The value of UASK

Ask a Builder

By CCHRC Staff A The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

Q: I’m looking at buying new windows. What do you recommend?

In the case of windows, look for a low Uvalue. The Uvalue is a measure of how well a window conducts heat. If you are going to build a home that meets the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation 5star Plus standard then, for Fairbanks, the recommended maximum Uvalue is 0.25, which will probably be a triple pane window . If the window doesn’t have an NFRC label (National Fenestration Rating Council) make sure the Uvalue rating applies to the entire window, not just the glass.

When it comes to shopping for windows, both vinyl and fiberglass will do fine if they are properly designed for our climate.

Metal frames should be avoided, as they are great conductors and will transfer heat outside your home quickly and are at higher risk of attracting condensation.

If you are looking at local companies, see if they will share client information. Sometimes the best feedback comes from people that have already had the windows in place for a year or two. Good warranties are important as well. Look into a comprehensive longterm warranty that covers hardware and seal failure.

Q: With all the weatherization and tightening going on lately, I’ve been wondering about indoor air quality.

Does my propane stove present a risk?

A lot of people like to cook with propane, but it is important to remember that it is a combustion appliance and, as such, falls into the same category as wood stoves and boilers. A propane stove should have a range hood that is vented directly outside and working properly .

Use the fan when you are cooking. Because a propane stove burns with an open flame, a hood vented to the outdoors is especially important because it removes the harmful byproducts of the combustion process, such as carbon monoxide (CO), from flowing into your living space.

On a typical propane stove, there is an opening at the back that vents the combustion gas from the oven. This opening is located above or below the controls and is intentionally placed in the back so the appliance vents directly up to the range hood vent, rather than into the room. If you are concerned about cold air coming in through the ducting when the fan is not running, an inline backdraft damper can be installed to provide a tight seal.

On a related note, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in the home. CO detectors with a digital readout are the best as they can record CO levels in addition to providing an alarm when the level is too high.

Alaska HomeWise articles promote home awareness for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC). If you have a question, email us at can also call the CCHRC at (907) 457-3454.