single pane or double pane windows

A lot of your home energy usage is lost through your windows. When looking to save on energy costs the quality and type of windows you have installed matters. Gaining a better understanding of your home’s windows can also give you a better understanding of your energy usage. One of the main things to look at is how many layers of glass a window has because it is one of the biggest factors between different types of windows. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of double pane and single pane windows to help you decide what is best for your home. 

What Is a Single Pane Window?

Just as the name suggests, single pane windows are made of a single pane of glass. Single pane windows are available in the same materials and styles as other window types, but their single pane of glass construction makes them less durable and less insular. 

What Is a Double Pane Window?

It is logical that if single pane windows consist of a single pane of glass, then double pane, or dual glazed windows are made from two layers of glass. This dual glass serves to add extra insulation and durability to double pane windows over single glass windows. The insulation properties are also enhanced by a layer of argon gas that is inserted between the two layers of glass. This insulating gas creates a barrier that stalls heat transfer through the window. 

Single Pane Windows: The Pros and Cons

Deciding between double pane and single pane windows is easier if you can weigh the pros and cons of each. Let’s start this comparison by taking a look at the pros and cons of single pane windows first.

Single Pane Window Pros

Comparably Less Expensive

The biggest pro of single pane or single layer windows is that they have less upfront costs than double layer windows. This makes them an attractive choice when working within a tight budget. It also makes them a reasonable choice for your property’s outer buildings, such as garages and sheds, which do not require windows with as much insulation or durability.

Lightweight Construction

Single pane windows have a much lighter construction than other windows since they are composed of only one layer of glass. A single frame window is slimmer as well, which adds up to a lighter window that is easier to install. 

Easy Installation

The easier installation of single pane windows also adds to them being less expensive to install when calculating labor costs. Easier often means less time, which equals less money. This is true with the installation costs of single pane windows

Single Pane Window Cons

On the other hand, single pane windows do come with a list of cons that should not be overlooked. 

Poor Insulation

Insulation, in general, is designed to help regulate inside temperatures. Single pane windows do not give a lot of support in this regard and receive a poor grade when comparing their insulation properties to multi-layered windows. The single layer of glass does not offer as much protection from outside air seeping into the interior of your home or inside air seeping out.

Due to this poor insulation, it is logical to ask, can single pane windows be energy efficient? The simple answer is that single pane windows are more energy efficient than no windows, of course, but they are not as energy efficient as multiple layered glass windows. Studies conducted by the Department of Energy have shown that the average energy bill of an average household can have an annual reduction of about $500 by replacing single pane windows with double pane windows. 

Poor Noise Reduction

The properties of single pane windows that gives them a poor grade on insulation also gives them a poor grade on canceling out exterior noise. If outside air can seep into a home via single pane windows, then it is reasonable that noise can seep in as well. Single pane windows that are less than one-quarter of an inch thick are considerably ineffectual at reducing outside noise from entering your home. 

Poor Durability

The lightweight construction of single pane windows that makes them easier and cheaper to install, also makes them less durable than double pane windows. This can be especially important in areas with extreme weather conditions, such as harsh cold and severe storms. 

Benefits of Single Pane Windows Vs. Lower Cost

Single pane window benefits are mostly felt with the lower up-front costs, including both the price of the window and less labor and installation costs, as mentioned. This benefit can be outweighed, however, over the long term as it also means higher energy bills. Over your window’s lifetime, the cost of a single pane window can be much higher than the lower initial cost would suggest. This lower cost benefit however makes single pane windows ideal for structures that do not require energy efficiency, such as garages, sheds, and outer storage buildings. 

Double-pane Windows Pros and Cons

Sometimes called a double frame window, among other names, double-pane windows also come with both pros and cons.  

Double Pane Window Pros 

Increased Insulation

A double frame window provides a better seal for the window opening than a single frame window. Less outdoor air seeps in and less indoor air seeps out. This contributes to what insulation is meant for: a consistent regulation of inside temperatures without an increase in energy output. 

Better Noise Reduction

Just as double pane windows increase the insulation in your home by keeping outside air from leaking in, they also help keep outside noise from leaking in too. According to multiple studies, double pane windows can cut down outside noise pollution anywhere between 25 to 50 percent compared to single pane windows. Overall, double pane windows create a better barrier between the outside and inside of your home.

Durability and Extreme Weather

The thicker and multi-layered construction of double pane windows make them a more durable option than single pane windows. This durability makes double pane windows last longer than single pane windows. This is especially true when exposed to extreme weather, such as freezing cold temperatures, severe storms, high winds, or heavy snow. Their construction offers better protection from severe weather, but they are also able to last longer under those extreme conditions. 

Energy Efficiency Savings

The better insulation of double pane windows has a direct influence on the costs to cool and heat your home. The ability of double pane windows to maintain indoor temperatures means there is less reliance on your HVAC system to do the same. This reduces both your carbon footprint and your home energy bills. 

Double Pane Window Cons 

Comparably More Expensive

Plain and simple, double pane windows come with a much larger upfront price tag than single pane windows. Depending on the size, the average cost of a double pane window can be almost double the cost of a single pane window. This is not insignificant and installing double pane windows needs to be seen more as an investment in your home, than simply replacing a window. 

The All or Nothing Clause

To receive the full benefit of installing double pane windows, especially when it comes to energy costs, it is significantly better to install double pane windows throughout your home. Replacing only one window or even half, means that some of your windows are not as well insulated as others. This creates only half the energy saving benefits that double pane windows provide. 

Benefits of Double Pane Windows Vs. the Extra Cost

Double pane window benefits include greater energy efficiency properties associated with insulation. If double pane windows are better at keeping outside air from entering your home than they are also good at keeping warmer or cooler inside air from escaping your home through the windows. This makes the windows better at regulating inside temperatures, which in turn makes the energy costs of heating or cooling your home more regulated as well. This makes the higher up-front costs of double pane windows more of an investment over time than one of diminishing returns.

If you live in a noisy environment, the increased noise reduction of double pane windows can be a great benefit that can increase the quality of your life. With 30 million Americans, according to National Geographic studies, exposed to noise pollution above healthy levels, which can contribute to stress, hearing loss, and other ill health effects, this benefit of double pane windows cannot be overlooked.

If you live in an area that experiences extreme weather, be it very high temperatures that require inside air conditioning or very low temperatures that require well-used indoor heating, then the benefit of double pane windows can be easily felt. Both in the quality of your life and in the price of your home energy use. 

A Single-Pane vs Double-Pane Window: The Conclusion

Looking at all the pros and cons of single pane vs double pane windows can often come down to what type of benefits you want from the different window pane options available for your home. As a home improvement investment, double pane windows are no doubt a better energy efficient option than single pane windows and one that pays dividends in lower energy costs over time.

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