Replacing or renovating windows: Comparison of materials and information on thermal insulation glazing

Replacing or renovating windows: Comparison of materials and information on thermal insulation glazing


Houses lose a lot of heat energy due to leaky windows. Renovation improves the energy balance, but it can not replace new glazing.

Rooms constantly lose heat, especially through the windows, which involve three physical types of heat propagation: energy escapes through the glass through heat conduction and heat radiation. Through small gaps, houses lose energy through the heat flow.

What is possible when renovating windows

Warm air escapes through leaky windows and cold air escapes into the house. To prevent this drafts, only small financial expenses and little work are required. The small columns can be easily detected by tenants or homeowners with the help of a candle.

If the air penetrates between the sashes and the frame, it is advisable to glue sealing profiles on. If it pulls between glass and frame, either silicone (for metal or plastic windows) or window putty is necessary for sealing.

Crevices between frame and soffit or window sill can also be filled with silicone.

Wood windows sometimes also have holes or gaps in the wood. To remove these, Holzkitt is suitable. In general, windows made of wood should be regularly treated with suitable lacquers or glazes to prevent cracks and warping.

Such a window renovation can never prevent heat loss through heat conduction or heat radiation. Therefore, the measures make sense only with multi-pane windows or skylights, which are at least provided with insulating glass. With a single glazing, the effort is hardly worthwhile and is at best suitable as an emergency measure.

Nobody can improve the thermal insulation of glass. Such a building material does not exist.

Advantages of new windows with heat protection glass

A simple example shows why renovation reaches its limits: windows with a single pane of glass lose so much through ducting and radiation Heat, how to produce 60 liters of fuel oil when burning. Older windows, with two panes between which air is trapped, reduce heat conduction. Nevertheless, it escapes as much heat as 30 liters of fuel oil can produce. A window replacement is worthwhile, as it saves on heating costs.

Double-pane thermal protection glazing has wafer-thin metal layers and rare gas instead of air in the space between the panes. These gases are better insulators, also reduce the windows and the heat radiation. Compared to the single-pane glass, the heat loss is only a quarter. In other words, the glass costs 15 liters of heating oil per year per square meter. Whoever uses a heat-resistant glazing instead of single pane glass saves 45 liters of fuel oil per square meter or the equivalent amount of another fuel.

Even better are so-called warm windows consisting of three glass panes between which metal layers and noble gases are enclosed. In these windows, the frames are also insulated. Such windows save 53 liters of fuel oil per square meter compared to single-pane window glass.

The better window surfaces are insulated, the less heat is lost through them. However, experts warn against using warm windows or heat-insulating glass in poorly insulated house walls and forgoing additional forced ventilation.

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Well-insulated windows are not always the best solution

Warm air can absorb more moisture than cold. If the heated room air sweeps along a cool surface, the water vapor contained therein precipitates as condensed water. There will be wet spots where mold can form.

Dense, well-insulated windows are often the warmest areas on the outside walls. At the same time they prevent the moist air from being exchanged for dry outside air. In old buildings, the installation of such windows is therefore only meaningful if at the same time the facade is insulated.

Anyone who has windows with insulating glass in the old building should consult an energy consultant in order to create an overall concept for the thermal insulation. In case of doubt, it makes sense to seal such windows well instead of replacing them.

If there are windows with single-pane glass, it is advisable to replace them, as the energy lost by these windows is very large. But even here it is important to talk to a specialist about additional measures.

Conclusion: Renovating windows only makes sense if they are leaking. An exchange is worthwhile with old poorly insulated windows, but mold can form. For this reason, well-insulated windows should only be installed after consultation with an energy consultant.

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