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Single Pane vs. Double Pane Windows


February 28, 2020

Dormer windows

When you’re looking to replace your windows or if you’re building a home and starting from scratch, you may want to consider double pane as opposed to single pane windows. Double pane windows not only insulate against the weather to improve your energy efficiency, but they also insulate against noise, which may be important to you depending on where you live.

What Are Double Pane Windows?

Double pane windows are exactly what they sound like: two panes of glass instead of one. A single pane window will have one sheet of glass in a window frame, but double pane windows have two sheets with space between them. Generally, that space is filled with insulating argon gas, dramatically improving the insulation quality of your windows. Also, a Low E coating, which isn’t visible to the naked eye, is applied to the glass for further insulation.

How to Tell if a Window is Single or Double Paned

Most of the time, you can tell how many panes of glass are in your windows just by looking. If it’s not immediately obvious, though, take a closer look at the edge of the window. Double pane windows will have a spacing system between the two panes. If you don’t see a spacing system, you’re likely looking at a single pane.

If you’re still not sure, you can do a touch test. Put one finger on one side of the window and another on the other. Do your fingers look far apart? If so, it’s probably a double pane window. If your fingers look like they’re touching or very close to it, then you have a single pane of glass.

Benefits of Double Pane Windows

Double pane windows significantly reduce your energy use (and costs), particularly in the winter, when you can see significant energy savings, depending on your specific windows and technologies. This is assuming your entire home uses double pane windows—you can’t replace one or two and expect to see energy savings.

Better insulation against noise is another benefit for homeowners who live in the city or near a highway or anywhere else they want to maintain some peaceful silence.

Will Insulated Sashes Help with Energy Efficiency?

Yes. Because sash windows have so many separate parts (and, even as a whole, a window sash is not the entire window), they’re more prone to leaks. Insulated sashes and frames help prevent those leaks and increase the energy efficiency in your home. Today’s insulated frames and sashes use small cells rather than large hollow areas within the frame to lessen undesired heat transfer. With good moisture resistance and no maintenance required, an insulated sash or frame is a good way to increase your energy efficiency.

How Long Do Double Pane Windows Last?

You can expect double pane windows to last 8-20 years, which is right in line with standard aluminum windows. Double pane windows cost quite a bit more than single panes, with the intent to mitigate those costs by saving money on energy bills. With that:

Are Double Pane Windows Worth the Cost?

Top-of-the-line double pane windows can cost up to $850 per window, and as we said earlier, you can’t just buy one or two. You need to outfit the entire house, so the up front cost will be significantly higher than single panes (a high-end aluminum single pane window, for example, will cost around $250).

The up-front cost of double pane windows can sting, but if you can cut your energy bills in half, you’re making back your initial investment in lower energy bills right away. In many cases, you’ll have made up the difference in just a few years.

Of course, we’re speaking in generalities here. Whether or not the additional up-front cost is worth it to you will depend on your actual needs, current expenses and how much you value long-term savings over short-term savings. If you’re interested, we can help with that.

Contact us today at 616-846-1536 to speak with one of our window experts to find out if single or double pane windows are right for you.