Ever-increasing utility bills are a huge problem for many homeowners, and the first home improvements that many people make are ones that will increase the energy efficiency of their homes.
The biggest problems, when it comes to heating, are the roof (after all, heat rises), walls, and windows. Loft insulation is easy to install, and will make a huge difference to heating bills. After that, window improvements are the next logical step.
Energy Efficient Windows
Most recent developments have double glazing, however, if you’ve just bought a property in a city with a wide range of housing developments of different ages, such as Nottingham for example, you may find windows with single panes, or triple glazing.
Some period properties may have secondary glazing instead of double glazing. With secondary glazing, the extra pane is installed behind the main pane, leaving the original glass intact. This option isn’t quite as effective as true double glazing, but it is a useful option for cases where you’re reluctant to remove the original, period windows.
How Energy Efficient Windows Work
Double glazed windows have two panes of glass with a small gap between them. Gas (sometimes plain air, sometimes an inert gas with better insulating properties) is trapped between those panes, and creates a barrier that keeps heat in.
The average home can make substantial savings to fuel bills every year by getting double glazing fitted. The windows should last 20 years, or longer, if they are looked after correctly.
Choosing the Best Double Glazing
The best energy efficient windows are ones that are marked as being Low-Emissivity (Low-E). These windows have a special metal oxide coating on the internal panes. This coating is not visible to the naked eye, but greatly reduces the amount of heat that escapes through the window.
It’s a good idea to look for windows with argon, xenon, or krypton in the gap between the panes, and “warm edge” spacers, rather than metallic spacers.
What about the frame?
The choice of frame often comes down to personal preference. Wooden frames require more maintenance, but they have a smaller environmental impact. UPVC frames are much longer lasting, and can be recycled, but are considered less environmentally friendly. Composite frames – containing a mix of wood and metal, are a good compromise for those looking for a long-lasting, weatherproof frame with as low an environmental impact as possible.
The Cost Analysis
It can take a long time for double glazing to pay off financially, and there may be some cases where it’s a false economy. If you’re planning on moving home in the near future, and you don’t think that you’ll get the installation cost back when you sell the house, then you may decide to forego double glazing and simply fit secondary glazing, or use thick, heavy curtains until you move.
For people who are planning on staying in their homes for several years, however, double glazing is usually worthwhile – not only for the financial savings, but for the increased comfort, and side benefits such as noise reduction.
This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Stormclad the window specialists. James writes on subjects relating to the home and is particularly interested in energy saving ideas.