Sound Abatement

The US Coast Guard on Treasure Island couldn’t sleep through the enormous pile driving effort that was going on around the clock. The contractor for the Bay Bridge seismic retrofit team asked for our help. Here are some of the options I gave them. They’ll work for you, too, if noise reduction is a key concern in your window installation project. 

  • The least expensive option is the use of dissimilar glass panes. It works well and is a relatively low cost upgrade. Our vinyl frame manufacturer, Amerimax, provides 1/8” and 3/16” panes of glass (instead of both 1/8”) for this purpose. Their third party testing showed STC (Sound Transmission Co-Efficient) ratings similar to that of laminated glass.
  • Using laminated glass is another, but higher cost, option. “Lami” has a thin piece of polyvinyl butyral between two pieces of glass (think of car windshields that hold together when broken). Most experts agree that superior soundproofing can be achieved with laminated glass.
  • Another choice is to keep the existing windows in place and put another set of windows inside — which is what we did for the US Coast Guard.  
  • A higher price, but effective choice, is the use of thicker panes. Our Fleetwood architectural aluminum windows use 5 to 6 mm panes of glass (almost 3 times the thickness used in vinyl windows) which makes a significant sound difference.

Whether there’s a busy intersection outside your window, a neighbor learning to play the drums or you want to build your own sound studio, our consultants will help you determine your best window and noise abatement solution. 

And by the way, the Bay Bridge got retrofitted and the US Coast Guard slept a lot better.

Argon Is Another Misunderstood Window Option.

I had a request this week for a window quote with LowE2 with argon which just doesn’t make sense.  If you are located where we have our sales and installation staff (Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, and surrounding area), you almost always just need LowE2.  If you are outside a coastal area in California, you’ll need LowE3 and argon.  In short, argon is used to replace air between the 2 panes of glass and does improve energy efficiency, but like solar panels, it becomes less efficient over time.   Industry numbers for argon dissipation are generally 1-2% per year with argon below 90% affecting its efficiency.  Just like LowE3 (see our March blog), we recommend our customers buy what is required rather than spend money where it is not needed. 

Until our state started setting stringent codes for energy efficiency, hardly anyone asked for argon.  If you live in a coastal area, then you don’t need it as LowE2 works almost always for where we have our sales and installation staff.   

LowE3 Is Better Than LowE2. We Beg To Differ

Let’s start off with what these are.  LowE2 is 2 thin coats of silver oxide on one of the surfaces of you dual paned glass so it is reasonable to assume that LowE3’s 3 coats are even better as the reduce heat flowing out of your home (measured by U-Factor) or the sun heating your home up from the outside (SHGC).  On a cool winter day in San Francisco, a bit of sunlight heating up your floor is a good thing (besides your dog/cat will thank you for it) and 2 coats allow more sun in.  There is a reason why the state only requires you to have LowE2 in coastal cities.  In this case, the government is right.  Another item to consider is that LowE3 has a darker tint to it which some people don’t like on their homes as it looks industrial.  If you live in San Jose, Pleasanton or father into the east bay, you don’t have a choice and need LowE3.  

Call for a in-home visit and ask as we know the code better than most.   

New Energy Efficiency Standards

A new Energy Efficiency Standards update came out on January 1st that dictates what codes builders and remodelers need to meet going forward.  Commonly known in the trade as Title 24, this is the first update since mid 2014 with no changes to window efficiency whilewall and roof insulation is now much more stringent.  The next update is expected in 2020 when net neutral homes are expected.  We all love to hate regulations especially when it affects what we personally want to do, but we as Californians, voted this direction in. 

So, what are the Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24) that I have to meet? 

While there are 16 zones in California, the rules are much simpler. 

  1. Windows in all zones need to have a U-Factor (heat going out of your home) of .32 or less.  That is all that is required in our prime locations of Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley and surrounding area.  
  2. Zones that are not in coastal areas also require a Solar Heat Gain Co-efficient (the outside heating up your home) need and SHGC of .25 or less.  San Jose requires this.  So does Morgan Hill where I live (yes, it is a commute).  

If you are unsure, just give us your zip code and we’ll tell you what zone you are in and what rules apply. 

Window Specialist uses high-tech to help KTVU 2 News uncover East Bay contractor scandal

Window Specialist uses high-tech to help KTVU 2 News uncover East Bay contractor scandal

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- 2 Investigates has discovered that at least a dozen customers of a local window company who purchased high-efficiency windows "didn’t get what they paid for," according to a former employee.

KTVU obtained contracts from at least a dozen customers all across the Bay Area who purchased Low E3 glass from Anamar Window and contractor Clear Vision Windows, based in Hayward. But former employee Mark Torres claims that many customers didn’t actually get Low E3 glass for their homes, but instead were given a lower, cheaper grade of glass -- without their knowledge.