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Joinery for low-energy houses or passive houses

Joinery is the component used to dress the openings (openings intended to let light and people circulate), i.e. doors and windows. Windows play an essential role in bioclimatism. In winter they must capture free solar gain while reducing heat loss. In summer, they must limit direct solar radiation to avoid overheating, while enable natural lighting. Therefore, joinery is often supplemented by shutters and sun protection.

Limit losses in winter: Single glazed joinery is inefficient. Performance improves significantly with double glazing, because double glazing allows to slow down the transmission of heat and thus increase the thermal resistance of your openings. The air or gas between the two panes of glass has an insulating effect and will prevent the pane inside your home from cooling down too much and too quickly. Common double glazing consists of 2 panes separated by an air gap 16 millimetres thick. Additional technologies improve performance:

  • Replacement of air by argon
  • Low-emissive glazing: deposit of metal oxide on internal side of one of the glazings that lets light through and retains infrared radiation inside that allows solar gain (heat and light) to enter while preventing long-wave infrared radiation (heat from objects and walls in the room) from leaving the house.
  • Classic triple glazing, and high-end double glazing have similar performance, and the last is lighter and less expensive.

Summer comfort: The first precaution is to limit the entry of solar radiation when sunshine is the strongest. Properly designed and sized in relation to the seasonal course of the sun, solar shading reduces direct radiation in summer without compromising solar gains in winter. Horizontal solar shading is especially useful on south facades and for buildings located in the Mediterranean climate zone.

Operational aspect. Replacing a joinery can be done partially or completely:

  • Completely, which implies to clear the frame of the wall.
  • Partially, by placing a specially adapted frame on the old one, if this one is healthy. In case of historical or heritage interest, replacement may not be possible. Furthermore, the installation of a double window inside the building makes possible to improve both thermal and acoustic performance.

Front door is another important element of joinery. It should include an insulating material that has the lowest possible thermal conductivity. In the case of an entrance door with glazing, it is recommended to use double glazing. Anyway, it is important to have an entrance door with air tightness at the frame and sash level.

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