UPVC – the sustainable material homeowners have been waiting for

To Build, 01 June 2024


Properly insulated homes are the next frontier for South Africa in a world of higher fuel prices and a harsh climate.

South African houses are notorious for being poorly insulated. The reasons for this are not understood entirely, but they certainly include cost. Another factor is undoubtedly the entrenched view that we have a great climate, and our winters are short, so we don’t need to build for extreme weather. However, while our winters may generally be brief, they are in fact sharp, and the summers are long and hot, argues Stephan Van Niekerk, the country manager of REHAU in South Africa (www.rehau.com/za-en).

While modern technologies make it more cost-effective to control the heat or the cold indoors, the energy cost is increasing (as are the penalties for using fossil fuel). Also, the most advanced heating or cooling technologies are less effective if heat transfer between the interior and exterior is not well controlled. In short, well insulated homes stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer, making for a more comfortable environment and reducing energy costs. Insulation also reduces fire risk.

The US Department of Energy says that approximately 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows, while 76% of sunlight enters to become heat in summer. This also depends on the quality of the doors and windows. So, the way a home is designed, and the materials used have been shown to have a significant impact on the climate comfort for residents.

Studies by REHAU show that window construction significantly reduces energy consumption. This impact is enhanced when other forms of insulation are used, such as wall and ceiling insulation. Depending on the glazing type, peak energy use in Durban and Johannesburg was shown to be reduced by 23-76%, and in Cape Town by 47-60%.

UPVC – the sustainable material homeowners have been waiting for

Timber is one of the best insulators of the materials used in window & door structures, but it is expensive to maintain. Aluminium is long-lasting but, unfortunately, is also an excellent conductor, thus facilitating the transfer of heat into the building in summer and cold in the winter.

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uPVC has long been the preferred material for energy-efficient windows and doors in Europe, America, and Asia. New uPVC technology is making uPVC window and door frames cheaper, overriding what was previously a disincentive. uPVC’s insulating properties are one reason it is such a good material for door and window frames. Frames made from this material are also fully watertight and minimise drafts – huge factors for day-to-day comfort.

Non-conductivity also plays a role in an often-neglected area: noise reduction. Well-constructed windows can significantly reduce noise from the outside, which affects the well-being of inhabitants especially in noisy neighbourhoods. 

Sustainability is increasingly important, including recycling at the end of a building’s life. to uPVC is fully recyclable into new frames, which aligns with the drive towards a circular economy. 

For homeowners, maintenance and longevity are important considerations. uPVC frames are manufactured to resist sunlight and salt, making them durable even in harsh weather conditions. You can clean them with dishwashing liquid – no oiling or repainting needed.

With its emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability, a new range of materials is coming into its own. One of these is uPVC, which is now affordable to a broader range of homeowners.


REHAU Industries is a manufacturer of UPVC windows and door systems, Edgeband and Furniture boards. The REHAU Group is a family-owned business with 4 € billion turnover. Globally, the company has production facilities in 50 countries with 170 locations and 20,000 employees. 


REHAU Industries
Boitumelo Thipe-Mogami
Marketing Manager 
Email: Boitumelo.thipe-mogami@rehau.com

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