Seems the glass industry wants to cut out the middle man, the frame manufacturers!
Okay you need to know this is written by a frame manufacturer so it may be biased but according to reports, there is much talk and activity in DECC and OFGEM about the possibility of homeowners just replacing the glass in old windows. The theory being that PVC frames are reasonably efficient and the bulk of the energy gains and heat savings comes from thermally efficient sealed units. Remove an old sealed unit once misted up with a u value of say 2.8 and insert a new one at around U = 1 and you extend the life of the window.
Well perhaps, but inevitably the glazing gaskets and frame seals would need to be replaced, hinges will be tired, screws worked lose and the window hardware dated. By the time each of these components has been changed the costs will be getting close to a new window. OK there is less mess because the frame is fitted and remains, but generally there is very little mess when replacing one PVC frame for another.
Although this could provide a cheaper solution and be a “green” less resource hungry solution, it assumes the original windows were good to start with. Unfortunately, so many of the early windows were poorly made, corners were cut and often inappropriate styles fitted.
In addition, building regulations have changed, fire egress may now be required, fittings may now be obsolete or unlawful, and if different glass is being used will the existing frame be capable of carrying the new units.
Having spent years getting the industry regulated with competent persons schemes like Fensa and CERTASS, what level of compliance will be expected? Will an installer be obliged to confirm they have installed safety glass or unregulated free for all so rouges fit any old unit without any recourse if wrong? We already have some installers overcharging for sealed units quoting £150 for a unit which costs just £20!
Seems the Green Deal guru’s only consider energy efficiency, they have completely overlooked the fact that homeowners also buy windows for to enhance security and the aesthetics of their home as well.
Apparently the BRE are now being asked to conduct a proper evaluation but with the major glass companies (SGG, Pilkington, AGC and Guardian) pushing the idea with the GGF, you know it will be well supported.
Whilst I understand the benefits that good sealed units bring, I personally believe home owners will appreciate new windows complete with new frames, hardware and window furniture will provide far more years of untroubled life than units alone will offer.