For many residents of the Southern United States, hurricanes and other types of severe storms are an unfortunate but unavoidable part of everyday life. You can’t escape them, you can only prepare for them. These “acts of god” aren’t likely to go away any time soon either; in fact, due to the rapidly worsening global phenomenon of climate change, they are likely to increase in frequency and intensity.
Most residents of states frequently affected by hurricanes are well aware of the realities that these gargantuan storms incur, and do their part to prepare for them. Hurricane codes dictate the measures that must be taken to allay damage from these storms, and share useful insights into how to best prepare for them.
From elevated foundations to hurricane anchors and water drainage systems, there is a wide variety of different solutions that are available, giving homeowners the ability to protect their property from storm damage. You may have heard of most of these solutions, but there’s one that may have evaded your attention: impact resistant windows.
Impact resistant windows are one of the best solutions to the struggles of homeowners who live in hurricane affected areas, yet they remain one of the least widely implemented. Due to their unassuming appearance and low cost, many homeowners pass on the opportunity to install impact resistant windows in favor of more visible anti-hurricane measures.
So what are impact resistant windows, and what are the benefits of installing them in your home? These are the questions that we will be answering in this article. We’ll also be giving you some handy tips on how to best make use of this hardware, and sharing our experiences with the technology. Let’s begin!
What are impact resistant windows?
Although demand for a storm-proof alternative to traditional plate glass windows had been mounting for decades, the unprecedented destruction wreaked by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 brought calls for this technology to a head. Across the South Eastern United States, it became abundantly clear that something had to be done, and done quickly at that.
To meet this demand, building codes began to be modified to require impact resistant hurricane windows to be installed in newly constructed homes. Unlike traditional plate glass windows, the glass used in these windows would be coated with a highly resilient compound of polyvinyl butyral or ethylene-vinyl acetate that are highly resistant to shattering.
When hit by gale force winds such as are commonplace in category 5 hurricanes such as the recent hurricane Dorian, this protective coating on the surface of the glass prevents it from shattering. Furthermore, the coating also reduces the risk of injury to occupants of the home, due to the way it responds to impact from objects travelling at high speeds.
Whereas traditional windows tend to shatter to pieces when struck by an object moving at a high velocity, impact resistant windows fracture in a spiderweb pattern instead. This serves both to prevent the danger of shards of glass injuring residents of the home, and also as a means of preserving the window as a somewhat effective barrier against the elements until a new one can be installed.
What are the benefits of installing impact resistant windows?
While the benefits of installing impact resistant windows may seem readily apparent, there are actually a number of supplementary benefits that you might not have known of beforehand. Impact resistant windows carry a wide range of benefits that add a great deal to the value of the home, your safety and even the aesthetic appeal of your home. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits now!
Safety in a storm
First and foremost, let’s start with the most obvious benefit of installing impact resistant windows: safety. While evacuation may be recommended in some cases, if you live in an area frequently affected by hurricanes you’re likely to be staying home for at least one or two of the less severe hurricanes each year.
This is where impact resistant can come in very, very handy. During a hurricane, it’s not unlikely that your windows are going to be struck by high speed winds and possibly even flying debris. If you’re going to be waiting out the hurricane inside the relative safety of your home, you’re going to want some impact resistant windows.
Why is that, you ask? Well, think about what happens when high speed winds or debris hit a surface like glass. If the glass is the traditional single pane product typical of many houses, it’s highly likely to shatter upon impact, sending shards of glass flying in every direction. With impact resistant windows, you’re more likely to see your window remain in its frame, albeit with a spiderweb pattern of fractures spreading from the point of impact.
Protection from storm damages
Although the initial investment associated with installing impact resistant windows may deter you from installing them, rest assured that you won’t regret your investment. On average, impact resistant windows save homeowners living in hurricane-prone areas two to three times what they invested to install them.
Over the course of the lifetime of your impact resistant windows’ lifetime, you are likely to save a substantial amount of money when you consider the costs associated with replacing conventional windows broken by storms. While they may still need to be replaced from time to time if hit by flying debris, impact resistant windows are overall a great investment if you live in an area heavily affected by hurricanes.
If you’ve ever spent money on replacement windows after your currently installed hardware was destroyed by high winds or debris, you’ll be aware of the exorbitant costs that accompany replacement of windows, and should be exceptionally receptive to this technology. If you live in an area affected by high winds, you should definitely consider installing impact resistant windows for this reason.
Superior insulation value
Another salient feature of impact resistant windows is the almost complete protection from ultraviolet (UV) light rays that can damage your optic nerves and contribute to several different types of cancer. This is due to the unique composition of the compound used to coat impact resistant windows, and is quite attractive if you live in an area that sees a lot of sun each year.
Additionally, since most impact resistant windows are thick and assembled in a double pane configuration, they also offer excellent insulation from sound. For those who live in urban or metropolitan areas, this protection from sound can go a long way towards making your home quieter and more peaceful.
Finally, this double pane configuration also increases insulation r-values substantially, meaning you will spend less money on heating and cooling each month. Double pane glass means less hot and cold air escaping your home, and less money spent on heating and cooling bills. When you factor this into your calculations, the higher upfront costs are even more palatable.
Reduced home insurance costs
Among all the benefits associated with installing impact resistant windows, one of the most attractive is the reduction in home insurance costs. If you live in an area heavily affected by hurricanes and other high winds, you’re probably already very familiar with the high costs of paying for home insurance due to the risk of property damage.
While this may not seem fair to you as a homeowner, these high insurance costs are slightly more understandable when you consider the enormous costs in property a single hurricane can cause. As a result of 1999’s hurricane Andrew, experts estimate that over $25 billion in property damage was caused, much of which was paid for by insurance companies.
As a result of this, insurance companies often charge exorbitant rates for homeowners living in these areas. If you want to lower your rates, give your insurance company a call; with the installation of a few impact resistant windows, your monthly or yearly rates may go down by as much as forty percent.
Protection from break ins
Finally, impact resistant windows also offer vastly improved protection against break ins. While they are not often marketed as such, impact resistant windows are highly shatter resistant, making it difficult to break and enter your home without substantially increased effort. Of course, impact resistant windows aren’t equitable to security glass or window grates; nevertheless, they’re certainly an improvement over traditional pane glass windows.
This benefit should be exceptionally attractive if you live in a metropolitan area that is frequently subjected to high speed winds, as the installation of these windows can reduce your risk of becoming the victim of property crime. If your city is not among those with the lowest property crime rates in the country, you should definitely consider impact resistant windows for installation in your home.
For those who own modern or contemporary homes with large plate glass windows, there’s another reason to install this type of hardware: aesthetics. Due to the composition of the compound used to coat impact resistant windows, they’re often highly reflective, adding a layer of privacy between you and the outside world.
Although impact resistant windows are somewhat more expensive than their traditional counterparts, it’s clear to see that the added protection against high speed winds is well worth the investment if you live in an area often affected by this type of weather. When you factor in all the other added benefits of impact resistant windows, we think it’s all but a done deal. We think you’ll agree!
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