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Choosing the Right Glass for Your Home

June 30 2008

It’s important to pick glass that lets in plenty of light while keeping out damaging UV rays (which fade your furniture and rugs). If it’s time to put new windows on your home (a great feature for resale), consider the following when choosing materials and style.

Choosing glass for your home

Single pane 

Traditional single-pane glass might work for “fixed” windows (i.e. windows that can’t be opened). In general, however, single-pane windows aren’t very good at protecting your house from extremes of heat or cold. If you’ve got single-pane windows in your home, think about upgrading as soon as possible.

Insulated Glass

Insulated, or double-pane windows feature two panes of glass separated by an air space. The air space boosts insulation by lowering the rate of heat flow between the inside and outside of your house. Insulated windows do a better job blocking noise and wind than their single-pane counterparts. If you’re living in a really cold climate area, triple-pane windows might be a good option. There is even such a thing as quadruple pane windows, which consist of a pair of dual paned windows set back to back. Needless to say, quadruple pane windows are excellent at keeping out cold and deadening outside noise.

It’s a gas

For extra insulation, the air space between double panes can be filled and factory sealed with argon or krypton gas. These gases are lousy thermal conductors—meaning, they slow the transfer of heat through the window. In summer, cool air will linger in your home. In winter, the windows will help keep the cold out.

The E factor

Low emissive (low-e) window coatings are recommended for cold climates. Low-e coated glass features a see-through layer of metal or metallic oxide. The coating prevents heat from escaping your house—a nice option during the depths of winter. A tinted window will also retain heat inside your house, but at the price of blocking light. Low-e glass, on the other hand, lets in lots of light while keeping out UV rays.

Another reason to upgrade

Even if you don’t care about paying high heating and cooling bills, there is another reason why it’s a good idea to upgrade the glass in your windows. Putting in energy-efficient windows will boost your home’s resale value, an important consideration if you want to sell your house in the near term. Talk to your Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate sales associate before deciding which option is best for your home.


If window jargon confuses you, don’t worry; you’re in great company. Windows sold in stores often come with labels testifying to their energy-efficiency. The National Fenestration Rating Council, for example, judges windows on insulation value, how much light they let in and how effectively they block solar heat. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) applies Energy Star stickers on windows that have met minimum insulation standards for the climate the window is sold in.

In short, if you want to save money heating your house in winter and cooling it in summer, take a close look at the glass in your windows.