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Choosing the Right Double Glazing for your Home

The average home loses 20 percent of its heat through its windows.  Double glazing helps homeowners minimize heat loss by providing extra insulation.

Instead of using a single pane of glass like traditional windows, double glazing uses two panes of glass that are separated by a space filled with air or inert gas.  The space between the two panes acts as a barrier that keeps the heat in during the winter and the cool air in during the summer, resulting in energy efficient windows that help reduce heating and cooling costs.

Open double glazed casement window

Casement Windows are the most common style of double glazing in the UK

Not only are double glazed windows more efficient than single pane, they also act as a sound barrier by limiting the amount of external noise that enters a house and reduce condensation build-up.

For many years, double glazing was too expensive for the average homeowner, but new materials have made doubled glazed windows more affordable.  As the cost of energy continues to rise and the cost continues to fall, installing these in your home can be a good way to help keep your fuel costs down.

Before you decide which ones are best for you and your home, there are some things you should consider.


Double Glazing Styles

With so many different styles on the market, it can be tough to pick the one that best suits your needs.  Choosing the one that is right for your home will depend on the style of your home as well as your personal preference.  Some options you might consider include:

  • Casement Windows. These are the most common style seen in the UK today.  They have hinges on either the left or right side and are opened, closed and locked using a crank.
  • Top Hung Windows. The glass in this type is secured to the top of the frame by a hinge.  Top hung windows open from the bottom.  When open, the glass acts as a barrier to the elements, so you can leave these open during light rain without worrying about getting the interior of your home wet.
  • Sash Windows.  These open by moving them up and down.  A single sash window can be opened only by moving the bottom sash up.  Double sash windows give you the option of opening either the top or bottom sash.  These are more expensive than casement windows.
  • Georgian Windows.  Georgian bars are used to create square and rectangular patterns on this type.
  • Leaded Windows.  These are adorned with square, diamond or regular patterns formed by lead strips.
  • Tilt and Turn Windows.  This is the newest type to hit the UK market, and it is not very common.  A modern option, they turn in slightly from the bottom for everyday use.  For easy cleaning, they swing open from the side.


Window Frames

After you decide on a particular style, you will need to choose the type of frame you want.  In today’s market, the three most popular options are:

Aluminum  During the late 1970s, the introduction of aluminum frames made double glazing more affordable than it had been previously.  As a result, double glazing increased in popularity.  Aluminum frames are strong, durable and virtually maintenance-free.  However, the frames can lose heat rapidly.  Because of this and the introduction of newer materials, they are not as popular today as they once were.

uPVC  During the late 1980s and 1990s, a new material known as uPVC reduced the cost of double glazing even further.  An inexpensive, lightweight plastic, uPVC is easy to work with, easy to maintain, and it’s just as durable as aluminum, but it is a much better insulator.

However, there are some questions about the longevity of uPVC because of environmental concerns that some have about its use in the double glazing industry.  The manufacturing of uPVC frames requires a lot of energy, and it is not clear whether the amount of energy the windows save offsets the amount of energy required to create them.

In addition, the manufacturing of uPVC uses toxic chemicals that end up in the environment.  Furthermore, if a uPVC frame becomes damaged, it cannot be repaired; it can only be replaced.

Wood  An alternative to uPVC that is gaining popularity are wooden frames.  Until recently, wood was prohibitively more expensive than uPVC, so it was only used in high-end buildings.  However, as energy costs have increased, and the cost of wood has decreased, the gap between uPVC and wooden frames has narrowed.  But, wood is still the most expensive option.  Also, wooden frames are more susceptible to the weather than uPVC.  As a result, they require more maintenance, such as scraping and painting to keep them looking like new.


Getting the right appearance for your property

Church window being considered for double glazing

Consider your building's style when choosing double glazing!

When choosing replacement windows, it is important to choose a style and frame that will match the design of your home as well as your own personal style.  Make sure you consider a variety of styles, materials and colours.  Before making a decision, take a look at similar homes in your neighbourhood that have replacement windows.

Think about what you like and what you don’t like.  You’ll want to avoid the styles and designs you don’t like, but perhaps there is a way to adapt the styles and designs you do like to fit your own home.

The style and frame you choose is especially important if you live in a listed building or an older property.  These residences are subject to additional restrictions with respect to the type of changes that can be made to the property, and you will need to apply for permission with the local planning authority before beginning the installation.

If you live in one of these properties, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to replace your windows, but you will have to take special care to choose a style, colour and material that will maintain the historical and architectural integrity of your house.

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