Believe it or not, similar to fashion, Europe has long set trends for residential windows in the United States. If you’re in the market for new or replacement windows and want the latest and greatest, you may want to take a look at what window dealers in Europe are currently installing.
So what are some of the differences between American and European windows?
Increased Energy Efficiency
It’s important to know that there is a purpose and reason behind why Europe is ahead of the window game and America plays catch-up. One main difference is energy cost and consumption. From fuel to electricity, energy is much more expensive in Europe than in America. And for that reason, European homeowners usually ensure their homes are as energy efficient as possible.
Turn-tilt vs. Double-hung Window
While double-hung windows are standard in the US, turn-tilt windows, which can be 10-30 times more air-tight, are standard in Europe. Instead of sliding upwards to open, these windows either swing inward or outward from its vertical hinge, or tilt inward or outward on its horizontal hinge. Tilt-turn windows are also able to accommodate large glass surfaces, which can create a much cleaner look due to less framing.
Low-E vs. Triple-pane vs. Quadruple-pane Glass
Generally, the more panes of glass used, the better insulating properties a window will have. Double-pane windows are commonly found in American homes. These provide a single layer of climate and noise insulation between the outdoors and a home’s interior. Triple-pane windows offer two layers of insulation and quadruple-pane offers 3.
In addition to the number of layers, the chemical makeup of the glass itself can determine its energy efficiency. Low-E glass, which is glass with low levels of iron, helps reduce the amount of infrared heat absorbed from the sun and is often found in European windows. This means less heat inside your home on sunny days.
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Consider the Long-term
If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, you probably know that most of their buildings are generally much older than those in the United States. Part of this is due to the fact that residential construction is mostly brick or stone, rather than stick-built.
In Europe, home buyers work closely with architects and builders during the construction process to choose the best options, and longevity is often a factor. Americans have a different approach in which the contractor makes most of the decisions, and decisions are often based on cost, rather than quality. Therefore, less emphasis is put on how windows will perform over the lifespan of a home. This could mean increased energy costs to homeowners.
Not only do European windows have an energy efficiency advantage over American windows, they look trendier too. The tilt-turn windows literally offer a clear advantage over double-hung windows due to less framing interrupting views of the outside. Not only that, but drab white and tan frames aren’t the only options anymore. European manufacturers are making window frames in an array of colors to match any home and homeowner’s style.
Even hardware can play a part in the look of contemporary windows. The handles and locks can be powder coated to match the framing or left as a bare metal such as polished stainless or brushed nickel. Even these small details can make a big visual impact.
American Windows vs. European Windows
Which is Better?
Many buyers will still choose American window brands over European window brands. It is not necessarily that either one is better than the other. Both have their pros and cons. So when shopping for windows for your new home, or replacement windows for a renovation, it is important to consider certain elements. Think about your home’s aesthetics and style, how important energy savings is, and your budget.
If you’re going after a contemporary style- maybe large openings for extra light and an impactful look, or bold colors to add extra pop—these lean more towards European styling. If you like the traditional double-hung styling for a more colonial look, then you’ll probably lean towards American.
Due to supply and demand, this isn’t a huge factor for Americans, who benefit from lower energy costs than Europeans. But cost savings should be looked at over the life of the loan, which can add up substantially.
In most cases, decisions about the factors above will come down to one thing. Cost. Options and features like color powder coated finishes and sleek hardware will increase costs. So will energy saving costs like low-E glass or triple glazing.
But while fun colors might not give you a return on your investment, the latter energy-saving options may. Calculations can be made to estimate energy savings costs over the effective lifetime of a window. From here you can determine the actual cost of the unit by subtracting the savings from the upfront cost. Given substantial enough savings, you may even reach a break-even point, or come out ahead. This can be especially true in cold climates where trapping in every degree of heat is crucial.
Can I Buy European Windows in America?
Just because a window is made by a European company doesn’t mean that it can’t be obtained in America. There are many European manufacturers who deal in the U.S. market with no shortage of options. As trends develop and demand grows, the options are sure to increase.
Where Can I Buy European Windows?
If you do in fact choose European windows for your next project, whether it be for styling or energy efficiency reasons, you can generally find these windows through window dealers the same way you would find American windows. There may even be some dealers in your area who stock both American and European brands. Visiting a dealer showroom is a great way to get an in-person hands-on look at the different options available.
If you’re ready to take the next step in choosing windows for your home, use Glass.com’s window dealer locator to find a reputable dealer in your area. We’ll make sure you get in touch with a company who is able to service your needs quickly.