How Low-E Glass Windows Can Save You Money

September 27, 2021

If a window is a window and they are all the same, buying new replacement windows would be easy. But since not all windows are created equal, a discerning homeowner should be fully aware of her options before entering into a contract.

As a consumer seeking the right product for the right price, you must first make crucial frame and glass decisions before buying any fenestration (window and door) products. Selecting the right combination for your new windows and doors can significantly impact the return for your window and door investment over time. When considering purchasing new windows, the least expensive products are rarely the ideal choice for most people.

The truth is, you can spend a lot of money on replacement windows no matter what you buy. But if the windows you choose aren’t the right ones for your needs, they may not provide the results you seek. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not spending enough because the wrong choice will cost you in the long term, and you will have wasted your money. The best way to shop for windows is to ask questions and compare investment value. Don’t just look for the cheapest deal you can get. For example, suppose you want to keep your Florida home cooler and more comfortable year-round. In that case, it’s wise to consider some upgrades. Here’s why.

Windows can lose energy in three ways. These are through:

1) Infiltration,
2) Infrared radiation (IR), and
3) Conduction.

Infiltration means drafts or air leaks. Virtually all new windows made today have adequate weather stripping and will keep infiltration in check.

Infrared radiation brings with it heat. IR comes from direct and indirect (reflected) sunlight.

Conductive temperature transfer occurs whenever there is a dramatic difference between interior and exterior temperatures.

Untreated single-pane, clear glass is ineffective against controlling heat, and both infrared radiation and conductive heat can enter your home no matter how thick clear glass is. This means hurricane-resistant windows will protect you against severe storms and intruders, but not against Mr. Sunshine! Clear impact-rated laminated impact glass is equally ineffective against the latter two, as well.

This is why millions of homeowners nationwide, and hundreds of our customers here in South Florida, have experienced firsthand the advantages that Low-E glass can offer. The primary benefits are that Low-e improves overall comfort and saves you money on your energy bill, month after month, year after year. Because we’re in Florida, most replacement glass units we use include Low-E glass of some type (there are a few).

So what is Low-E glass, and how does it work?

Low emissivity or ‘Low-E glass has a practically invisible coating applied to it. This microscopic metallic coating is spectrally selective and reflects ultraviolet light (responsible for sun bleaching) and infrared light (responsible for heat) from entering your home through your windows. This coating allows you to open your blinds and enjoy natural light without worrying about solar heat gain. If you are a South Florida resident, you want that!

Some modern replacement windows also utilize insulated glass instead of single panes of glass. Panes of glass are combined using a space in between that is well-sealed to keep out dust and moisture. Many different spacers are available that separate the two panes of glass to create a thermal break that curbs conductive heat. Even with these seals, some methods and materials are better than others, affecting the price.

A non-conductive spacer is the best type for efficiency because it also eliminates any conduction around the edge of the glass. Argon gas is the most common fill option because it improves the insulating ability of an insulated glass “unit.” With argon, the window’s performance is another 10% more efficient over air alone. When dealing with argon between the glass panes, however, the type of spacer is more crucial. At Garabar, we use spacer systems that provide a double seal and features a continuous non-permeable mylar backing that prevents the argon gas from seeping out.

Types of Low-E, Hard-coat vs. Soft-coat

Here at Garabar, we primarily use glass with a “soft-coat” Low-E. In an insulated unit, Low-E is applied to the inside of the outer glass panel. Between the pane and interlayer is where the Low-E goes in laminated glass. Soft-coat (vs. hard-coat) Low-E is proven to be the most effective way to control infrared radiation.

There are some terms you should be familiar with when shopping for energy-efficient windows.

U-Value. A measure of efficiency. A lower number means the glass is more efficient.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. A measure of the heat added to your home from natural sunlight. A low SHGC number means you will gain less heat.

UV Transmittance. Ultraviolet light (UV) is what will fade your carpet, drapes, and furniture. The lower the transmittance percentage, the less UV light will get through the glass and into your home.

Choosing the correct type of glass depends on factors such as:

  1. The direction a window is facing.
  2. Whether your home has a problem with heat gain or loss.
  3. Various local building codes.

The professional window and door consultants at Garabar are here to help you. Please schedule an appointment or call us at (561) 290-2212 today.