Energy Efficiency Replacement Windows

Low-E Glass vs Window Film: Which is Best to Block Heat?

4 min read

In Atlanta, we’re no strangers to hot weather. And sometimes it’s hard to escape the heat, even indoors.

If you’re exploring ways to make your home’s temperatures more consistent and comfortable, you’ve come to the right place! Your windows play a large role in both your home’s comfort levels and energy efficiency. The right windows – specifically window panes – can help stabilize your home’s temperatures year round, while increasing energy efficiency and lowering your energy bills.

There are two common ways to block heat coming into your home through your windows: low-E glass and window tint. Here, we’ll break down the differences between the two and which is the most efficient.

Home with brown cedar roof and custom shaped windows.

What is Low-E Glass?

Low-emissivity, or low-E, glass is glass that has been treated with a microscopic coating that filters certain types of light into your home. The coating on the glass blocks heat gain from the sun in warmer months and allows warmth from the sun’s shorter rays to flow into your home during cooler seasons. At Window World of Atlanta, our SolarZone Low-E glass is created by applying a microscopic, undetectable metallic coating to the second surface of an insulated glass unit.

Low-E glass is one of the most effective energy efficiency upgrades for vinyl replacement windows. Low-E coating can’t be added after installation, so the only way to get this coating is by having replacement windows installed.

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Pros of Low-E Glass

  • Provides Unmatched Energy Efficiency – By blocking heat and UV rays during the summer and allowing the short rays in during the winter, your home’s HVAC system will be able to work more efficiently to keep your home comfortable. By increasing your home’s energy efficiency, you’ll save money on your energy bills every month and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Performs With Multi-Pane Windows – Unlike window film, low-E glass performs well with double and triple-pane windows. Where window film can cause fogging or condensation between panes, low-E glass does not cause this issue.
  • Protects Furniture and Carpet From Fading – If you’ve noticed your carpet, furniture, or window treatments fading in areas that get consistent sunlight, low-E glass can help prevent future fading by filtering the majority of UV rays.
  • Increases Window Durability – Even though low-E coating is microscopic, it does help increase your window’s durability.
  • Available for All Window Sizes and Styles – Because the low-E coating is applied during the window manufacturing process, it is available for all window and door styles in every size.
  • Adds Value to Your Home – Looking for small ways to add value to your home? Opt for low-E glass in your replacement windows. Energy-efficient windows can add thousands to your home’s value.

Cons of Low-E Glass

  • More Expensive Than Window Film – Because low-E glass requires you to purchase replacement windows, it is undoubtedly more expensive than window film.
Window seat features double hung window.

What is Window Film?

Window films, also known as window tint, are an aftermarket solution that reduces the amount of heat and UV rays that enter your home. Window films are typically made of polyester laminate and further treated to filter light and UV rays. Some films visibly darken windows, while other films are nearly invisible. Window films can be efficient, but as we’ll see, their cons outweigh the pros.

Pros of Window Film

  • Inexpensive – As we mentioned, window film is less expensive than replacement windows with low-E coating. Prices vary based on the brand and type of film you purchase.
  • Easy to Find – Window films are available online and at most hardware or home improvement stores.
  • Can DIY – While there are professional window film companies, it is possible to apply it to your windows yourself.
  • Protects Furniture and Carpet From Fading – Like low-E glass, window film can help prevent your furniture, carpet, and window treatments from fading.

Cons of Window Film

  • Can Lead to Condensation in Multi-Pane Windows – If you have double or triple-pane windows, the heat will only be reflected away from one pane of glass. This causes a big difference in the temperature of that pane and the other panes – and in a climate like Atlanta, the temperature discrepancy can be severe. This difference in temperature leads to condensation, which is always a bad sign and will need to be addressed by a professional.
  • Voids Your Warranty – If your windows have a warranty from your installer or manufacturer, applying aftermarket window film will almost certainly void it completely.
  • Can Get Expensive – Yes, window film is inexpensive when compared to replacement windows, but if your home has a lot of windows, the cost can quickly climb higher than you initially expected.
  • Difficult to Apply to Unconventionally Shaped Windows – Do you have custom windows in your home? Applying window film to these unconventional shapes is difficult and can leave your windows looking shoddy.
  • Is a Semi-Permanent or Permanent Application – While temporary window films are available, most are semi-permanent (will leave residue on your windows) or permanent (impossible to remove). When the film stops performing, it will be difficult or impossible to remove, leaving you with ineffective film on your windows.
  • Impacts Your Window’s Appearance – Even with clear window films, you’ll notice a slight difference in the way your windows look. Not to mention that if the film becomes scratched, you’ll notice it immediately. And as we mentioned, removing it to reapply is no easy feat.

The Winner: Low-E Glass

If you’re in the market for replacement windows, opting for windows with low-E glass is by far the best way to block the heat and UV rays coming into your home through your windows. You’ll also enjoy energy-saving benefits from our light and durable vinyl frames as well as double or triple-panes.

If you’re ready to make your Atlanta home cooler, choose Window World. Get started by requesting your free estimate today!

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