Single-Pane Windows & When Replace Their Glass | Brennan
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Why It's Time to Replace Your Single-Pane Window Glass

Living in an older home has its perks. The stately old architecture and craftsmanship used decades ago feels unmatched today. Despite the nostalgia we have benefited from many improvements, specifically moving on from single-pane windows.

Single-pane glass used to be the only option available for windows. Thanks to advancing technology there are now several options including double-pane, triple-pane, and even quadruple-pane glass windows. 

So, why does it matter how many panes of glass your windows have? Why spend the money on the upgrade? Read on to find out.

What is Single Pane Window Glass?

If your window only has one piece of glass in it in each sash, it is a single pane window. Owners of older homes sometimes choose to keep single pane windows to maintain the authenticity of their home's architectural features. Original single pane glass can look as smooth and transparent as modern glass but glass over 100 years old may have a gritty appearance typical of hand-crafted glass windows. The look of centuries old glass is difficult to replicate and that's one reason why homeowners would want to keep the originals. 

Why Multi-Pane Windows are Better

The most significant amount of energy loss occurs through the windows in the home. The rest of the house, including the walls and roofing, consists of layers that provide insulation.  Unfortunately, clear and single-pane glass has no valuable insulating properties.

The insulation value in your home is what keeps the heat in and the outdoor temperature out. A well-insulated home maintains the temperature you want with low energy loss.

Glass doesn't provide insulation because it is a thermal conductor↗. This means energy can travel freely through the glass. The energy will try to reach an equilibrium between inside and outside. 

  • When the weather is cold and the heat is on you may experience heat loss. 
  • When the weather is hot and you've got the A/C on, you may experience heat gain causing your A/C unit to work harder to cool your home. 

When your windows only have a single pane of glass, there is nothing else standing in the way of energy loss and that's where multi-pane windows come in.

Multi-pane windows increase your home's energy efficiency by introducing a barrier to reduce thermal transfer. That barrier gives you greater control of the temperature inside your home. The key to creating efficiency in multi-pane windows is adding a layer of gas between each pane of glass.

Gas used in Insulated Glass Windows Units is colorless, odorless, and has a higher density than the atmosphere making it difficult for heat to travel through it.

Another positive aspect of having more than one pane of glass is sound reduction

Multi-Pane Window Options

  • Double Pane
  • Triple Pane
  • Quadruple Pane

There are considerations to keep in mind regarding how many panes your windows should be. More panes always means more increased energy efficiency. However, it also means a higher cost. Depending on the region you live in, additional insulation might not make enough of a difference.

When to Keep Single Pane Windows

Multi-pane windows are more energy-efficient and can save you a surprising amount of money in heating and air conditioning costs. There are some instances, however, when you might want to consider keeping those single pane windows instead of swapping them out.

  1. If you have a historic home complete with period windows, give special consideration to maintaining them. Original windows, especially those with hand crafted glass, cannot be replicated. They're also more likely to improve the value of the home than modern windows. 
  2. If your windows are custom and tailored to your home's style, consider what you will lose in aesthetic appeal by replacing them. Although you'll lose on energy benefits, keeping the single pane windows may make sense.
  3. If your single pane windows happen to be stained glass windows original to the home, consider keeping them as they can add a lot of value to the home.

Replacing windows or choosing to keep them comes down to what you value, ultimately if your home isn't a historic land mark you should upgrade your windows to double or triple pane glass. In addition to new insulating values in the glass, modern windows frames are available in more energy-efficient and durable materials. You'll likely find that windows with single-pane glass have aluminum or wood frames but today's best windows are made from vinyl and fiberglass composites. This type of upgrade will help you save money on your energy bills and is a great feature should you decide to sell your home in the future.

July 27, 2020
August 09, 2022


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