What is a Low-E Window and How Does it Work?

Get a handle on home heat and cooling loss with low-E technology.

Old single-paned windows have high emissivity, which means that when you fire up the thermostat, you are effectively heating and cooling the whole outdoors. The latest generation of low-E windows acts as insulation to rein in thermal loss and gain. These windows repel as much as 96 percent of infrared radiation from the sun whereas traditional clear glass windows reflect only about 16 percent, according to the Efficient Windows Collaborative. Plus, they provide the fringe benefits of reducing your monthly utility bills, defusing the sun’s power to fade your furnishings and toning down annoying glare.

The Technology

The window manufacturing industry has developed a triple-pronged approach to the problem of thermal loss through the windows in your home or business:

1. Specially engineered tints
2. Insulating gas fillers
3. Low-E coatings

Adding metal alloy tinting materials during the manufacturing process can lower the emissivity of window glass by as much as 55 percent. High-tech tints allow visible mid-spectrum light to pass through while repelling thermal infrared light. Spectrally selective tints absorb damaging ultraviolet rays to minimize furniture fading.

Contemporary windows are composed of two to three layers of glass. Manufacturers fill the spaces in between the panes with inert gasses like argon or krypton. These substances slow the movement of air between the panes to reduce heat transfer.

Low-E coatings also help keep heat exchange to a minimum. Adding this type of coating to a window is akin to layering on another pane of glass without adding to the overall weight of the window. The low-E coating is typically composed of several ultra-thin layers of metal oxide.

Pros of Low-E Windows

These windows provide you with a number of benefits as a property owner:

  • Increasing the resale value of your property
  • Minimizing strain on your heating and cooling equipment
  • Improving the appearance of your home
  • Helping to maintain a comfortable indoor environment
  • Helping to prevent UV damage to furnishings, carpets and draperies
  • Providing utility bill savings

Cons of Low-E Windows

Some drawbacks to consider when selecting your new windows include:

  • Higher initial cost than standard windows
  • Heavier than single-paned windows
  • If tinted, they may reduce visibility
  • If broken, they are more expensive to repair/replace
  • Selection may be limited

 Expert Advice in Hoosier Country

Our window replacement experts at Hoosier Windows & Siding of Fort Wayne and Indianapolis are happy to share their knowledge about low-E window options and help you decide which models meet your needs the best. Contact us today to learn more about your options in energy-efficient windows.

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