How do Double Pane Windows Work? An FAQ Homeowner’s Guide

how do double pane windows workI’ll never forget the rickety old apartment in Midtown my wife and I moved into after we got married. It was our first home together, so it will always hold a special place in my big old heart but boy oh boy, did it have its shortcomings. There was never any hot water in the bathroom sink, the walls were paper-thin, and two elements on the stove never seemed to work. While all of that was pretty annoying, the windows were what really got my goat about that place. Their flimsy single panes were the bane of my existence.

Knowing what I do now about windows, it makes total sense that it was impossible to regulate the temperature in our apartment, that my allergies were worse than ever for the first two years we lived there, and that the noise from the street always sounded as though it was right inside our home. When the building manager finally had the old windows replaced with double pane ones, we were ecstatic.

Since then, I’ve been pretty passionate about double pane windows—and now it’s my job to install them in people’s homes. Inevitably, there is one question about double pane windows that almost every homeowner asks, which is how do double pane windows work? So, I’m going to explain how double pane windows work in a number of ways to keep your home comfortable, quiet, and healthy.

What Are Double Pane Windows?

double windows are energy efficientI won’t lie, when my wife and I first moved into that old apartment I didn’t have a clue what double pane windows were. But now that I’m a window expert, I have no problem explaining what double pane windows are to all the interested homeowners I meet with each week.

As the name suggests, double pane windows are made up of two panes of glass, either tempered or laminated, held in a single frame. But rather than sitting tight against one another, the panes are separated. This cavity between them, which is created by spacers, is either a sealed vacuum or is filled with a non-toxic gas like argon. The size of this cavity depends on the crafting of the window but typically ranges from a quarter to three-quarters of an inch thick.

Dual pane, double glazing, and insulating glass are also common names for double pane windows, so don’t be confused by these terms. All of them have the same construction of an insulating cavity sandwiched between two panes.

How Double Pane Windows Work to Regulate Home Temperature

One of the most immediately obvious benefits of having your old single panes replaced with double pane windows is temperature regulation. When my wife and I finally had our windows replaced, we could not get over the difference. We were used to wearing several layers of clothing in the winter and living in front of the fan during the summer months, so being comfortable in our home year round was something totally new to us.

While you may think that having two panes of glass is more effective at keeping out the winter chill or heat of the summer, the cavity between the two panes is actually responsible for this. This vacuum or gas-filled space actually slows the transfer of heat, keeping the warm air out in the summer months and preventing it from escaping in the chilly winter.

…if they’re properly installed by a local expert, double pane windows could save you as much as $340 a year.

Not only will you be much more comfortable in your home with double pane windows, you’ll notice a big difference in your energy bill. In fact, if they’re properly installed by a local expert, double pane windows could save you as much as $340 a year. When warm air transfers easily through single pane windows, your HVAC system has to work much harder in order to maintain a consistent temperature in your home. When air doesn’t transfer or transfers much more slowly, you’ll use a lot less energy to heat and cool your home, resulting in big savings.

How Double Pane Windows Help Keep Homes Healthy

Of course, heat isn’t the only thing that transfers through thin, single pane glass. Airborne particles, such as allergens, do as well. Double pane windows provide an extra barrier against pollen, though, helping to prevent it from infiltrating your home.

Double pane windows provide an extra barrier against pollen…

If you live in Sacramento County, you know just how high our pollen counts can get. While many people accept stuffy noses, watery eyes, and sneezing as an inevitable reaction to the area’s allergens, I believe that you shouldn’t be suffering from these symptoms inside your home.

While helping to keep allergens out of your home is one way double pane windows keep your home healthy, they can also effectively block out harmful ultraviolet rays, especially if they have special UV coatings. Not only will they protect you, your pets, and your kids, it will help prevent fading of curtains, furniture, and carpeting.

Why Double Pane Windows Make for a Soundproof Home

As if better temperature regulation and keeping your home free of allergens and UV light weren’t enough, double pane windows also make your home a quieter and more peaceful place to relax. Compared to their single pane counterparts, double pane windows can reduce outside noise by as much as 43%. And in a noisy city like Sacramento, this makes a huge difference.

Compared to their single pane counterparts, double pane windows can reduce outside noise by as much as 43%.

You’ll want to keep in mind that the noise-reducing power of your windows will depend on the type of glass (laminated is better for sound reduction) and the thickness of the cavity between the two panes that effectively cushions sound. You’ll also want to check the sound transmission class (STC) rating on your windows and choose ones with 40 and 43 if you live in a noisy area.

Remember, though, that even the best double pane windows won’t make your home quieter or more efficient unless they’ve been properly installed. The smallest gap between your window and wall or the tiniest crack in the seal between the two panes can dramatically reduce a window’s ability to insulate, keep out allergens, and reduce noise transmission. Hiring an experienced window expert for a professional installation will ensure that you can truly reap the many wonderful benefits of your new double pane windows.

I still find it hard to believe just how much of a difference my wife and I felt when we had our single pane windows replaced in that old apartment. And I can honestly say that the new level of comfort, air quality, and quiet we experienced from the windows really helped turn that rickety old place into a home we grew to love.

At Bell Brothers, we believe in the whole home approach to energy efficiency, safety, and health. Our trained window experts would not only be happy to install double pane windows in your home, we’d love to make sure your HVAC is working efficiently as well so that your home stays comfortable, healthy, and quiet all year long. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Wondering how to finance those new double pane, energy saving windows? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.

Image courtesy Pixabay user irina_kukuts