Introduction to Double Glazing
Double glazing has been around for many years, but it's only since the 1970s that it's really become a popular home improvement in the UK.
Although double glazing was first invented in Scotland, it became known by the brand Thermopane in the United States in the 1930s.
In the 1970s and 80s double glazing started to become popular - this was because prices were dropping with the introduction of cheaper plastic UPVC windows and also because people started to realise the need to conserve energy, prompted no doubt by increasingly strict government building regulations.
At its simplest, double glazing is simply 2 panes of glass with a gap between them. The gap is not, as some people think, a vacuum, it is usually filled either with air or with an inert gas such as argon or krypton.
Double glazing works because the gas in the gap doesn't conduct heat very well when compared to the glass, therefore the whole sealed unit is a good insulator compared to a single pane window.
Although most people buy double glazing for its heat insulating properties, there are other benefits as well. Sealed double glazing units provide much better sound insulation than traditional single pane windows. That can be really important if for example you live near a busy road, the difference in noise levels within your house will be very noticeable and can lead to a much better quality of life.
The other benefit of double glazing compared to older windows is that the locks and catches are much more secure, making it far harder for a burglar to gain access to your property through a window.
There are two main choices when it comes to buying double glazing: UPVC frames, or wooden frames. UPVC frames tend to be cheaper and have the benefit of being maintenance free. Wooden frames on the other hand may cost a little more and will need painting every few years but are often thought to look much better especially in older properties where plastic windows never quite look right.
Unfortunately the double glazing business has developed quite a bad reputation with many pushy salesman and dubious special offers competing for your business. Buying replacement windows is quite a large purchase for most people so it's important that you avoid the cowboys and get a quality product.
If you choose one of the major nationwide brands, you're likely to avoid the worst contractors - but you may pay a bit extra for that piece of mind. Choosing a high-quality local firm might save you some money, and the best bet is to get a recommendation from someone else who has used them and been satisfied. Look up and down your street for houses with double glazing that you like, and you can ask the owners who installed it and if they were happy with the quality of product, and the service provided by the installers.
Although double glazing will save you money off your heating bills in the long term, it is quite an expensive purchase. Don't forget that you don't have to do the whole house at once if you don't want to. Also, it's worth shopping around and getting several quotes to make sure you're getting the best deal.
It makes sense to research the subject thoroughly online before you begin. Sites like AboutDoubleGlazing.co.uk offer lots of information and independent advice on all aspects of double glazing, so you can become an expert, and make sure you pick the right product and get the best deal available.