The Cold Shoulder

patio doors

Doug Beingessner, former President and Owner of Beingessner Home Exteriors wrote an article in Siding, Windows and Remodeling magazine in February of 1995 entitled ‘The Cold Shoulder’.  Although written over 20 years ago, the information is still true today and we thought it might be a good one to bring out of the archives as the weather outside is steadily dropping.  Doug considers some great points about optimum comfort in the home and how Energy Efficient windows can help during those cold winter months.

The Cold Shoulder
by Doug Beingessner

Don’t take it too seriously if your ‘significant other’ has been giving you the cold shoulder lately.  Maybe the comfort levels in your home don’t lend themselves to an ideal climate.  I’m referring to cold spots near windows of course.  A greater emphasis on glassed-in areas poses an interesting challenge for designers, contractors and window people.  The aesthetic appeal of a new glassed-in dining area which projects out from the kitchen and features large window units on three sides loses its shine during cold winter months.  The thermometer shows the temperature in the room is just fine but the room feels quite cool… why?  Of course the main reason is that heat moves from hot to cold.  As outdoor temperature drops when the sun goes down, window glazing becomes cooler and more heat is radiated from our bodies toward these colder areas.  This situation results in decreased comfort levels.

No matter where people live, from the arctic to the equator, we know the optimum comfort level exists if the air temperature is about 70°F.  With surrounding surface temperature in the same range (70°F) we’d have ideal comfort conditions.  By combining the two results, (70°F + 70°F), it is easy to determine that “the optimum comfort level for the human condition is 140°F.”  As adjacent window surfaces become colder during winter evenings we have to raise the air temperature to compensate for this loss and be comfortable.  In order to sit beside a 50°F window surface, we’d have to raise the thermostat to 90°F to maintain the same comfort… hardly a good solution!

Understanding this situation allows us to avoid all sorts of future problems with an unsatisfied customer… not all of them want to put on an extra sweater.  Making a client aware of drawbacks with large glassed areas is good industry practice and provides the opportunity to upgrade all aspects of such a renovation job.  Raising air temperatures isn’t the solution so the most logical choice is to raise the temperature of the glass.  Windows with the best possible R-values should be selected.  They will have warmer surface temperatures with low E coatings, argon gas filling and heat mirror upgrades.  Heat sources below the windows should be coordinated with a heating contractor.  Air barriers, insulation and air sealing details must be carefully completed.  Nothing short of the very best products combined with a professional installation should be considered.  We are not only responsible for the quality of the workmanship we perform, but also for unsatisfactory conditions we produce.

Now, there’s no excuse for having a “cooled off” relationship with your customer.  And of course, on the front “warmer windows” are almost guaranteed to eliminate that cold shoulder problem.

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