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Glass for Your Windows – How to Choose?

Windows are one of the most important features of a home, both in terms of overall appearance and resale value. Glazed doors and windows can leak energy if they are not well chosen and installed correctly. With the cost of energy, it’s a smart move to utilize high-performance glazing.

Many companies, such as Milgard and Andersen offer ready-to-install windows and doors that come with different glass options. But what if you’re replacing glass in existing window or door frames? How do you know which kind of glass to choose?

According to Home Tips, two important ratings to check are the R-Values and U-Values.

R-Value: Thermal resistance – the ability of a material to resist heat flow – is measured by an R-value. The higher the R-value, the more the material resists the movement of heat. For example, a single-glazed window offers an insulating value of about R-1; a dual-glazed model provides twice the value at R-2. The type of glass is the most important factor when it comes to R-values.

U-value applies the factor of time to the heat-loss measurement. U-values measure heat that escapes per hour through the window. Windows typically have two U-values: one for the glass and one for the entire window, including the frame. The lower the U-value, the more energy-efficient the window.

Another option to consider is Low-E (low emissivity) glass. This type of glass offers improved energy efficiency and is appropriate for all climates. It helps reduce the passage of radiant heat.

Dual pane glass is also recommended for reducing the flow of heat.

There are new technologies for making glass more efficient. Some of these options are discussed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website, in the Consumer’s Guide section. For example:

  • Gas fills, such as argon and krypton, between panes of glass.
  • Heat-absorbing, tinted window glazing contains special tints that change the color of the glass. Tinted glass absorbs a large fraction of the incoming solar radiation through a window.
  • Reflective window glazing is commonly used in hot climates where solar heat gain control is critical. However, the reduced cooling energy demands they achieve can be offset by the resulting need for additional electrical lighting, so reflective glass is mostly used just for special applications.

As with so many aspects of remodeling, it’s wise to consult with a contractor who specializes in the type of job you want to do. The intelligent recommendations of a knowledgeable glazier can save you time now and money ongoing, due to lower energy costs for years to come.

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