In South Florida, windows don't need to have a ton of bells and whistles that keep winter air out. They're mostly there for a window's primary purpose: to see the outside, and to feel, and smell some fresh air when weather permits. But, if you're on the coast in areas prone to hurricane winds, there are special building codes and regulations that involve impact testing. Windows just aren't something people think much about since most of the knowledge and wherewithal falls with contractors and engineers, who follow guidelines and regulations during the initial construction of a building, or a major renovation that re quires new windows.
Sometimes, windows just need to be replaced, especially if they are outdated and no longer perform their function well. But how do you tell? With a bit of knowledge, co-op and condo residents can be aware of the money being saved or lost as a result of the type of windows they have. With that knowledge, they can plan accordingly.
Many older high-rise buildings have large single-glazed windows, with small operable window units at the bottom for ventilation, or curtain wall window systems. Other condo buildings are low-rises, with an average height of two to eight floors, many of whom have windows that are double-hung. The main differential in window use comes between ground-floor windows and higher ones. “In Florida, in general, we have to deal with fallout. You need to make sure that if you're in a high-rise building or anything over a first story, you need to have a 42-inch fixed element or guard, or not have access to anything. That way a child or a pet can't fall out,” says Dan Sandoval, vice president of Wind Ready, Inc. in Miami.
Windows in low-rise buildings often can be improved with new vinyl or aluminum replacement windows. Due to the large amount of manufacturing companies, the cost of those windows is relatively low and replacement is simple, easy and doesn’t create any special problems for the board or the unit owner, if he or she is responsible for replacement.
And while sometimes an old window must be repaired or replaced, simple maintenance can help a lot in the meantime. One simple way to improve energy conservation in a condo is to completely close the windows, especially in South Florida where central air conditioning units are so common.