Hit enter to search or ESC to close


Windows might not always seem as important as other parts of the home building process, but considering they can drastically impact comfort levels, they are worth paying close attention to. But what should you be considering when building with windows in mind?

In this article, we'll cover four key discussion points:

  1. Flow
  2. Light
  3. Warmth
  4. Aesthetic

1. Flow

Good air flow is vitally important for moisture management. Without it, you could be contributing to higher levels of condensation, which in turn can lead to the growth of black mould and adverse health effects. The challenge here, though, is that without a mechanical system (like HVAC), ventilation largely falls on a home's windows. If your choice of windows doesn't suit this task, you may find humidity hard to control.

Humidity and condensation can compromise building occupants' health and comfort. http://t.co/iYUNpTi3Ur #moisture pic.twitter.com/YSIcvaLYzg

— BRANZ (@BRANZlive) August 3, 2014

Thankfully, windows can also provide a number of solutions to this problem. Consider these tips:

  • Size and operability: Your architect can advise on the appropriate window size you need based on the NZ Building Code. But one thing to consider is that by opening a window just 30 centimetres for 10 minutes, according to a BRANZ study, you can reduce moisture levels in that space by as much as 14 per cent. This of course makes fully operable windows or sliding/stacking doors an absolute must throughout the property.
  • Trickle vents: One way you can guarantee your home is getting ventilated, at least slightly, is by installing trickle vents. Trickle vents are small openings that can be built within a window frame that let a small amount of air in and out. While not a complete answer to condensation, they certainly help if you think you'll forget to regularly ventilate your space. Vents are also great for windy areas like Wellington, where opening windows completely is often uncomfortable.

2. Light

Natural light is important for our well-being, not to mention our bills.

Natural light is important for our well-being, not to mention our bills. According to NC State University, natural light boosts the body's vitamin D storage, promotes productivity, helps you sleep and reduces the risk of nearsightedness in children. Of course, it also cuts down on the energy consumption of artificial lighting.

When choosing windows for your home, consider if you can add skylights and other small windows to spaces that you hadn't considered, like hallways. While you shouldn't go overboard with putting glass everywhere (see "Warmth"), even small additional windows can make a big difference to how well-lit your home is. This can also address ventilation issues with otherwise airtight spaces.

3. Warmth

Kiwi homes are infamously cold. In fact, last year's HRV State of the Home Survey found that four in 10 New Zealanders don't heat their home in winter to cut down on power bills. Why? Their homes don't have proper insulation, which means winter heating sends power bills into the hundreds. Windows are one area that, if not chosen properly, can compromise your thermal comfort.

Our advice to counteract this in your new home is to carefully choose windows that are appropriate for the conditions in which you live. There are two ways you can gain more efficient heating through glass:

  • Glazing: To determine how effective your window glazing will be, look for higher R values - this being a measurement of resistance to heat flow in the glass. Don't settle for less if you live in a cold region. Look for double or triple glazing, if not low-E glass or Argon gas filling (both of which increase a pane's R value). R values also apply to your walls and ceiling - you can learn more about this in the video below.
  • Orientation: The direction your windows face can dramatically change heat gain and loss. In living areas or bedrooms, ensure you have sizeable windows pointing north where possible, as this will capture a lot of daily sunlight. East-facing windows can get the morning sun, but should be insulated so not to lose the heat as soon as it rises. Western windows get afternoon sun, but can overheat if not insulated properly. Southern windows should typically be smaller.

Frames also make a big difference to a home's warmth. For instance, aluminium windows conduct heat from inside to out very easily, especially when thermal breaks (a type of heat barrier) are installed.

4. Aesthetic

Aesthetic is the final windows building block. You must consider what you want your windows to look like, and how you want them to feel. This area is highly subjective, and though we can't tell you precisely which style to choose, we can tell you what to consider so you can either make an educated decision by yourself, or walk through options with your architect.

  1. Purpose: Understand the purpose for your window, and all decisions follow after. For example, if a window is to provide good light or a large view, small casement windows will not suit (even if you prefer the look). But conversely, small windows could be good for a balance of privacy and ventilation.
  2. Light, ventilation, heat: Different shapes, sizes and styles affect our three other points as much as aesthetic. Don't forget to consider your visual needs as much as your other needs. You may like the look of wood framing, but it might perform poorer in winter.
  3. Thematic style: Minimalist, British-style cottage, Moroccan villa - whatever your overall theme, you must select windows that match it. Look into the styles common in your chosen theme before settling on your preferred window choices.
  4. Special considerations: Odd-shaped glass, tinted windows, coloured frames and other special considerations are all options, should you want them. Let your imagination run free, then talk to a windows specialist to understand how your dreams can be achieved.

To work with a windows and doors supplier that understands the needs of Kiwis and is always finding new ways to innovate and make windows smarter, talk to Altus Window Systems today.