Glass is the designer’s muse. From the National Center of Performing Arts in Beijing, to the Mountain House in Manali, the material has elevated designs all over the world. But glass is more than just a pretty face. The play of heat and light that glass can direct has made it the designer’s favourite, especially for colder regions.
©Tom Bonaventure National Center of Performing Arts in Beijing
©Neelanjana Barua Mountain House, Manali
Winters are harsh, bringing heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures. People in the cold regions of India, especially in Kashmir and Himachal, long for the indoors when cold weather sets in. Gas and electric heaters flood the market, and people burn over two lakh quintals of wood to heat different establishments. If you no longer want to spend too much on heating, it is time to look at your windows, and not just through them. Khyber Himalayan, a resort in Gulmarg, is a great example of how one can reinvent windows. The resort has large glazed windows, which not only allow you to enjoy spectacular views but also enjoy the warmth in the harsh winters.
Even in homes, old windows can be replaced with energy-efficient materials to keep the house comfortable and warm. Choose windows, not for their operating style and good looks alone, but for their ability to function in your climate. Since your home’s heating load comes from the energy entering a window, avoid single-pane windows. Choose double or triple pane windows to reduce energy loss.
The right glass panes use the sun’s natural energy to warm your home. Most homeowners and architects are now tasked with specifying and sourcing glass with a specialized coating based on two factors, solar heat gain (SHGC) and U-Factor. SHGC is a factor used to determine how effectively the glass converts the sun’s radiation into heat while U-Factor is the rate at which non-solar heat is transmitted by the glass. Most homestays in Ooty and Kodaikanal use glass with a lower SHGC and low U-Factor. Glass with these characteristics keep houses warm and comfortable in the winter.
These factors are interrelated, and a smart architect or homeowner should design the house in a way that accentuates and embodies the same. They may increase the number of panes or windows in the house, which not only allows homeowners to appreciate the beauty of winter, but also keeps them warm in their homes.
Low-E glass is one of the best solutions for homes. It has a thin, microscopic coating of a low emissive material, which prevents the loss of heat, thereby lowering your heating costs. It is crucial to make the best use of energy, especially since every homeowner now wants to build a sustainable home.
Homes should be safe havens, and extreme weather is one of the key elements that we need guarding from. Houses in colder regions open up to beautiful views, however, the dip in temperatures can stop people from enjoying it. Designing residences that are coherent in ensuring thermal comfort and aesthetically pleasing is quite challenging but can be achieved. For after all, snow looks even more beautiful as it cascades over the mountain tops, when you are snuggled up by the warmth of the fireplace, looking outside the window onto the winter wonderland.
Soumya Rajagopalan is a freelance writer, and has written eBooks on different topics, including lifestyle, health and nutrition, and more. She also works as an information risk consultant.