High Altitude

Energy Star & High Altitude Markets


Approximately 1% of the population of the U.S. lives at an elevation at or greater than 5,000 feet. This is far too small of a sliver for manufacturers to build for, or regulators to consider, when writing codes.
 
Thus, when Energy Star 2010 levels were determined for windows, or the window efficiency required to achieve the federal tax credits was written into law, high altitude markets were ignored.
 
The problem is that a majority of window manufacturers are located at elevations of 1,000 feet or less and use an inert gas, mostly argon, to improve energy efficiency (lower U-Values). Argon, in dual pane glass units, requires the units be sealed to preserve the gas.  This seal is accomplished by deleting the capillary tube found in air-filled glass units. Seal units are not able to equalize pressure so as the windows are shipped to our Front Range location, the gas expands with the altitude gain and without the breather tube, bow outwards at the center. The higher the altitude gain, the greater the pressure – to the point that the seal between the panes can weaken and/or fail, or the glass can break.
 

Insulated glass with capillary tube

Insulated glass with capillary tube


 

Those of us who serve high altitude markets in the new construction and replacement window business are left with four, compromised alternatives:

  • • We can specify argon filled units if the job site altitude and the nature of the window is such that the structural integrity and warranty can be maintained.
  • • Secondarily, we can sell the windows with capillary  tubes or air-filled. These units will not qualify for the tax credit and will not meet Energy Star – Northern Region.  The difference in heating costs will be negligible from a modeled energy consumption point of view.
  • • We can specify tri-pane glass that qualifies, but will cost significantly more than what can be recouped by the tax credit and the payback in energy savings will not be measurable for decades.
  • • We, or you, can buy from the few vinyl and fiberglass manufacturers who fabricate windows locally and thus don’t face the same altitude problems

Marvin and Integrity windows are working on solutions for our market.  Watch our blog for updates.  In the interim, ask the window companies you are considering what they think is best for your home and why.

Locations

  • BOULDER

    3002 Sterling Cir Suite 101
    Boulder, CO 80303

    P: 303-442-4277
    F: 303-442-7417

    Email

    sales@solarglass.com

    Marvin Design Gallery Hours

    Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Saturday 9:00 a.m. - Noon (March-November only).

    Evenings and Weekend appointments are welcome.

    Call to schedule an in-home consultation.

  • DENVER

    201 University Boulevard
    Denver, CO 80206

    P: 303-783-9300
    F: 303-783-0300

    Email

    sales@solarglass.com

    Showroom Hours:

    Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please give us a call to set up an alternative time to come in.

    Evenings and Weekend appointments are welcome.

    Call to schedule an in-home consultation.

  • ASPEN

    207 Basalt Center Circle
    Basalt, CO 81621

    P: 970-988-0804

    Email

    sales@solarglass.com

    Appointments Available:

    Please give us a call to set up a time to visit our showroom.

    Evenings and Weekend appointments are welcome.

    Call to schedule an in-home consultation.

  • NORTHERN COLORADO

    4562 Denrose Court, Unit 4
    Ft. Collins, CO 80524

    P: 970-482-0042
    F: 970-635-2313

    Email

    sales@solarglass.com

    Showroom Hours:

    Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Saturdays open by appointment. Please give us a call to set up a time to come in.

    Call to schedule an in-home consultation.

  • EDWARDS COLORADO

    210 Edwards, Village Boulevard
    Edwards, CO 80632

    P: 970-988-0804

    Email

    sales@solarglass.com

    Showroom Hours:

    Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Saturdays open by appointment. Please give us a call to set up a time to come in.

    Call to schedule an in-home consultation.

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