Letter to the editor

Be wise about windows

To the editor: Being a former window manufacturer who specialized in cold-weather, rough-use windows, I am continuously studying available information on windows and energy efficiency for our climate. I’ve noticed much information being distributed is heavily loaded with financing options and promises of a warm, cozy home, but not much technical information on what the consumer needs to know before purchasing.

Some of the windows are very lightweight, nonreinforced vinyl, side sliders that are installed with about one-third of the window frame outside the insulated envelope. Side-sliders become inoperable very early in the Alaska winter and are totally useless as egress windows for bedrooms. An inoperative egress window in rental property is very risky.

Alaska, especially Fairbanks, is fortunate to have many sources for information for window shoppers. Chapter 6 of the Alaska State Builder manual covers local building conditions and suggestions. You can order a copy of “Residential Windows,” third edition (published by W.W. Norton) on Amazon used books for less than $10 and you will get more information than you thought existed.

There are two window manufacturers in the state, and they are both in Fairbanks. They build windows right here that are designed for our climate. Fairbanks has several window and glass facilities that are willing and capable to advise new homeowners on window selection.

Some basic things to remember:

1. The best window you can buy is a big hole in the insulated envelope.

2. Double-pane windows are not “good enough” when you can get triple pane.

3. The number of panes is not as important as the size of the airspace.

4. Some high-priced windows must have glass replaced by the manufacturer. If a hockey puck comes through the window, you will want it repaired quickly and correctly.

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