What Are Double Pane Windows? Differences, Costs, & Benefits

Many of our customers overlook a simple measure to effectively warm their homes and reduce their electricity bills: double pane windows. Installing double-pane windows can provide many benefits to your home. 

Double pane, or dual pane windows, are windows with two panes of glass glazed to the movable part of the window (sash) and placed in the window’s frame. The glaze insulates the window, and in turn, your home. 

People with older homes should strongly consider the upgrade to double pane windows. Why are double pane windows better? Allow me to explain. 

What Do Double Paned Windows Do?

Double pane windows have a small space between the two glass panes that creates an air pocket. This air pocket keeps the outside elements from affecting the temperature inside of your home. This air space also contains a desiccant that prevents condensation from forming. 

The more energy-efficient windows have argon gas fill between the panes for extra insulation. Argon is a clear, slow-moving, odorless gas that significantly greatens thermal efficiency. 

The large difference between single and double pane glass is the structure. Single pane glass has one pane while double has, you guessed right, two panes! A single pane window costs less, sure, but your heating and A/C bills are going to be steep. You are looking at saving roughly 20% to 30% with double pane windows. Over time, the savings are significant. 

Windows are often the main source of temperature loss for a home. If you have old single-pane or poorly installed windows, you are racking up the electrical bill with little to show for it. If you are not thinking of the long-term picture here, you are going to pay for it quite literally. Over time, double pane windows will pay for themselves, with returns of around 80%

An extra pane of glass also means extra sound reduction from outside noise resulting in a quieter home. Cut down on noise pollution from car engines, loud children, and those noisy squirrels and birds. 

Do double pane windows need storm windows? Luckily for us, they do not. Double pane windows remove the nuisance of putting up and taking down storm windows, an arduous task come spring and winter. The need for extra protection from summer and winter temperatures is therefore removed. Beyond this, think of all the time saved from having to do this year in and year out!

Double pane windows are available in many beautiful styles such as single hung windows, horizontal sliders, and fixed picture windows. Installing dual pane windows in your home will be sure to provide you with a quieter, happier environment for you to enjoy. 

Going Green

When I talk about going green, I am not talking about solar panels and wind turbines here. The average American household spends $1,500-2500 on energy bills and 45% of that cost is for heating and cooling. The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) labels are an effective measure of how well a product can retain heat inside of a room, how much air will enter the room through a product, and other important qualities. 

TNT Home Improvements prides itself on providing quality Amerimax window installations in the Loveland, CO area. These windows have excellent NFRC ratings and meet or exceed Energy Star requirements in all climate zones. Beyond that, they are beautiful to look at.

Your Individual Carbon Footprint

Home energy use comprises a huge chunk of your carbon footprint, with estimates that this eats up around 27 percent. It is estimated that replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows will save on average up to $465 per year.  

Window Films

Window films can be applied to a window after installation. Solar control window film is designed to reflect UV rays. If you want non-reflective and have the cash, ceramic film is an option and is suitable for all climates. Dual reflectivity film allows you to clearly look out your window at night instead of staring at your own reflection as you would see with standard reflective solar control films.

60% Of All U.S. Homes Have Double Or Triple Pane Windows

It is estimated that over 118 million American homes have double or triple-pane windows. This makes up 60 percent of all U.S. homes. However, that means 40% of homes are using old, inefficient technology. Single pane windows can be appealing with the low price tag upfront, but the homeowner will spend much more on utilities with this approach in the long run. 

Improving Double Pane Window Efficiency

Windows are a significant point of energy loss in a home. Here are a few tips to help improve window efficiency:

  1. Use Thermal Curtains: Thick thermal curtains provide great insulation.
  2. Add Window Insulating Film: Thin, clear plastic film will slow thermal loss.
  3. Weatherproofing: Older windows may be opening around the framing. Exterior-grade silicone caulk will take care of this. 
  4. Replace Foggy Windows: Foggy windows between the two panes have faulty seals and gas has leaked. Either the window sash or the entire window will need replacement. 

Why Are Double Pane Windows Better? 

Double pane windows save money and can reduce energy usage by up to 24% during the winter and 18% during the summer compared to single-pane models. With some top-of-the-line models, you can expect up to 50% energy savings. Double-paned windows are good for the environment, and they significantly reduce outdoor noise pollution, especially in busy, urban areas. 

Cons Of Double Pane Windows

There are not really any inherent cons to double pane windows. However, poor window quality and installation can certainly impact your expected energy savings. Ultimately, you get what you pay for! Failed seals or windows that fail can lead to condensation between the panes and other issues. Another downside is that you do not really get the sought-after benefits unless you replace all your old windows. Replacing one window will not change a whole lot. You still have all those other old, inefficient windows, well, being inefficient. 

Poor Installation or A Cheap Product Will Cost You 

Have double pane windows that, despite cleaning inside and outside, remain cloudy despite your efforts? There is a good possibility that you may have condensation. This forms inside double pane windows when the desiccant in the air space between panes becomes saturated. Double pane windows have a thick sealant around the edges. Gradually, warm air (holding more moisture) seeps into the air space and releases moisture as it cools. The desiccant absorbs it until it eventually does not work. At this point, the glass units need to be replaced. 

Cloudiness is a visual issue, not having a huge impact on energy efficiency, but if budget allows for it, consider the switch to double pane. 

The Economical, Environmental-Friendly Choice

Opting for double pane windows, while more expensive upfront, will save you a lot on your annual energy bill and is an environmental-friendly choice. If you do not have quality products that have been installed by established professionals, you are taking a big risk (think leaky sealants, cloudy windows, and noise pollution). Windows are often the main source of energy loss for a home and making the decision to purchase double-pane windows can make a huge difference. 

If you are in the Loveland, CO area, be sure to contact TNT Home Improvements with any window-installation-related inquiries and we will be sure to get back to you in a timely manner. We are Loveland’s premier deck builder, patio cover installer, window replacing, and siding contractor professionals!

What Type of Window Is Most Energy Efficient?

Windows come in as many varieties as the houses they illuminate. However, just like houses, not all windows are created equal, and some are significantly more energy-efficient than others. Your windows’ energy efficiency should always be considered when upgrading or building your house for the first time.

In terms of windows that can open, casement windows perform the best to prevent air leakage, making them an excellent energy-efficient choice. However, consider the u-value of any window that you intend to purchase and the material it is constructed from. Those factors will also determine its overall energy efficiency.

As you might expect, choosing the right window for your home involves taking many different aspects into account. Something that you should review if you are planning to get your windows replaced.

What Should I Look For When Buying New Windows?

Buying new windows for your home is an excellent opportunity to improve your house’s overall energy efficiency and bring in a fresh feeling at the same time. The sheer amount of choices when buying windows can be daunting. However, taking the time to understand what each term and style of window really means for your home can go a long way in preparing you for making that major purchase.

The following is a break down of many of the more popular materials and styles available for the windows of your home. This list is not exhaustive, but it should give you an understanding of many of the factors that go into deciding the right windows for you.

Window Frames

This option may seem like a negligible one in terms of importance. Still, the frame that your window is housed in will significantly contribute to your house’s energy efficiency and determine the amount of maintenance required.

Aluminum & Metal Frames

Frames made of aluminum or other metals are expectedly very durable and require little to no maintenance regularly. Unfortunately, this type of frame also conducts heat very quickly, making it a poor insulating material choice. To make them as effective as possible, aluminum or metal-framed windows must include a thermal break between the interior and exterior of the frame and sash of the window that will help maintain insulation.

Wood Frames

Wood frames are the most traditional style of framing that has existed for hundreds of years. This material insulates exceptionally well but can require significant amounts of maintenance depending on climate and humidity. Generally, wood frames function better and require less maintenance in drier climates as there is less chance of mold and rot.

Fiberglass Frames

Fiberglass frames are a durable option that is thankfully not prone to warping and will also have air pockets that can optionally be filled with insulating material to improve their already impressive thermal properties.

Vinyl Frames

Window frames made of vinyl have excellent moisture resistance, which gives them a leg up in humid climates. Like their fiberglass counterparts, these frames’ hollow cavities can be filled with insulation, giving them even more excellent thermal resistance.

Glass & Glazing

Unlike the window frames of your house, which will likely be uniform due to climate and visual considerations, the glass inside those frames may differ depending on their orientation, environment, and building design. The glass and glazing you choose will significantly affect your home’s energy efficiency and should not be overlooked.

Insulated Panes

When shopping for new windows for your home, you will undoubtedly run across the term insulated more than once. For windows, insulated refers to windows that have two or more panes of glass that are spaced apart and hermetically sealed, which leaves an insulated air pocket between them.

Low-Emissivity Coatings

Low-emissivity coatings, commonly referred to as low-E coatings, lowers the u-factor of your windows, which translates to about a 30-50% greater energy efficiency than windows without this coating. The coating itself is a microscopically thin layer of metal or metallic oxide that is almost invisible. It is usually applied during manufacturing but is available in DIY kits for homeowners to apply to their existing windows as well.

Spectrally Selective Coatings

Technically speaking, this is another form of low-e coating. It is designed to filter out the infrared spectrum of light, which reduces the heat that transfers through your windows by 40-70% without compromising the visual spectrum of light. This style of glass coating is essential in scorching and sunny climates.

Gas Fills & Spacers

While this element may seem unusual, it is essentially an improvement to the double-pane spacing mentioned earlier. Instead of just using air between two glass layers as insulation, using inert, transparent, odorless, and non-toxic gasses like argon or krypton can offer tremendous insulative properties. Both options are excellent choices; however, it should be noted that krypton is the more expensive of the two.

Operation Style

The operating style of your window is simply the term used to describe if and how it opens and closes and in what manner it seals. Alongside the other factors mentioned above, the style of your window will contribute to its energy efficiency.

  • Fixed / Picture – This term describes windows that do not open or close. This style is notable because if it is installed correctly, it will be completely airtight.
  • Casement / Awning / Hopper – Each of these window styles are exceptional at sealing with minimal air leakage because the sash of the window closes by pressing against the frame. Each of these windows are hinged and swing open from the side, top, and bottom, respectively.
  • Single Sliding / Double Sliding – This style refers to windows where the sashes slide horizontally. There is only one sash that slides in a single sliding window, whereas both sashes slide in a double sliding window. While this style of window is prevalent in many homes, it suffers from significant air leakage due to the design of its sashes.
  • Single Hung / Double Hung – This window style is essentially the vertical version of the sliding variant listed above. Similar to that style, only the lower sash slides in the single variety, whereas both sashes slide in the double-hung variety. Also, these windows have significant air leakage issues like their counterparts.

Can I get a tax credit for installing energy-efficient windows?

Federal and municipal governments encourage many energy-efficient improvements to homes, which often leads to questions about whether tax credits are available for energy-efficient windows. While many places offer tax credits in differing amounts for these kinds of changes, it varies heavily from country to country and even from region to region within countries.

Reach out to your local or federal government to inquire whether you can earn tax credits for making energy-efficient upgrades to your windows. While these improvements can sometimes be costly, you can save money on your heating and cooling bills. If tax credits are available as well, that can further subsidize your costs.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Windows are a massive part of nearly every home on the planet. Taking the time to learn about the different options available to you when you are making upgrades to this essential feature will pay down the road fiscally and in terms of comfort. Whether you need to fix a single problematic window or you want to upgrade all of your fixtures, ensure that you have experts by your side every step of the way.

Check out our energy-efficient window solutions for your home and reach out to us with any questions or concerns that you might have.