Should You Choose Low-E Glass For Your Home?

Many years ago, low-e glass was not really the norm and was thought of as a luxury addition for residential and commercial windows. But now, more and more homeowners are going with this type of glass for their homes. If you're not sure whether it's the best option, here are your questions answered about this type of glass installation so you know wither it's the best choice for you.

What is Low-e Glass?

If you've ever wondered what low-e stands for, it refers to "low emissivity." And when you have windows that are labeled "low-e," it means the glass surface has been coated with a microscopic film of metallic oxides. Because it's microscopic, the film is completely invisible and, therefore, lets plenty of natural sunlight into your home. But the film additionally works to block UV rays from entering.

UV rays only make up a fraction of the sun's light, but they are the most dangerous part. They can damage skin cells and cause wrinkles or cancers to form. And what they do to skin, they also do to your furniture, carpets, and household electronics, causing colors to fade and plastic to warp with prolonged exposure.

Where is the Coating Applied?

A soft coating low-e glass has the metallic oxide coating on the inside of the glass whereas hard coats go on the outside. What's the difference?

Soft coatings have a high reflectivity, offering great protection for your home. But because the coating is on the inside, they are not quite as strong as ones with a hard coat. Hard coats are more durable but less efficient, and they are commonly used on storm windows.

If you opt for double pane windows, the coating goes between the layers of glass. This option offers maximum protection because it not only reflects UV light, but it also offers a type of insulation, blocking drafts and preventing heat loss.

What are the Benefits of Low-e Glass?

Comfort and savings. Glass windows all have what's known as an emittance factor, and this number tells how efficient they are.

Glass that lacks a coating has an emittance factor of 0.84 which means that 84% of the sun's heat energy will be absorbed by the glass and allowed into your home. Glass with low-e coatings can bring that number down to 2%. So, during the summer, you'll enjoy a home that stays cooler with less effort and a reduced energy bill.

During the winter, that same low-e coating that blocks the sun's UV light also prevents the heat in your home from escaping, and it does this by reflecting heat back into the room. If you stand close to a low-e window during the winter, you can sometimes feel the heat that's reflected back.

Low-e coatings between double panes of glass are sometimes loosely referred to by professionals as "triple pane." Add an inert gas and you've just bumped up the R-value even more.

Furniture protection. Since UV light can cause carpets, furniture, and wood floors to fade, low-e glass can increase the longevity of these investments. Many homeowners with wood floors and antique furniture resort to applying lacquers, varnishes, and other sealants in order to protect their possessions.

Cleaning ease. Cleaning low-e glass really doesn't require any special tools or cleaners. Use a soft cloth and regular glass cleaning products or a dilute vinegar solution. It's advised to stay away from products that contain ammonia or alcohol because they tend to streak. Also, be sure to avoid using a squeegee on the side with the coating as this can tug it away from the glass. Lastly, steel wool and razor blades can scratch the surface, so those should never be used.