Even now, plenty of British homes make do without the benefits of double glazing - or at least without the benefits of modern double glazing, which is a world away, in terms of quality and bill-reducing abilities, from the stuff you used to get installed in the 80s. Modern double glazing is better sealed, it costs less to make and put in, and it can be had in a variety of attractive finishes suitable for any style of home or extension.
The overall benefits of double glazing are well known. What you might not have realised is exactly how much money you could save by having the modern stuff installed. Modern argon filled glass (which comes highly recommended) prevents the ingress of moisture, cold air and sound: and of course stops all the lovely warm air from getting out.
One of the things that can make a winter heating bill a freezing experience for the pocket as well as the heart is seam leakage on your windows. Even double glazed windows that were the state of the art when your house was built, or when you had them put in 20 years ago, have weak spots in the corners of their seals, or in the joins between brick work and jamb. Little streams of cold air get in through these tiny cracks - and streams of centrally heated air respire from the house into the world outside.
You'll know if you have problems with your double glazing because the air next to the windows will feel slightly colder than the air in the rest of your home. You'll also find that the windows collect a band of condensation on their insides (the bit between the two panes), usually around the bottom of the frame. Either of these signs can be an early warning that your existing glazing is not working as well as it used to.
Modern double glazing works by forming a barrier between the external temperatures and air condition (i.e. humid, wet, dry and so on) and the internal atmosphere of your house. The best types of modern glazing, in terms of cost efficiency for their performance, are argon filled - which is to say that the cavity between the panes has been filled with a chemically inert, colourless, odourless and completely harmless gas that has a much better insulating efficiency than air. The highest thermal efficiency of all is achieved by glass that has had the air evacuated completely from the gap between panes, forming a vacuum. This glass is expensive because creating vacuums between glazing panes is a laborious, complicated and costly process. Using an inert gas like argon has a similar effect and is a lot easier to do - hence the cost effectiveness of having argon filled double glazing installed in your home.
If you install argon filled glass in your home, you could drop your heating bills by a third. That's because argon conducts temperature with two thirds the efficiency of air. If the gap between the panes in your double glazing is conducting the external temperature in towards the internal pane of glass with only two thirds the ability of air, then only two thirds of the cold gets in. Similarly, only two thirds of the heat from inside the home makes the journey across the argon barrier to the outer pane of the glazing unit.
You can use gases that are even more effective than argon (krypton, for example, which could potentially cut your heat loss by two thirds) - but you'll find the cost of installation goes up to a point where we can't sensibly recommend that you choose windows filled with them. For cost of purchase and installation plus bill reducing power, argon filled double glazing takes prizes across the board.
When you do choose to switch from single glazing, or old style double glazing, to modern glass solutions, don't overlook your doors. Any door that has glazing is fair game for double glazing - and in a lot of cases is also one of the biggest culprits for letting cold air in and leaking warm ait out. A door, of course, is designed to be opened and closed regularly, which means it is more likely than most internal to external surfaces, to be improperly sealed. When you do have your glazing done, think about having all inside to outside doors looked at too - whether they have glass in them or not. You can save a fortune on your energy bills with modern double glazing, after all, only to have all that money seep out under your old front door.
Don't forget that your bills aren't the only things you could be reducing by installing modern double glazed window and door units. You'll experience better noise buffering between inside and out - which means you can have parties in good conscience as well as not being kept awake by the neighbour's dog! - and you will also find that the amount of moisture transference between the panes goes down to practically nothing. Achieve a better energy rating for your home, pay less on your energy bills and enjoy the modern good looks of an aluminium, PVCu or wooden finish. Whatever your home looks like, from old Tudor spread to super modern flat, there's a double glazed solution out there that will fit you, and it, perfectly.
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