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10 reasons why Australia should consider double-glazed uPVC windows

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A common sight in homes throughout Europe, the UK and US over the last few decades, uPVC windows have been slow to catch on in Australia. But this is changing as rising energy costs are prompting homeowners to consider the many benefits provided by today’s modern high-performance uPVC windows.

 

Durable, low-maintenance and thermally-efficient, 21st century uPVC windows offer superior security, excellent acoustic properties and resistance to weather and environmental conditions. They also look very good and are invariably almost indistinguishable from timber or aluminium alternatives.

 

So if you’re thinking of installing uPVC windows in your new build or renovation project, here are 10 reasons to consider them.

 

1: Thermal-efficiency is a key reason to install uPVC windows. More than 40 years of manufacturing experience has delivered significant technological advances in performance. Energy efficiency works both ways: heating and cooling. So not only do uPVC windows perform well at keeping extreme heat or cold out of a building, they work equally to keep heat or cool air in – depending on the location where they’re used. Therefore less energy is used to maintain an ambient temperature within the home – and this is reflected in cost savings and lower energy bills.

 

The low conductivity of uPVC frames limits the transfer of heat and cold, which can reduce heating and cooling costs. Modern uPVC windows are made from profiles with multiple chambers for added thermal performance and strength. Double-glazed windows typically have a 12mm to 16mm air gap, which improves the thermal and acoustic performance of the unit.

 

2: Acoustics. Tight seals used in the manufacture of double-glazed uPVC windows not only enhance their thermal-efficiency, they also provide effective sound insulation too. This is an added benefit for properties in noisy areas, such as near busy roads or airports.

 

3: Security.  Advances in hardware and locking systems have made modern uPVC windows much more secure, providing greater peace of mind for occupants. Each window can be locked individually and, depending on design such as the European Tilt and Turn operation, can be opened slightly to allow for secure added ventilation at night. An optional restrictor safety feature can be specified that prevents the window from opening too wide, so pets or children cannot inadvertently climb or fall out.

 

4: Low-maintenance. PVC is a very tough material that is used worldwide for a diverse range of building materials, from pipes and cabling to uPVC window frames. In the case of windows, it doesn’t require painting to keep it looking good and requires little maintenance, other than occasional cleaning with a mild detergent or soapy water. Lubrication of the locking mechanisms with a drop of oil helps to keep them running smoothly.

 

5: Weather-resistance. The ‘u’ in uPVC windows stands for ‘unplasticised’ meaning that it has no plasticisers added to make it flexible. This rigid and dense material, un-plasticised polyvinyl chloride or uPVC is non-porous, so is unaffected by heavy rain, fading, cracking or splitting. Advances in PVC formulations over recent decades have greatly improved this inert material’s resistance to environmental conditions, such as extreme heat and UV, making uPVC windows an ideal choice for the Australian and New Zealand climates.

 

Highly-resistant to weathering, rust and termites, uPVC windows are also an excellent choice for coastal locations.

 

6: Aesthetics. Long gone are the days of ‘cheap plastic’ windows; today’s uPVC windows not only perform well, they also look fantastic. Developments in design, materials and how the windows are constructed have made it difficult to tell the difference from traditional timber or aluminium windows.

 

7: Environmentally-friendly & recyclable at end-of-life. Lead-based stabilizers are no longer used in the production of uPVC window profiles. These have been replaced by more environmentally-friendly calcium/zinc formulations without any loss of performance, making them better for people and the environment.

 

PVC is recyclable and in Europe, the UK and US, recycling infrastructure has developed to return this material to new uses, such as building products and even new windows. Although very few uPVC windows are presently available for recycling in Australia due to their relatively recent introduction, Australian industry programs are putting uPVC off-cuts back into new products and keeping them out of landfill.

 

8: Fire-retardant. Thanks to its chlorine base, uPVC has inherent flame retardancy properties and does not readily ignite. uPVC window profiles do not support combustion and are in fact self-extinguishing once a flame source is removed.

 

9: Cost-effective. Depending on the quality, uPVC windows can last up to 30 or 40 years. With their in-built thermal-efficiency, they are also up to 40% more efficient than a standard aluminium window. They’re also becoming more affordable as more window companies offering uPVC windows become established in Australia and the market grows.

 

10: Design options. There’s more to uPVC windows than just the familiar double-hung or sliding windows. The tilt-and-turn system, commonly used in Europe, offers great versatility and ease of cleaning from inside the building. In tilt mode, the top of the window tilts forward into the room venting hot air while preventing cool air near the floor from escaping.

 

Moving the handle into the next position enables the window to be fully opened like a hinge door, allowing for cleaning or additional ventilation.

 

Also available is a tilt-and-slide system that has the same sealing properties as above, but is better than the standard sliding windows, which rely on brush seals (which keep bugs out, but not air).  A range of colour options is also available.

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