Triple and trickle: stop the whinging and get on with it!
By Danny Williams, MD, Pioneer Trading
Not only have I seen the future of replacement windows, I am living in it.
As my regular reader will know, I am prone to name dropping that I do quite a bit of replacement window work for our beloved NHS.
They are not just a pretty decent client from a spondoolicks point of view, they are also impressively switched on too. The team that I work with are professional, well informed, open to new ideas, responsive and understand and demand the best for their estates.
The people that run the NHS estates that I am involved with, are specifying windows that perform at least to what we expect from the hotly anticipated Future Homes standard that is set to change everything in a couple of years’ time.
A couple of years that give us yet another opportunity to pretend these changes – quite profound changes – aren’t going to happen.
The windows I produce and install for the NHS are PVC-U because they have the best thermal performance, and are fitted with argon-filled, coated, warm-edged, triple glazing throughout, simply because they want the best performance available from their windows.
The emphasis is very firmly on energy efficiency, at every turn. I reiterate – triple glazed. In significant volumes, and I have been fitting them for months now.
So what, you ask. So what, is that as the reality of the Future Homes and Buildings Standard begins to kick in, the dinosaurs are beginning to grumble.
Triple glazing is too heavy/carbon inefficient/fitters won’t like it/we need new, more powerful vehicles /it’s no better than coated double/it’s too expensive…blah blah. The attention, initially, will be on new build. But in due course, home improvements will be brought in line and we can realistically expect an average U-value of 0.73 W/m²K on windows and doors.
In broad terms, this figure will only be achieved with triple. And not just an extra pane of glass which simply will not work, but fully specced and engineered, gas filled, coated glass, triple glazed units.
That is what we currently fit, though often with the additional requirement for acoustic laminated.
My real-world experience is that yes, of course, it is heavier but still easily manageable, especially if the fitters routinely give up their regular Greggs-stop on the way to site. Most standard racked vans are under loaded and more than capable of lugging the additional weight of the triple units and our lads have never uttered a single expletive more than their standard on-the-job outbursts when handling this kit.
If fuel consumption is negatively impacted, then it is not measurable in any meaningful way. The units are, of course, more expensive.
The doom-mongers need to wind their necks in: Future Homes will bring very real progress to the thermal performance of our new houses with the result that the occupants will simply not be held to ransom, as we all are currently, by a disturbingly lunatic dictator.
The not inconsequential reduced impact on the environment is almost secondary to the very tangible improvement made to the lives of ordinary people. For occupants of new homes built from 2025, the term ‘fuel poverty’ will not apply, because their homes will cost little to warm and illuminate.
We need to accept not only our responsibility to design, manufacture and install the very best products that we are capable of, we need to accept that, actually, we don’t have a choice. Just like the trickle vent Luddites, we need to embrace change, accept the inevitable and actually, make it work as well as we possibly can.
I note with some satisfaction that the irritation of the proposed window exhibition at Telford this April has hit the skids with the company behind it folding with barely a whimper. FENEX was never going to happen, not least because the wannabees behind it had also, towards the end of 2021, pheonixed their awards event when it too ran out of cash.
Of course, I am always supportive of entrepreneurs that are prepared to take a chance – that is how the FIT Show began. How most of us began! But FENEX was launched on a whim, with little reason to exist other than to please a handful of people who mentioned in passing that they quite liked Telford and didn’t like paying for car parking at the NEC.
I want a strong, established show at which to present my wares, one that I know will give me decent returns for the enormous lump of cash any such event costs: and I resent the half-arsed efforts of the people behind the failed Telford event, to undermine something that works perfectly well for that purpose, when they brought nothing new nor advantageous to the table.
Good riddance: see you all at FIT!
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