If there was ever a product that has split the opinions of the industry and home owners alike it has to be the humble trickle vent. It’s appearance has changed over the year, but the attitude from many home owners towards it has changed very little, at least in my experience. They do not like them.


The whole point about trickle vents are to provide ventilation to rooms. Yet in reality, when most home owners want ventilation, they open a window. Of course the downside to that is an open window is a security risk, even when on the the in-built night vent setting.

Security is one of the reasons trickle vents have been a product that has stayed around. Opening windows will let the fresh air in, but they will also let the burglars in. Trickle vents allow that safe background ventilation, bringing in a slow stream of fresh. Good for the house and good for the lungs.

But wow, some of them have been ugly. Really ugly. And that has been this product’s problem from the very start. They have been square, bulky, unsightly, crammed into add-ons and stuck on the edge of sashes. They can easily ruin the look of any stunning installation.

There have been attempts by some companies to jazz them up, using different colours and finishes etc, but when it comes down to it, they are still unsightly plastic widgets stuck on to the inside and outside of a perfectly good window.

Energy efficiency issues

Remember when Building Regulations were going to make trickle on ALL windows mandatory on replacement and new-build work? The industry was certainly not approving of that proposed measure, and the revisions were scaled back.

Currently, trickle vents are needed primarily in two situations:

  • when the outgoing windows have trickle vents, the new windows must also have trickle ventilation of at least the same amount
  • windows in new-build works, such as extensions and new houses, must also have trickle vents

Outgoing windows without trickle vents do not need them in the new ones, though window companies are told by various bodies that they should recommend them.

There is then the argument that the energy efficiency of the window is compromised. Think about it, you produce this nice, energy efficient window, designed to keep all the heat in. Then you are asked to drill out a series of channels over which trickle vent sliders will be fitted. No matter how well you think those sliders close, there are always gaps. Whether open or closed, trickle vents will have some impact on the overall energy efficiency of the window. Warm air always wants to find a way out.

Not to mention how easily they get blocked up on the outside with bugs and general outdoors detritus!

Get used to it

The people making and selling trickle vents naturally love them, and will stick to their guns, using health and property benefits and their ammunition. That is to be expected. But speak to the all important people, the home owners, and I’d say nine out of ten will tell you they would rather do without them. What installers think of them is fairly irrelevant. They have to stick to the rules and that is that.

Trickle vents are here to stay, no matter how much we all argue about the tangible benefits and negative effects on energy efficiency. It’s written in the rule books and that’s that. My one hope is that they keep the current rules as they are. Should Government go back to the idea of enforcing all homes to have trickle vents when replacing windows then that will be a step backwards in terms of aesthetics, design and energy efficiency.

Of course, trickle vent design could always get better. In recent weeks it might have been improved. Go check out the new trickle vents from Aztec Windows.

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