upgrade your windows to be more energy efficient

Low E Coatings or Reflective Glass?

Two Ways to Upgrade Your Windows and Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

If your windows haven’t been replaced in years and it feels like your energy bills have been steadily increasing year after year no matter what you do, it might be time to consider upgrading your windows to double-paned sealed units made of Low E coated glass or reflective glass to slow down the transmission of heat into and out of your home.

What is Low E Glass?

Low E stands for Low Emissivity. In the glass and window industry, this term refers to glass that has been treated with a coating during the manufacturing process, which is intended to reduce the amount of infrared and ultraviolet rays entering your home through your windows. The coatings do not affect the amount of visible sunlight coming into your home.

In other words, Low E windows have a transparent, thinner-than-human-hair coating that helps keep summer heat out and winter heat in.

How Does Low E Glass Work?

The primary function of Low E glass is filtering out harmful solar radiation (ultraviolet rays). When such solar radiation hits a piece of glass that has a Low E coating, the coating is essentially acting as a sunscreen and blocking harmful UV rays. So how does this impact your energy costs? It’s simple – when regular glass is swapped out for Low E coated glass, less air-conditioning is required in the summer, and less heating is required in winter. Comfort levels go up, while costs go down.

In colder weather, Low E helps trap solar heat in the room. In other words, in the wintertime, Low E coated windows act as a mild insulator, helping to improve drafty windows and reflect the heat in the room back onto the occupants. Low E glass works the same as after-market window film, but it is applied during the glass manufacturing process – before the installation of the glass –  rather than being retrofitted onto existing windows.

Two Types of Low E Glass: Soft and Hard

There are two types of Low E glass: soft and hard coated, and each comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Hard-Coat Low E Coatings – These passive Low E coatings are manufactured using the pyrolytic process, resulting in a pyrolytic coating that is sprayed on and then fused to the glass during the production process. The hard coat is very durable and allows the glass to be tempered or accessorized with a blind in between panels, for example.

With hard-coated glass, the U-values will be higher, so the window won’t be as energy efficient. Hard-coated Low E glass also has a higher solar heat gain co-efficient, so more summer heat and light will be allowed to pass through. Hard coats are more ideal for extremely cold climates.

Soft-Coat Low E Coatings (Soft-Coat) – These softer Low E coatings are manufactured using something referred to as the Magnetron Sputtering Vapor Deposition (MSVD) process. The coating is applied once the pre-cut glass is off the production line at room temperature in a vacuum chamber. Soft coats need to be sealed in an insulated glass or laminated unit. In many cases, argon gas is used as the insulator. Soft-coat Low E glass has lower emissivity than hard coats and better solar control performance.

With soft-coated glass, two coats are required, and extreme care must be used during the handling of the glass as it is being installed. For this reason, soft-coat Low E glass is more expensive, but it’s ultimately better for milder climates.

Not all types of Low E coatings are compatible with all types of climates, so in order to be effective, the type of coating selected must match its intended purposes. Coated windows should also be installed by a professional glass specialist for best results, and then maintained properly so they can last for years to come.

A glass specialist can help you determine if Low E windows will work with what you are trying to achieve when you upgrade your windows, or if a coloured reflective glass, such as a bronze reflective glass, might add a more decorative touch.

Bronze, Silver, or Gold Reflective Glass

Another way to reduce your heating and cooling costs by upgrading your windows is to switch out the regular glass of your sealed units with reflective glass that contains a metallic coating on the surface. Like Low E coatings, reflective glass can be used in windows to control solar energy radiation. This not only protects your eyes and your skin from sun damage, it also helps protect your furniture and carpet from fading. Reflective glass also helps regulate the home’s indoor temperatures.

Reflective glass comes in a variety of thicknesses, allowing property owners to control its strength and colour. It can be cut, bent, tempered, heat-strengthened, and laminated without affecting the coating.

Unlike Low E coatings, which you cannot detect on your windows, some reflective glass such as bronze reflective glass is a different shade, so it alters the look of your home or building as well as your view out the window. Reflective glass also gives a mirror-like appearance from the exterior of the building, so in this sense, in addition to lowering your home’s heating and cooling costs, reflective glass can add more privacy and a decorative touch to your home.

Considering new windows to enhance the look and comfort of your property and increase its value? The good news is that by upgrading your windows, you can drastically reduce your energy bills and increase the comfort inside your home!

Talk to Your Window and Glass Specialists

To fully maximize the money-saving potential of upgraded windows and/or sealed units, we recommend talking to your local window and glass experts who can help you decide between Low E coatings or reflective glass. They will go over the following factors with you:

  • Insulating performance,
  • ROI and initial costs,
  • Installation process,
  • Warranties, and
  • Effect on occupants.

The glass and window specialists at Budget Glass Nanaimo can help by selecting and installing the right low e coated or reflective windows for your needs. We always guarantee the quality of our products and installation, ensuring your glass work is done right, on time, and within budget. Call Budget Glass for a free quote on sealed unit replacements.

Call Budget Glass Nanaimo at (250) 758-3374 or schedule an appointment online to start saving money on your energy bills!