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I need reliable recommendations for 8000 ft elevation windows

GBA Editor | Posted in General Questions on

I need reliable recommendations for 8000 ft elevation windows in a log home construction. Location in Westcliffe, Colorado in a valley between 2 mountain ranges—high wind at times & 300 plus days of sunshine. Mostly casement windows preferred. New log home construction needs.

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  1. Andrew Michler | | #1

    I live in Colorado as well and the story about finding good windows for our state is a long one. Good quality windows can take the intense Colorado sun, reflect the summer heat but allow in our great winter sunlight- I look for low-e with a high solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) greater than 45. Just about the only glass manufacturer is Cardinal (hard coat low-e high SHGC)- I know Jeld-Wen can spec this glass but ask around. Most in the industry think that argon gas does not perform well at your altitude- and you cannot get out of state windows with a gas fill. Casements are great, avoid sliders if you can as they don't seal well. I also find that vinyl window move a whole lot in out hot/cold environment, even the good ones, so thats another consideration when making the big decision. If you can afford triple pane you are now talking about widows that come close to the walls performance and the comfort to match.

    Here is a essay I posed a while back on the topic- Dude, tune your windows (and other simple stuff to make a better building)


  2. Susie Harrington | | #2

    Thanks so much for all the info---this really helps . We'll certainly also take in consideration the house placement---unfortunately, the best of the Sangres view will be west/southwest---the main living area, of course!. I know that a good overhang on those windows will help a little with the heat factor, but the hard coat, high SHGC will be the only way to go on those windows, it looks like.
    I'd already considered the Cardinal windows, and also Serious windows. Am hoping the cost won't be too much, since we''ll have to do it anyway.

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    Be careful -- you may not want high-SHGC windows facing west. West-facing windows are the most likely to contribute to summer overheating -- and they are very difficult to shade, because the sun is low in the sky in the late afternoon.

    Low-SHGC may be safer for west windows -- especially if you have large expanses of glass.

  4. Susie Harrington | | #4

    Checked my site map & it looks like we'll actually position the house more on a southwest to more south exposure for the back's greatroom, dining, & master bedroom views---should really help with that problem.
    Thanks for the great information! Now I just have to find those perfect windows!

  5. Andrew Michler | | #5

    I think Mark may have underplayed his answer. This is what I wrote in my blog once upon a time-
    "So what is wrong with view windows to the west? In Colorado, where I live that’s where the view is and it makes sense, we have such nice mountains. NO! Not about our mountains being nice, no to the seemingly irresistible urge to make a home an energy idiot. West facing windows gain a lot of heat in the summer months. You need a lot of ac to make it work and probably shades to reduce that late day heat, even with your fancy pants low e-4 glazing. So now you have a view of your shades. These windows give you the view in the winter but you’ll have to subsidize it with a lot of heat, aka money. The home I live in was originally set 20° west of solar south and now I wish I got a crane and turned it before I put in an addition. 20° makes that much difference and the view is still there, really.
    Studies have shown a 30% energy savings in just good building orientation. This is not cheap, it’s free! So when I am driving through the country and see houses sitting alone and their windows are everywhere but solar south I know their owners 401k is dedicated to keeping the home from being unlivable for the rest of the homes existence."

    Glad to here you can avoid those big west windows.

  6. Andrew Michler | | #6

    Just a quick thought on cost- you may opt to have no low-e coating on your southern windows if you have a concrete or tile floor. Could be a net energy gain with proper overhangs.

  7. user-659915 | | #7

    A house is not a TV. If you are serious about environmental performance, in the northern hemisphere face the home slightly east of south. Please abandon the assumption that a home should point directly at "the view" with its largest windows. Though this seems an obvious thing to do, ultimately it devalues the very thing you love. It's like listening to your favorite piece of music over and over, all day long, until it becomes just noise. A properly framed view window of thoughtfully limited dimension is an enticement to experience the real outdoors, not a replacement for that experience.

  8. Riversong | | #8


    Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors, and 35 hours per week they are sitting in front of a TV set. A good deal of the other 10% of the time, they are in vehicles.

    Never has a society experienced the world through glass as much as modern America. Perhaps if we built homes with no more windows than are needed for ventilation, we might actually venture outdoors once in a while to commune with the real world.

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