If your windows make your home cold and drafty, you know you’ve got a long winter ahead of you when weather team is throwing out terms like “wind chill factor” and “polar vortex” well before Thanksgiving. People replace their home’s windows for a lot of reasons: energy efficiency, ease of cleaning, appearance, and increasing the resale value of your home are all good reasons. However, we have found that the #1 reason people come to us for window replacement is comfort.
The quality of the window you choose, especially the window glass features, will largely determine how comfortable your home will be. The number of panes, the spacer system, the coating or films the glass is treated with and the gas (or lack of gas) forced between the sealed panes are the major factors in determining how well your windows will function.
The Spacer System
The spacer system refers to the material that separates the two or three pieces of glass in the window and how those pieces are sealed. The type of material used will determine how long the thermal pane will last. Without a tight seal, condensation is likely to form between the panes of glass and cold air will be more easily transferred into your home.
You can often tell the quality of the spacer system used by checking the warranty. If the window has a “Lifetime Limited Warranty”, the limited part often revolves around how long the manufacturer will warranty the window against seal failure. If the company only covers it for 2-5 years, and then seals fail, the homeowner will be responsible for replacing the “glass pack” at an average cost of $150 to $200 per glass sandwich. In many cases, in just a few years the homeowner is responsible for 90% of the items covered under the warranty.
The sealed area between your window panes will be filled with either air or gas. Window gas is injected between the panes of double or triple paned windows to slow the transfer of hot or cold air. The primary gas types are argon, krypton and xenon.
Low-Emissivity (Low-E) Window Coating
Most window manufacturers now offer coatings or films for window glass that limits the radiative heat flow between panes. The coating helps to reflect heat back into the home during the cold weather and back to the outdoors during warm weather, effectively increasing the insulation offered by the window. Low-E glass also has a thin, metallic coating on the inside of the outer pane of glass that repels UV rays harmful to your home’s interior.
Some consumers are concerned about losing natural light with coated windows. However, newer low-e films are made to reflect infrared light while still allowing visible light to pass through. This allows natural lighting into a space while minimizing heat or cold allowed through the windows.
Double or Triple Pane
The window industry has an ongoing battle on whether the “best value” is provided by double or triple pane windows.
One advantages of triple pane is exterior noise reduction. Triple pane also provides some additional condensation resistance because the fewer degrees difference in interior glass temperature between panes means you are less likely to have condensation on the inside of the glass in the winter.
One of the big disadvantages to triple pane windows is the additional weight. Anytime you have more weight you run the risk of wearing out your other moving parts more quickly.
A related concern about the weight of triple paned windows is safety. For example, if you are tipping in a large double-hung sash to clean it, will the added weight make that chore cumbersome and unsafe?
There are also questions about whether the performance advantage of triple pane windows really justifies its higher price. Typically, the analogy given is that if it is zero degrees outside and 68 degrees inside the triple pane glass will be 6-8 degrees warmer than with an average double pane. Many in the industry feel you can achieve comparable results and be money ahead by investing in a better quality, tighter double pane window than to buy more expensive triple pane window.
At Home Town Restyling, we have a wide range of replacement windows for every budget and professional installers on staff to complete the project on time and on budget. We also back up everything we do with lifetime warranty. Download our FREE Window Replacement Checklist and start planning like a pro.