Window insulation and double glazing: professional or handyman?
If your windows are single-glazed, you are likely to lose 10-20% of your home’s heat through them.
Windows and doors are a big part of heat loss, so any steps you can take to prevent this from happening are worth considering and will help you save on your energy bills.
Read this guide for essential information on window insulation and double glazing.
How much heat is lost through windows?
If your windows are single-glazed, you could lose up to 20% of your home’s overall heat through them. Windows and doors are a big part of heat loss, so any steps you can take to prevent this from happening are worth saving on your energy bills.
What can I do to prevent heat loss from the windows?
One obvious measure is to replace windows and doors, including frames, with double or triple glazing. This reduces heat loss through windows and also solves draft problems. It can get very expensive though, especially if you go for uPVC frames. The cost of double glazing can run up to several thousand dollars and it will take decades to recover it while saving on your bills. There are other advantages, however, such as the fact that PVC window frames do not need to be painted, which saves on maintenance costs.
How does double glazing work?
Double glazing saves heat, as its name suggests, by having two panes of approximately 16 millimeters apart. It works best if there is a vacuum between the panes, or if some manufacturers use a special gas instead, often argon. This is known as a sealed unit. Having a deeper, accessible cavity down to 100mm or more can sometimes be an option – the larger space protects against outside noise such as airplanes and traffic, and some vendors offer sealed units with triple glazing.
What types of window frames are available?
In the past, window frames were generally made of metal, but nowadays the choice is usually between softwood, hardwood and uPVC. PVC or plastic windows usually contain steel for added strength. There are also composite windows, although these are not as popular as composite doors. Composite windows and doors consist of an interior, which is usually made of wood; this is covered with a protective layer similar to uPVC to protect it from the elements. This is a low maintenance option as it does not need painting, but has a grain effect, which gives it the appearance of wood, rather than the simple flat finish of uPVC. . It is generally available in a variety of colors.
Does the energy efficiency rating apply to windows?
There is an A to G energy efficiency rating system that applies specifically to windows, look for the BFRC energy efficiency label and be sure to use an authorized dealer. However, it should be remembered that some PVC doors and window frames are no more energy efficient than wooden ones, and the inefficiency of old windows and doors has as much to do with glazing and drafts – glass panels are made of. If you want to have completely new window frames, consider triple glazing or double glazing with low emissivity (Low-E). It is a glass with a special coating which allows a better thermal performance than that of normal glass.
Should I change the size of the opening sashes of my windows?
As mentioned earlier, replacing your windows can be an expensive endeavor. Double glazing prices and installation costs can easily cost you thousands of dollars. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cut costs by reducing the number of opening leaves or specifying fewer and larger opening leaves. This will create security and ventilation issues.
Larger opening leaves make it more difficult to have a sufficiently low level of ventilation, and if they are accidentally left open, they create more safety risk. Having said that, it’s a good idea to have at least one larger clapper in each room, as this can be used as an escape route in an emergency.
How do I know if my double glazing is working?
Occasionally, sealed units can fail and will need to be replaced. You can usually tell when there is a problem as condensation or droplets will appear between the two panes. Most suppliers offer a warranty – usually 10 years – and will replace windows free of charge if they break down during the warranty period.
Will I be able to install double glazing if I live in a conservation area?
If you live in a conservation area or listed building, it is best to discuss your plans with your local conservation or planning officer, as there are restrictions which may vary from area to area. However, replacement PVC windows are generally not allowed.
You may be able to replace your existing glass pieces with sealed units, if your frames can accommodate them. Thin units are now available and can be used in many original window frames without the need for replacement. These can be as small as 12mm overall thickness with a gas filled cavity and a 5mm peripheral seal designed to fit Georgian style windows to keep the glazing bars visually thin. A traditional glazier should be able to supply and adapt them.
Secondary double glazing is another option, and one that is often overlooked. It is also a potential DIY option and a solid option for use in conservation areas, as well as in places that suffer from noise pollution, such as under an airplane flight path or near a main road. . The basic concept is to put in place a second wall of glazing on the interior side of the existing glazing. Some systems are designed so that you can remove them during the summer months, for example the secondary double glazing which is held in place with velcro or magnetic fasteners.
Is double glazing my only option to avoid heat loss?
Double glazing is only an option. There are alternatives and some are cheaper. For many options, the services of a carpenter or handyman may be required, but to save money many can be done as DIY solutions. Read on for a few options.
What about temporary “glazing” in winter?
Putting one of the temporary but specially designed clear films – a polymer membrane – on your windows is one way to create a very inexpensive form of double glazing. Alternatively, products like Ecoease secondary glazing attach to your windows with powerful magnetic strips, so you can remove them when the weather warms up. Usually you don’t need a lot of tools to do this, although a hair dryer is usually a part of it – this creates heat to shrink the film until it is taut and smooth. . You will also need double-sided tape – which is normally supplied with the product – to adhere the film to the inner side of the window frame.
How about keeping cool in the summer?
Insulation isn’t just about keeping your home warm when it’s cold outside, it’s also about keeping it cool when it’s hot outside. Exterior shutters are rare in the UK, but popular in France and other countries in southern Europe. These provide additional safety and protect against overheating in summer.