Switching to Energy Efficient Windows

All homes lose energy through their windows but by getting energy efficient windows you’ll conserve heat energy and keep your fuel bills lower in the process. On average, we lose a third of our home’s heat energy through windows and doors every year. That’s quite a loss to contend with!

Many of us consider double or triple glazing to better insulate our homes but there are other things to consider, like the specific glass, frame materials and type of pane spacers. Choose wisely and you could save £170 a year just by doubling up on your glazing.

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How to get energy efficient windows

Double versus triple glazing

Double glazed windows have two sheets of glass with a gap separating them. The gap creates a barrier to keep the heat inside and depending on the type of glazing, it can contain the harmless and naturally present argon, xenon or krypton gas. The gases are used to stop the movement of air between the panes. Triple glazed windows work in the same way – there’s just another pane of glass to up the insulation.

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While triple glazing is hailed as the most energy efficient windows, you should bear in mind that it’s only worth investing in it if you’re going to see a big difference in your bills and the temperature of your home. If you live in a very noisy area, there’s no doubt that you’ll benefit, but otherwise, the 30-50% increase on the double glazing cost, might not be worth the investment.

Choosing frames

Frame your glazing with a choice of one of five frames – uPVC, wood, aluminium, steel or composite (a timber frame covered with aluminium or plastic). Wooden frames are very environmentally friendly and insulate well but they require regular dusting and washing with warm soapy water, plus a repaint at least once every two years. uPVC, Aluminium and steel are recyclable, durable and waterproof yet poor insulators in comparison. Composite will give you a waterproof structure that reaps the benefits of using a wooden product underneath.

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Check your glass

The most energy efficient window glass is low emissivity (what specialists call Low-E). The glazing has a coating of metal oxide on an inner pane to allow light and heat to enter but not to exit. The pane spacers separating the two panes of glass should be ‘warm’ –  in other words, contain no metal or very little, to be as efficient as possible.

Double glazing exceptions

If you have a period property, live in a conservation area or a listed building, you’ll need to check with your local planning department that it’s okay to go ahead and upgrade your windows. Once you’ve got the green light, be sure to check the energy performance of any double (or triple!) glazing product. There’s a universal scheme run by the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC) which will make the whole process easier, and the most efficient windows may also have a sticker with the Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo.

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To find a window specialist to upgrade your windows, post your job and up to three window specialists will get in touch to quote. You’ll be able to view their customer recommendations and ratings to help you decide who to hire. Before hiring, don’t forget to enquire about their qualifications. If your tradesman is registered with a Competent Person scheme, he/she will produce certification that your windows comply with the current building regulations. This isn’t a legal requirement or a strict indication of ability but you will need to apply for building control approval before your tradesman starts work, if he/she isn’t registered.

For more information, visit the Competent Person and Planning Portal websites.  

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