Are you building a new home from the ground up? Or, are you planning to renovate an existing space you already own? Either way, windows can make or break a space.
The right ones will let in plenty of natural light and improve visibility within your home. However, if they’re too small for the space or installed in the wrong location, they can have the opposite effect.
Deciding which windows to buy can be a pain. There are so many different models on the market, which complicates a seemingly simple task. Today, most homes are built with dual pane windows, though this isn’t always the case.
Today, we’re breaking down the major differences between single pane and dual pane windows. Which ones are best for your home? Use our guide to find out.
What Are Single Pane Windows?
As their name implies, single pane windows only have one layer of glass. Like their dual pane counterparts, they’re available in a wide range of different sizes, shapes, and styles.
Curious about installing them in your home? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.
Advantages of Single Pane Windows
If you’re trying to keep your home project within a narrow budget, single pane windows will likely catch your eye. This is because they’re usually available at a much lower price point than dual pane windows. If you’re remodeling a property as a flip project, you might choose single pane home windows to conserve costs.
Moreover, single pane windows also have more of a historical, antique look than others. This is because they were the primary window style before more efficient dual pane alternatives came on the market. Most homes built before 1980 featured single pane windows.
If you’re renovating a historic home or simply want to add a heavy dose of vintage charm to your property, you might prefer the classic look that single pane windows provide.
Disadvantages of Single Pane Windows
While their price tag is attractive, single pane windows have their disadvantages.
For one, they’re less efficient at keeping noise at bay. If you live near a road, bustling city, or busy neighborhood, you’re more likely to hear that noise pollution within your home. This might not bother some people, but keep in mind that it can affect your quality of life.
Constant exposure to loud noises can also wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. You might find that you wake up more frequently, or spend less time in your necessary REM sleep stage.
In addition, single pane windows are also less energy-efficient. This means that you’re more likely to lose hot and cold air through them. You might discover that the windows feel too cold in the winter, and are too hot in the summer.
Over time, this could mean paying more in HVAC costs, and it also drives up the carbon footprint of your home. Thankfully, there are a few smart workarounds. To reduce utility costs and keep your home comfortable with single pane windows, you can:
- Hang heavy window treatments to prevent drafts
- Keep all of the windows properly caulked to prevent leaks
- Install a low-E coating on top of the glass
While most new windows come pre-built with low-E coating, you can also add it to existing glass windows. This is a special layer of protection that blocks certain rays from entering your home, as well as exiting it.
For instance, low-E coatings help your home retain heat in the winter. Yet, they prevent hot outside air from entering your home in the summer. Instead of installing the coating yourself, always trust this task to an experienced contractor.
What Are Dual Pane Windows?
Dual pane windows are also known as double pane windows. These are windows that include two separate panes of glass, instead of just one.
Rather than lying directly on top of one another, these panes have a thin space of air that separates them. It might seem insignificant, but that small space has a very important role.
In the winter, it traps incoming cold air and prevents most of it from entering into your home. In the summer, it catches the scorching heat. If you’re looking to replace windows with dual pane ones, here are the advantages you need to know.
Advantages of Dual Pane Windows
If you’re looking for energy efficient home windows, then go with dual pane ones. That air between the panes keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This helps your HVAC system run more efficiently.
You’ll notice the difference in your utility bill, plus you’ll be doing your part to lower your carbon footprint. If you want to take it a step further you can utilize window tinting services. You can get tint at various levels depending on a variety of variables like how penetrating the sun is on that window, for example.
Likewise, dual pane windows also offer superior noise protection. If you live in a mild climate with quiet neighbors, you might not notice the outside noise as much. In that case, single pane windows might suffice.
However, most of us live in areas where we want to block as many exterior sounds as possible. The extra insulation in dual pane windows helps keep your home as quiet as possible. For the ultimate protection, look for windows that feature extra-thick panes of glass.
Given all of the benefits that they provide, it’s also easy to see how dual pane windows would increase the resale value of your home. Modern home buyers are looking for features that make a property greener and more efficient, and these are a great start.
Disadvantages of Dual Pane Windows
There’s no denying that double pane windows out perform single pane windows when it comes to operation. However, there is an important drawback to consider.
These windows will cost more up front, simply because they’re newer and work better. However, while the sticker shock might surprise, it’s important to keep a long-term perspective.
You’ll save a significant amount of money on your heating and cooling costs if you make the switch. You’ll find that you won’t have to run your air conditioner as often in the summer, and you can also keep your heater at a lower setting when the temperatures start to dip.
Over the course of your home’s lifetime, this can be a major savings advantage. Plus, there’s no price tag on the peace of mind you’ll feel when you can’t hear your neighbors at night!
A Note on R-Value
We’ve talked about insulation, and how dual pane windows offer a greater degree of it. Yet, it can be difficult to compare different models in this regard.
To help your search, look at the R-value listed on each window’s label. In short, this measures how insulated the window is, or how resistant it is to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.
You’ll find that both dual pane and single pane windows will include R-value data on their labels. Single pane windows can offer some degree of insulation, especially if their glass is on the thicker side.
Maintenance and Upkeep
When comparing window types, it’s important to keep maintenance costs top of mind. While dual pane windows are designed to last longer than single pane ones, you might discover that you need to call the window installers sooner rather than later.
This is because condensation can develop between the two panes of glass over time. While this shouldn’t happen under normal operating conditions, it can occur if a seal becomes broken. It’s a quick fix, but it usually isn’t a free one.
What happens if there’s an issue with one of your windows that can’t be resolved with routine maintenance?
If you ever need to purchase a new one, it’s usually easier to find replacements if you’re working with dual pane models. Though manufacturers are still making single pane windows, they’re becoming increasingly difficult to find. That means you could install a house full of windows today, and have to replace all of them in 20 years if the manufacturer ceases production.
Which Do You Have?
Are you looking to replace your windows with new ones? If so, make sure you know what you’re working with. Take a look at the outside edge of the window, where the glass and the sash meet.
If you have dual pane windows, you’ll see a thin metal divider here. This divider separates the two panes. If you don’t see a divider, you likely have single pane windows.
Another way to tell is to consider the age of your home. If it still has original windows and was built more than 40 years ago, it likely has single pane ones.
Single Pane vs Dual Pane Windows: Which Wins?
In the debate between single pane and dual pane windows, the latter comes out on top. These windows are more energy efficient, cut back on noise pollution, and help keep your home more comfortable.
However, they will also cost more to install. If you’re on a tight budget or flipping a property, you may prefer single pane varieties. The same goes for homeowners who want to maintain the historic look of their home.
Looking for more advice on how to beautify your property? Check out our Design and Decor section!
Alex Grogoyan is a Professional Home Improvement and Lifestyle Writer. He has been in the industry for over 6 years and has been writing for Chique Home Living since 2019. His work has been featured in popular platforms such as Spruce Home, Better Homes & Garden, and more.