The Lowdown on Low-E Glass for Homeowners

The Lowdown on Low-E Glass for Homeowners

September 16, 2017
Martin Whitmore, President of US Window & Door
Raindrops on Windows

Energy costs are a major concern for homeowners, especially those in the Western United States. That makes sense when you consider that, on average, Californians still pay 40 percent more for electricity than the national average. That’s despite the state’s heavy investment in renewable energy. When you live in the sunshine-drenched Golden State, you need options to save on energy. That’s where low-e glass windows come in.

These windows can help you save money on energy costs. They also protect the interior of your home in the process.

Read on for more reasons why you need US Window & Door to install low-e glass windows in your home.

The Lowdown on Low-E Glass Window

First of all, what exactly is Low-E glass? Low-e—or low emissivity—glass windows have a special coating that forms a barrier between the sun and your home. It works by blocking certain wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum.

These windows allow visible light to pass through while blocking two of the sun’s most destructive rays: UV and IR radiation.

UV, or ultraviolet, radiation is a particularly destructive emission. It’s the reason we tan or burn outside. It’s also the catalyst for skin cancer.

IR, or infrared, light is heat radiation. This emission is responsible for the overpowering warmth we feel coming off of the sun in the heat of the day.

With these windows, you can stop both of these damaging rays from entering your home.

Why You Need Low-E Glass Windows in Your Home

They Block Harmful UV Radiation

UV radiation has been famously shown to cause all manners of damage to the human body. Prolonged UV exposure is responsible for sunburns, skin cancer, and even permanent eye damage.

It doesn’t just have a negative effect on our bodies, though. UV radiation also has the power to damage your furniture and home’s interior by causing fading.

If you’ve ever left an object outside for a prolonged period of time, you’ve likely seen fading occur. Depending on the material, you may have even seen cracks develop as the object became brittle and dry. That’s UV radiation at work.

Low-e windows help stop this process. They block out enough of the sun’s UV radiation to keep your furniture and decor protected from its damaging effects.

You can keep your home’s interior protected without the need for heavy shades or fussy furniture covers.

Milgard Montecito Windows - Vertical Sliding Windows

They Keep the Heat Out

Because low-e windows block IR radiation—the sun’s main carrier of heat—they can keep extra warmth from entering your home.

By restricting the movement of IR radiation, these windows actually impact heat flow. That means that physical warmth has less of a chance of entering your home from the outside.

They can keep heat from leaving your home, too. On those rare cool days when you want a little extra warmth, your windows can save you from wasting your heater’s efforts.

They’re Energy Efficient and Can Save You Money

One of the biggest draws of low-e windows is their potential to save you money. Because they are so good at stopping heat transfer from your windows, they have the ability to save you big on your utility bill.

In fact, depending on the how energy efficient your current windows are, these windows can save you between $800 and $1,300 on energy costs over your lifetime.

That all goes back to heat flow. Low-e windows are so well-suited to mitigating heat flow that you’ll see their money-saving effects immediately.

You’ll no longer have to crank your a/c down to make up for the heat coming in through your windows.

If you combine low-e windows with other energy-saving modifications, you’ll maximize the control you have over the temperature of your home.

You Won’t Have to Sacrifice Your View

According to the old adage, what’s the most important aspect of real estate? Location, location, location.

That’s why many homeowners have traditionally avoided installing solar film screens on their windows or investing in blackout shades or blinds. These treatments do a great job of blocking the sun, but they cost you your view in the process.

Low-e windows skip that problem entirely. Because their special coating has very little effect on the visible light spectrum, they perform their heat-blocking duties without muddying your view.

These windows won’t make your home appear darker. You won’t have to wrestle with any restrictive window coverings every time you want to look outside.

Low-e windows might just offer your best chance of enjoying your beautiful California surroundings without dealing with the negative effects of the relentless sunshine.

Consider These Points Before You Buy

The benefits of these windows are seemingly endless, but there are a few points you need to consider before you decide to add them to your home.

You’ll Need to Buy New Windows

That’s because the coating that gives low-e glass its name can only be applied during the manufacturing process.

You can’t apply it to the windows that are already installed in your home.

You Have Different Types to Choose From

When you are shopping for low-e glass windows, you have two varieties to choose from: soft coat and hard coat.

With hard coat windows, the energy-efficient coating is applied directly to the glass while it’s still slightly molten. It creates a durable outer reflective layer to the window that can stand up to harsh environmental conditions.

These windows will sometimes have a slight tint visible from the outside. soft coat windows, the coating layer is much less durable. To protect it from environmental damage, it is usually sandwiched between two panes of insulated glass.

Soft coat windows tend to be better at reflecting heat and keeping your home cool. Their additional insulation makes them more energy efficient, too.

You May Need to Be Careful How You Clean Them

If you opt for a soft-coat model, you should be able to clean your windows as you normally would.

That’s because the special coating is protected on either side by panes of glass. Unless you break your window, you won’t be able to reach the delicate reflective layer inside.

If, however, you choose hard coat windows for your home, you’ll need to take special care to avoid damaging the reflective layer when you clean.

That means no abrasive cleaning tools and no ammonia-based window cleaners. While hard coat windows are durable and meant to resist scratching, it’s a good idea not to test it.

If you have questions about how to take care of your new windows, your installer will be able to help.

Angled Windows May Present a Problem

It’s a very rare concern, but if your home has any angled or concave windows, low-e glass might pose a problem to any plastic or vinyl objects in their vicinity.

That’s because the low-e coating is actually reflecting UV and IR radiation when it blocks it from entering your home. If the angle is just right, it could focus and bounce these rays onto a nearby object and cause some heat damage.

It’s the same phenomenon that can turn a magnifying glass on a sunny day into a tiny heat ray.

This risk doesn’t cause problems for most homeowners. If your windows are upright and flat, any reflected UV and IR radiation should bounce back harmlessly.

If, however, your windows are set at an angle or bowl-shaped, you should consult a professional for advice on how to prevent hot spots around your home.

Ready to Install Low-E Glass Windows: Call the Professionals

At US Window & Door, we help our clients manage their energy efficiency with high-quality windows and doors. We have more than 30 years of experience serving the greater San Diego area. We would love to help you with your new project.

Our Installation Process

Installing new windows throughout your home is a big step for most homeowners. That’s why our expert staff uses a multi-step installation process to ensure your project goes exactly according to plan.

To start, we provide you with a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll create an estimate and scope of work so you know what you’re getting into before we start.

Next, we help you choose the best window model for your home.

We ensure we have the right measurements for the project, then our expert technicians get to work.

Our fully licensed and insured in-house staff will install your new windows promptly—all according to your specifications, of course.

Wrapping It Up

Finally, we’ll follow up with our post-installation inspection. We double- and triple-check every aspect of the job to make sure it’s up to our high standards.

Of course, all of our products and services include a full lifetime guarantee. We’ll repair or replace any defective product at no cost to you. We also promise to use accurate measurements during installation and to protect your home from any harm during the process.

If you’re ready to install low-e glass windows in your home today, contact us to request a free estimate. We’re ready to get to work on your home.