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The Pros & Cons of Double-Pane Windows

by Andra Hopulele
4 min. read

With winter around the corner and temperatures dropping, you might be feeling the chill. Drafty windows can chill your home in minutes and are one of the major causes of heat loss over winter. Older, single-pane windows are often the main culprit and, if you have them in your home, you might be considering switching to double-pane windows, instead.

But, what are the benefits and disadvantages of double-pane windows? Are they really worth the investment? Read on to see both sides of the coin.

Pro: Energy-Efficiency

There’s no denying that double-pane windows are far more energy-efficient compared to single panes. With their insulation gap, they’re far more effective at protecting your home from the elements – keeping the warmth in and the cold air out in winter months. In summer, they aid in keeping a consistent temperature within your home by keeping the warmer air outside.

As a result, you don’t need to rely on your HVAC system as much to maintain the temperature. This has a direct influence on reducing your energy bills and lowering your carbon footprint. Installing double-pane windows also has the added benefit of closing any gaps that may have formed around the old windows, further improving the insulation properties of your home.

Con: All or Nothing

If you want to enjoy lower energy bills and improved energy efficiency, you’ll need to replace all of your single-pane windows with double panes. That’s because if you only replace one, air will continue to flow through the less-efficient, single-pane windows that remain. This can lead to a pretty hefty installation bill, as well.

Pro: Improved Comfort

With less unwanted airflow throughout your home, you’ll maintain a relatively steady temperature. This improves the comfort considerably and prevents you from having to bundle up in winter or strip down in summer. Additionally, issues such as dampness, mildew and mold can also be combated by installing double-pane windows, further improving air quality and comfort.

Con: High Costs

While double-pane windows can significantly reduce your monthly energy bills, the initial cost can be quite high – especially if you have to replace all of the windows in your home. In fact, the cost is far greater than fitting single-pane windows because you’re effectively paying for two sheets of glass, plus more complicated frames.

Specifically, costs average out to around $600-$850 per window, depending on size and quality. However, it’s worth considering how the lower energy bills and an increase in the value of your home can eventually offset the initial costs.

Pro: Improved Security

A single sheet of glass offers very little protection against intruders. Meanwhile, double-pane windows are much stronger. For added protection, opt for laminated or toughened glass.

Con: Not Suitable for Every Home

Some older, more traditional homes benefit from the charm that single-pane windows are able to provide. Moreover, replacing the original style with more modern, double-pane windows can detract from the original character of the home – and look entirely out of place. In some cases, this can actually lower the value of the home.

If you own a historical or traditional house, you do have options, though. Custom-made wooden, double-pane windows can be built to match almost any style. However, the cost will typically be quite high.

Pro: No Condensation Issues

Single-pane windows are prone to issues with condensation. This is because the glass can get cold and – when the moist, warm air hits it – condensation will appear, often covering the window in moisture. Besides looking bad, this can also lead to mold and other dampness issues. With double-pane windows, though, this is no longer an issue because the insulating layer prevents the colder, outer pane from coming into contact with the moisture in the warmer air indoors.

Con: Difficult to Repair

Double-pane windows are great as long as things are working properly. However, if they develop an issue with the air gap in between the panes of glass, you can soon have issues with condensation, insulation and heat loss. And, unfortunately, there isn’t really an effective way to fix this problem; in most cases, you’ll need to replace the window altogether, which can be costly.

Pro: Improved Sound-Proofing

With the improved insulation qualities of double-pane windows, you also benefit from reduced noise pollution from outside. Besides the usual neighborhood sounds of traffic, kids playing and more, you’ll also avoid the rattle that older, single-pane windows often develop when it’s windy or a train passes by. Double-pane windows enjoy a more solid construction, and your home will be quieter and more comfortable as a result.

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