How Does Double Glazing Work?

"Double glazing is now more popular than ever and houses with single glazed windows have become something of a rare sight in the UK since it became standard for new homes back in the 80s," says a property floorplan specialist at Floor Planz. There are many reasons for installing double glazed windows in new homes or upgrading from single to double glazing for older homes. While many people are aware of the excellent advantages of double glazing, they seldom understand how it actually works to achieve such excellent benefits.

How It Works

Windows are primarily designed to let in light whilst keeping cold air from entering a home. Both of these objectives are fulfilled by single glazed windows, however, they are poor insulators as they allow cold and heat to pass through easily, making it more expensive to heat or cool down the interior space of a home. Double glazed windows are excellent insulators and have been designed specifically to prevent heat or cold from entering or escaping. They are made up of two separate panes of glass with a gap of approximately 16mm in between maintained by a spacer bar and filled with either air or gas (krypton, argon, or xenon) which increases the insulation capacity of the unit.

The air trapped in the space between the two panes of glass effectively slows heat transfer through the process of poor conduction and convection which creates an insulating barrier that prevents air from leaking out. Additionally, the introduction of a desiccant (normally a hygroscopic substance that induces and sustains a dry atmosphere) into space between the two panes prevents condensation from forming and eliminates fogging.

Double glazing also doubles the amount of glass heat has to travel through thereby slowing down the movement of heat considerably. Although the air or gas contained in the space does not completely stop heat from being conducted from the inner pane to the outer one, it does reduce the rate of heat transfer through convection.

What are the Benefits of Double Glazed Windows?

There are many benefits to double glazed windows that are easily recognizable. Some of the most obvious are:

    Dramatically improves the thermal efficiency of a home;
    Reduces energy consumption by keeping the warmth in and the cold out and therefore an effective way of reducing monthly energy bills.
    Double glazing creates a more comfortable internal temperature that is easier to maintain, keeping residents cool in summer and warm in winter without spending a fortune on heating or cooling.
    Installing double glazing will have a positive effect on the environment. Reduced heating produces decreased carbon dioxide emissions which lead to a lowered carbon footprint.
    Double glazing will increase the capital value of your property when selling your home.
    The security of your property will be significantly heightened as it is much harder for intruders to penetrate double glazed windows.
    Eliminates condensation, draughts, and rattling commonly associated with single glazed windows;
    Helps to soundproof the interior of a home which is particularly beneficial in noisy suburbs or properties close to highways and airports.

Factors to Consider when Installing Double Glazed Windows

When installing or upgrading to new double glazing throughout your home there are several important factors to take into consideration. Some of these are best served when provided by professional and experienced double glazing installation experts. Below are a few things to pay attention to:

Type of Glass

As there are several different types of glass it is best to be guided by the glazing company that supplies the glass as to the best options for your home.

Type of Frame

Aesthetics can be as important as the technical role when it comes to window installation. The most common material used is uPVC as it is long lasting, recyclable, easy to maintain, and the most energy efficient type of frame for double glazed windows and come in a variety of finishes and colours.

While wooden frames are still popular they do need ongoing maintenance to keep them leak-proof and looking good but they are a greener option as a naturally renewable material.

An alternative to uPVC and wooden frames is aluminium frames which are also durable and easy to maintain.

The Window Energy Rating system (WER) rates windows according to energy efficiency from A+ (the highest grade) to G (the worst grade). All new window installations are required by building regulations to have a minimum rating of C. The higher the rating the more energy saving. For example, a B rating instead of a C would result in an approximate saving of 6.5% on energy bills and the cost of upgrading to a higher rating will add 15% to the cost per window. It may be worth considering the amount it will add to your quote to upgrade and whether it is worth it.

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