdated. It can lead to poor thermal performance, poor weather resistance, and is often messy and expensive to use.

It also highlights a widespread lack of understanding about how energy efficiency and energy efficient products work. An A-rated window won’t provide anything near A-rated thermal performance if it’s not been properly installed – and in most cases, silicone can’t cut it.

Vastly better results can be achieved using more sophisticated methods such as Edgetech’s high-performance installation tape, TruFit.

Designed to gradually expand once applied, the tape moulds itself to the contours of the frame and the aperture, forming a complete, reliable seal, and offering exceptional air tightness, weather tightness and energy efficiency, together with reduced noise transmission.

A window fitted with TruFit has been proven to lose 23% less heat on average than one installed via traditional methods – while helping installers streamline and professionalise their fitting processes.

At Edgetech, we remain dedicated to constantly improving the reliability, energy efficiency and overall performance of the warm edge products we manufacture – and we’re confident we can continue pushing boundaries and helping fabricators improve the performance of the windows and doors they produce.

But at the same time, we think it’s in improving the process of window installation that the biggest potential for further advances in energy efficiency lies.