The Case of the Best Insulating Window


Question regarding the best replacement windows for energy efficiency and noise reduction:

 

Hello Glass Detective,

I am trying to figure out the best option to replace my windows throughout the house. I am looking for both energy efficiency and noise reduction. I can go with:

-triple pane with Krypton gas for a bit of noise reduction
-double pane for energy efficiency
-double pane with Krypton gas and lamination instead of the 3rd pane for noise reduction

What will be better? And if I add the lamination to the low e double panes, will the lamination affect the energy efficiency of the low-e panes?

Thank you,

Rocio L.

 

Answer to question regarding the best window replacement option  for energy efficiency and noise reduction:

 

Dear Rocio,

Thank you for contacting the Glass Detective with your request to assist you in selecting windows for your home.  You stated that energy efficiency and noise reduction were your priorities.  You then mention some alternatives that you are apparently aware of that would help you achieve energy efficiency and sound reduction.  In response to your questions, and in consideration of what you may apparently already know or believe, I am going to render my personal opinion as to what I would do if I were you.  I’m also going to put a couple of qualifying statements on this response, but I think you will understand where I’m coming from when you read the entire commentary.

A little over 24 years ago, I built my own home and acted as the general contractor.  At the time, I was deeply involved in the glass business and spent a fair amount of time reviewing performance data and pricing for the various products that I thought would work for me.  Approximately three years ago, I sold that home and those 24-year old windows were performing as well as they did on day one and showed no signs of aging.  I’ve also been fortunate enough to work on hundreds of window projects during my 47 years in the industry.  With this in mind, I think the following statements may prove beneficial to you.

    1. You get what you pay for. This is as true in the window business as it is in any other commercial endeavor.  In my part of the country there is always some window supplier offering free installation, or every other window is free, or similar promotions.

 

    1. Brand name windows are sometimes a little overpriced because you are paying for a name and not necessarily the product you are receiving.

 

  1. Regardless of the above statements, in my opinion you are always going to be better off buying a name brand, fully warrantied product. Window manufacturers come and go.  There is a reason that some of the well-known window manufacturers have been in business many years and enjoy a stellar reputation.

 

Specific answers to your questions are as follows

 

    1. I would choose (and did choose for my own residence) an aluminum clad wood window. The aluminum cladding is on the exterior side of the window.  This arrangement gives you good thermal performance out of the framing system and the aluminum exterior is durable and attractive.

 

    1. While you do not tell me the orientation of the majority of your windows in regards to the sun, I don’t believe any of the gas-filled options for insulated units have an effective enough “pay back” to be considered.

 

    1. A triple-pane insulating glass unit is a viable option to consider. Spend your money here and not on any gas filling if you are looking for maximum energy efficiency.

 

    1. You definitely want a Low-E coating on the inboard side of the most exterior lite of glass. In the trade, this is known as a second surface coating.

 

  1. Based on the information provided and the concerns you raise, I want to encourage you to consider a laminated glass inner lite whether you go with a double or triple unit. The laminated product provides a number of benefits including (a) sound reduction, (b) almost total elimination of any UV light, (c) safety, in that if the lite does get broken it will tend to stay together and not break into shards like ordinary glass that can cause injuries, (d) laminated glass is much harder to break through in the case of an intruder wanting to get through your window.

 

I don’t know the sizes or locations of the windows that you will be putting into your home, but I believe the above recommendations are appropriate given the information provided.  If cost is not an issue, the triple pane unit with the Low-E coating mentioned above and an interior lite of laminated glass should give you outstanding performance.  The above may be argued by certain other pundits and other industry experts, but if I were building my house today, it’s what I’d use.  Use a reputable window dealer who has been in business for a considerable time.  Feel free to share this memo with them.  I truly hope this proves to be of some value to you.

I thank you for contacting the Glass Detective.

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One response to “The Case of the Best Insulating Window”

  1. Thank you! It does help. I did forget another option for noise reduction, and it is the mismatch glazing. Meaning double pane with one glass thicker than the other one. There is a company I like but they don’t offer lamination of windows, at least not for Colorado. They told me that the mismatched double pain window works better for noise reduction, but not as great for energy efficiency. So if the best option for noise reduction and energy efficiency (triple pain with low e and lamination) is not an option, seems that between double mismatched window panes and triple panes, the best will be triple pane then right? Both options will have low e. Thank you.

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