What to look for when buying double glazing - Which? (2024)

For many households, installing double glazing will mean smaller energy bills and a warmer home.

But it's a big expense, so you want to make the right decision for your home. Here, we explain some of the more technical elements of double glazing. First, make sure you’ve chosen the best type of double glazing for your home.

If you decide to go ahead and buy double glazing, we can help you choose the best double glazing company for your home. We surveyed thousands of double glazing customers to reveal what they really think about their double glazing firm.

The top scorer got a strong customer score of 76%, while the bottom managed 66%. To find out more, see our double glazing company reviews. It includes ratings for Anglian, Everest and Crystal Windows and Doors.

Double glazing claims: how effective is it?

Double glazing has many advantages over single glazing (where there's just one pane of glass and no air layer or gas):

  • Keeps warm air in, meaning your property is better insulated. This results in fewer draughts and cheaper heating bills.
  • Keeps noise out – you'll hear less noise from outside with double glazing.
  • Reduces the amount of condensation on the inside of your windows.
  • Heightens security – double-glazed glass is more difficult to break than single glazing.

But its effectiveness, and how much you notice these benefits, will depend on what you’re replacing and the quality of the product you buy.

The most efficient double glazing has gas between the panes (such as argon), and uses low-emissivity glass (Low-E), which has a reflective metal oxide coating to help bounce sunlight back into a home.

Will getting double glazing reduce my energy bills?

Many firms claim that fitting double glazing will cut your energy bills, and this is often the motivation for homeowners to purchase double glazing. However, it can be difficult for consumers to accurately tell how much money they are savings.

If all of the single-glazed windows were replaced in a detached house with A++ double glazed windows, the Energy Saving Trust says that you could save up to £175 per year. For a mid-terraced house, where it is attached on both sides and so would naturally use and lose less heat, it would be £60.

The picture below is a thermal image showing the difference in heat loss between single-glazed and double-glazed windows. The house on the left has a single-glazed window where we can see more heat escaping - indicated by the bright yellow colours.

What are energy ratings for double glazing?

The energy-rating system for double glazing (pictured below) follows a similar pattern to appliance energy labels. Windows are rated between A++ (the best) and E (the worst). Building regulations require all new windows to be at least C-rated. Each of the big-name companies claim different levels of energy efficiency, some as much as A++.

The energy rating system is run by the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC). Look for its name on the energy rating label of your window. This shows you that its performance has been verified by the BFRC.

Some companies offer additional energy-saving measures on top of their standard double-glazed windows and doors. For example, Safestyle says its EcoDiamond double glazing exceeds heat retention and weather performance tests.

Before you buy into any claims, we recommend visiting our double glazing company reviews to see what their customers really think of them.

U-Value

When looking at energy ratings, you'll also see the 'U-Value'. U-Value is a measure of how easily heat can pass through something. The lower the amount of heat the material lets escape, the higher the U-Value will be.

Some windows might have a high energy rating, but low U-Value. This is because the energy rating looks at all aspects of the window, including the types of glass or gas, and not just how well the materials insulate, so they might be better overall.

Does double glazing require ventilation?

Ventilation requirements for newly installed double glazing have changed as new building regulations known as 'Approved Document F' came into force on 15 June 2022.

Certifiedcompetent.co.uk, a dedicated home improvement information and advice site backed by the Certass organisation runs a FreshAirFeeling campaign to raise awareness about ventilation. Certass is a leading certification body for competent tradespeople that works as a partner with Which? Trusted Traders.

The new regulations require extra ventilation to be provided to habitable rooms - living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms - when over 30% of the property’s windows are replaced. This is because new windows are likely to be more airtight, preventing fresh air from entering.

What to look for when buying double glazing - Which? (1)

There are two ways to get fresh air into a home:

  1. Purge ventilation - opening doors and windows
  2. Background ventilation - allowing fresh air in at a low level continuously

The new building regulations require background ventilation. There are a variety of methods:

Window trickle ventilators - holes are drilled through the window frame, with external and internal covers over the holes. A cheap but visually intrusive method, with poorer energy efficiency than other methods.

Passive wall ventilation - this allows fresh air into a room through a small hole in the wall. Does not need a power supply and can be located anywhere in a room. Less obtrusive and more controllable than window vents.

Positive input ventilation - works like an extractor fan you would find in a kitchen or bathroom, but in reverse. Usually set to a low speed to minimise noise, it pushes filtered fresh air into a room.

Mechanical heat recovery ventilation - a whole house system that moves warm stale air and fresh air through a heat exchanger. Ducts in each room extract stale air and bring in fresh air, while the main unit has fans and filters to direct and clean the air. An effective but expensive system.

Good ventilation helps reduce condensation and damp. If these are issues in your home, read our guide on how to get rid of damp.

Can double glazing reduce noise and soundproof?

Some consumers decide to get double glazing to try and reduce noise, and many others notice this beneficial impact after their new windows have been installed.

As double glazing consists of two panes of glass instead of one, it's likely to cut out more sound that single-glazing. Triple glazing should cut it down even more.

Different companies purport different levels of noise reduction. Anglian recommend their secondary glazing to combat noise. Safestyle says its windows typically provide around 31dB reduction in outside noise.

Everest offers acoustic glass, which it says reduces sound by up to 40db. You can see more about the extras and options Anglian, Eversest and Safestyle offer on their individual pages.

Will double glazing make my home more secure?

While two panes of glass is trickier to break than one, the most important thing is to have key-operated locks fitted to your windows.

This is vital for home insurance, which will usually specify that ground-level windows, and accessible upper-floor windows, must have adequate security measures.

Making wooden windows secure

If you have wooden casement windows (hinged on one side and opening outwards), choose locks which secure the window and frame together. This gives extra resistance (compared with only securing the handle) if an intruder tries to force open the window.

Where the window sites flush to the frame, fit key-operated mortice rack bolts and look for the British Standard 7950 kitemark – this is a specification for enhanced security performance for domestic casement windows.

Securing uPVC windows

These windows are made with an insurance-standard multi-point locking system. When the handle is turned, it engages several bolts with a plate, making the window very secure.

Making sash windows secure

Sash stops are the best way to secure the window. Bars, clasps and fasteners are not considered locks.

Sash stops prevent the window from being forced upwards. Plus you can also use them to lock a sash window open for ventilation. They are visible from the outside so act as a good visual deterrent.

Dual screws (which bolt the sash window frames together) are an alternative option, though they’re more fiddly and not as effective.

What double glazing extras do I need?

Beyond the window or door itself, handles, colour, decoration and more are important to the overall look and feel of your finished project.

Colour options

Some companies offer window frames in a range of colours, including more contemporary options. Handles typically come in white, black, chrome and gold.

Handles

Different shaped handles are available to suit every taste from modern to minimal, rustic to traditional.

Decorative windows

You can add patterns, textures and colour to your window to make it unique. Options include:

  • leaded glass in square, rectangular or triangular patterns (which can help keep the feel of a period property)
  • obscure glass (for when you want more privacy, perhaps in a bathroom or where the window is close to passers-by)
  • jewelled or bevelled glass can add a hint of colour, and is often seen in glazed front doors.
  • window bars mimic cottage-style windows by making a single pane look like multiple small panels of glass.

Our research

In August 2022, we asked 3,409 people about their experiences with buying double glazing, as well as the company they bought double glazed windows and/or doors from, and had them installed by, in the last 10 years.

As an expert in the field of double glazing, I can provide you with information related to the concepts mentioned in the article. Let's dive into the technical elements of double glazing and explore its benefits, energy efficiency, ventilation requirements, noise reduction, security measures, and additional features.

Benefits of Double Glazing

Double glazing offers several advantages over single glazing. It helps in:

  • Insulation: Double glazing keeps warm air inside, resulting in better insulation, fewer draughts, and cheaper heating bills.
  • Noise Reduction: With two panes of glass, double glazing reduces the amount of noise from outside, providing a quieter indoor environment.
  • Condensation Reduction: Double glazing helps in reducing condensation on the inside of windows.
  • Enhanced Security: Double-glazed glass is more difficult to break compared to single glazing, thus improving security.

The effectiveness of double glazing and the extent to which you notice these benefits depend on the quality of the product and what you're replacing it with.

Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings

Double glazing is often chosen by homeowners to reduce energy bills. The most efficient double glazing typically includes gas between the panes (such as argon) and low-emissivity glass (Low-E), which has a reflective metal oxide coating to bounce sunlight back into the home. The Energy Saving Trust states that replacing all single-glazed windows in a detached house with A++ double-glazed windows can save up to £175 per year, while for a mid-terraced house, the savings can be around £60 per year.

Energy Ratings for Double Glazing

The energy-rating system for double glazing follows a similar pattern to appliance energy labels. Windows are rated between A++ (the best) and E (the worst). Building regulations require all new windows to be at least C-rated. The energy rating system is run by the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC), and their name should be visible on the energy rating label of your window. Different companies claim different levels of energy efficiency, with some even offering A++ ratings .

Ventilation Requirements for Double Glazing

New building regulations known as 'Approved Document F' require extra ventilation to be provided to habitable rooms when over 30% of the property's windows are replaced. This is because new windows tend to be more airtight, limiting fresh air entry. There are various methods to achieve ventilation, including window trickle ventilators, passive wall ventilation, positive input ventilation, and mechanical heat recovery ventilation. Good ventilation helps reduce condensation and dampness.

Noise Reduction and Soundproofing

Double glazing, with its two panes of glass, is likely to reduce noise compared to single glazing. Triple glazing can further enhance noise reduction. Different companies offer varying levels of noise reduction, with some recommending secondary glazing or acoustic glass for better sound insulation.

Security Measures for Double Glazing

While two panes of glass make double glazing more secure than single glazing, it is essential to have key-operated locks fitted to windows for adequate security. Different types of locks are recommended for different window types, such as wooden casement windows, uPVC windows, and sash windows. It is important to meet the security requirements specified by home insurance policies.

Additional Features and Customization

Beyond the window or door itself, there are various options for customization and additional features. These include:

  • Color options: Some companies offer window frames in a range of colors, including contemporary options.
  • Handles: Different shaped handles are available to suit different preferences.
  • Decorative windows: Patterns, textures, and colors can be added to windows, including leaded glass, obscure glass, jeweled or beveled glass, and window bars.

These are some of the key concepts related to double glazing discussed in the article. If you have any specific questions or need further information, feel free to ask!

What to look for when buying double glazing - Which? (2024)

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