Everyone wants to feel comfortable in the winter without spending a fortune on heating bills. When it comes to keeping heat inside, your windows play a prominent role. Many older homes have warped, leaky, and/or single pane windows that don’t do your furnace any favors. In fact, such poor quality windows can increase your heating costs by 30 to 50 percent or more!
If your windows can’t cope with the weather, your furnace will make up the difference at the expense of your wallet. Learn the benefits of double pane windows and how they’re designed to keep the heat in and the cold out so your furnace doesn’t have to work so hard this winter.
Benefits of Double Pane Windows
You should consider high efficiency windows when the time comes to install replacements. The benefits begin immediately and can have a huge impact on your savings and comfort level. The specific benefits of double pane windows include:
- Lower utility bills
- Fewer drafts
- Better soundproofing
- Reduced condensation
What Makes Double Pane Windows Efficient?
The highest-quality double pane windows share many of the same energy-saving features. These include:
Insulating Air Space
Glass is a very poor insulator. Heat travels through it quite readily. However, when you add a second pane of glass and leave a narrow air space between them, the window suddenly has a much better thermal rating. The air space acts as a buffer against outdoor air to slow heat transfer through the glass.
High efficiency windows with a safe, non-toxic gas infill such as argon or krypton are even more efficient. These inert gasses are denser than air, thus slowing heat transfer through double pane windows even more.
In order for the insulating air space between double pane windows to be effective, the glass must be sealed tightly. A broken seal allows the gas infill to leak out and moisture to get in. This can cause condensation between the window panes. If you notice this problem, you may need to have your windows repaired or replaced to restore their energy efficient qualities.
Warm Edge Spacers
Spacers serve two primary purposes. First, they keep the glass in double pane windows a precise distance apart. This keeps the window stable and prevents high or low pressure that could break the seal. Second, they provide insulation around the edge of the window where heat loss is most likely to occur. This insulating quality is most effective if the spacers feature “warm edge technology” to reduce conductivity.
Special Glass Coatings
Many double pane windows feature coatings to increase their efficiency. Low-E glass is popular because it helps improve efficiency all year round. In the summer, it reflects UV light from the sun back outside. In the winter, it reflects infrared heat produced by indoor activities back into the interior. This coating also helps reduce fading from UV light to protect your furnishings.
Quality Frame Materials
Energy Star certifies a variety of window framing materials, provided they’re constructed with energy efficiency in mind. For example, you might assume aluminum frames are less efficient because metal conducts heat. However, when thermal breaks are built into the frame, aluminum windows can be efficient enough to earn Energy Star certification.
Other double pane window frame materials include fiberglass, vinyl, wood, and composite. Built with quality and performance in mind, all of these materials can contribute to a window’s energy efficiency.