Technically, a warm edge spacer is any sealer that is more effective than a cold edge aluminum spacer, including steel spacers. Beyond steel spacers, the technology to improve heating efficiency has produced a number of innovative solutions for window edges.
Why We Should Care About Warm Edge Spacers
A building envelope is an engineering term describing the physical separation between indoors and outdoors and how well they block the transfer of heat, light, noise, and the weather. In this sense, windows can be one of the greatest points of transfer of all the above, which is a cause for environmental concern. Improvements have been made to the glass and the air trapped between the window panes with glazing and optimized air mixes, respectively. Improvements to the construction of window edges hasn’t caught up until recently.
The Benefits from Research and Development in Spacer Technology
Spacers can be made of metals, but other materials will also work, including insulating glass and flexible silicone foam. Both types of material have a high U-value, meaning heat will not be easily lost from the indoors to out in the winter and outside to in during the summer. It may strike some customers as a surprise that companies would use glass as an insulator due to its heavy nature.
Metal is certainly a strong material, but there are other materials that sufficiently preserve the integrity of the window. The insulating glass unit (IG) actually flexes with changes in the environment, therefore an edge spacer that is too rigid may not be ideal. With fluctuations in heat and humidity, the window panes can flex inwards or outwards like two convex or concave surfaces. The application of silicon foam in a spacer makes the material flexible enough to support the changes to the IG, leading to less stress on the window panes and longer period of use without replacement.
In addition to inventive design of new warm edge spacers, some manufacturers fill the spacers with desiccants to remove moisture from the air between the panes of glass. The reduced moisture can prevent condensation from forming on the inside, which sometimes happen when the trapped air meets the warm inner pane of the glass.
With some spacers, your U-value can increase by 10%. Depending on the number of windows in your building and the difference between room temperature and the weather outside, the improved U-value can lead to a significant saving in heating/cooling costs.
Anne Flemings loves interior designing and is always in pursuit of the latest changes and trends in home improvement. She is an expert in designing spectacular house windows and doors. Her other interests lies in cooking, painting and blogging. She is an enthusiast homemaker who lives in Toronto with her husband and two kids. She can be followed on twitter.