Are Picture Windows More Efficient Than Sliding Windows?
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Are Picture Windows More Efficient Than Sliding Windows?

Are picture windows more efficient than sliding windows? You might be asking yourself this question if you're in the market for new windows and want to make sure the windows you choose will help reduce your energy bills. In this post, we'll explain what makes picture windows and sliding windows energy efficient and share some pros and cons of each window style to help you decide which windows make sense for your home.

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Picture Windows vs. Sliding Windows

Picture windows are windows that cannot be opened, they're often called fixed windows. Although they can't open, picture windows still allow light to enter a space. Picture windows are great for framing views in rooms or on walls where ventilation isn't necessary. They're also a nice feature in darker hallways or smaller rooms where a little bit of natural light can go a long way.

Sliding windows operable windows that can increase natural ventilation. These windows open by sliding the glass sash along the window frame similar to hung windows except slider windows open horizontally. This function is a popular choice as it takes up minimal space, is easy to operate, and brings in lots of light.

Are Picture Windows More Energy-Efficient Than Sliding Windows?

Picture windows are more energy-efficient than sliding windows or any other style. This is due to their permanent seal and the exclusion of movable parts. A fixed window's lack of ventilation limits cold sneaking through in the frosty months. Picture windows are more energy-efficient by design but can be made even more so with multi-pane glass units and low-e coatings, the same is true for sliding windows and other window styles.

Sliding windows have multiple moving parts and as such it's not designed to perform more efficiently than picture windows but a house can't be made only of picture windows. The slider style is still a good choice for residential windows, it may never match the efficiency of the picture window but it can be built to meet energy code criteria in your area. Also consider that differences in other materials used in the window can also affect its energy performance.

Should I Get Picture Windows or Sliding Windows?

Get both! Picture windows do not open and won't meet egress requirements for residential application. Sliding windows typically have one fixed sash and an operable sash and they can be used in combination with other window styles. One popular combination is a large picture window above with one or two smaller sliding windows blow. By pairing the two window styles, you can have the best of both - ventilation and unobstructed views. Take a look at the pros and cons below to learn a bit more about these window styles.

Pros and Cons of Picture Windows

Pros of Picture Windows
  • Energy-efficiency due to no moving parts or seals
  • Simple, contemporary design
  • Uninterrupted glass surface allowing for continuous views
  • Easy to clean
  • Increase curb appeal
  • It can be ordered in various shapes (round, half-round, diamond, trapezoid, and custom), making it suitable for awkward spaces in the home
Cons of Picture Windows
  • Cannot open, no ventilation
  • Can create hot spots throughout the home in the heat of summer
  • Do not meet egress requirements

Pros and Cons of Sliding Windows

Pros of Sliding Windows
  • The simple sliding operation makes it a durable window choice, with no hinges, cranks, or balances
  • Best choice for heavy use
  • Good for ventilation and no slamming of windows
  • No obstruction when opened
  • An affordable choice when compared to other opening window styles
Cons of Sliding Windows
  • Frequent cleaning of the sliding slot is required to avoid blockages that cause the window to stick
  • Over time, seals loosen and can cause air leaks

Making the Glass Choice

Window choices can be fun and practical. The decision between picture windows and sliding windows is more of a question of function than efficiency. Remember, you can usually find ways to design your window to be more energy efficient but you can't change the way it opens or if it opens. Choose sliding windows if you need windows that open and choose picture windows if ventilation or egress is not a concern. 

October 30, 2020
July 20, 2022


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