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Single vs Double Pane Windows: What’s the Difference?

Single vs Double Pane Windows: What’s the Difference?

Are you in the market for new windows for your home? Windows are more than just glass—your building’s energy efficiency largely depends on the type of windows you install.

If you are wondering which way to go between single vs double pane windows, we’ll help you understand your options so you can make smart purchasing decisions.

What is a single pane window?

As the name suggests, a single pane window is one that consists of one layer of glass. In the US, about 48 million houses are fitted with this type of window. If yours is an older home, your windows probably consist of a single layer of glass.

Single layered windows come in a variety of styles including vinyl-framed, aluminum, and wooden-framed windows.

Pros of single pane windows

Admittedly, windows with one layer get a bad rap these days, as everyone is prioritizing energy-efficiency and cost-saving. On the upside, these windows can be quite pocket friendly upfront compared to their double or even triple pane counterparts.

Generally, buying a standard single pane window could set you back about $3 a piece. When you factor in labor costs, you might pay anything in the range of $50 to $80.

Cons of single pane windows

While single layered windows are easy on the pocket, they might cost you more in the long-term. This is because the single glass offers very little insulation even with window blinds covering the glass. These windows let in cold in winter and can overheat in summer, forcing you to spend more on heating and cooling.

That being said, if you live in an area with mild weather throughout the year, your building probably only needs the bare minimal insulation, something single pane windows can provide.

In addition to the poor insulation, noise can easily pass through a single layer of glass. If you live in a busy area such as an airport or next to a park, single pane windows might not be enough to keep the noise away.

What is a double pane window?

What is a double pane window

More and more homes now boast double-pane windows. As you might have guessed, these windows feature two instead of one layer of glass, which are separated by argon gas. The gas provides enough insulation, allowing you to keep your building cool or warm as needed without the extra cost.

Additionally, the two glasses are coated with a low emissive glazing. Also known as low-e, this coating deflects heat away from the building in summer and retains heat in the winter, ensuring that your building is never too hot or too cold as the seasons change.

A stopper separates the two layers of glass. Underneath the stopper is a layer of sealant, which keeps the gas from leaking, ensuring consistent insulation for years to come.

Pros of double pane windows

Some advantages of double glass windows are:

  • Improved energy efficiency: Replacing single layer windows with double panes can improve your building’s energy efficiency significantly. On the whole, you might be able to save up to 30% on your energy bill annually.
  • Insulation from noise: Compared to single panes, double-layered windows let in less noise and can be god-sent if you live in a busy area. Window blinds will also come in handy for privacy in such neighborhoods.

Cons of double pane windows

There is no doubt that a double-layered window offers solid benefits where energy efficiency and cost-saving are concerned. However, they do not come cheap. Expect to pay up to $600 a piece for a standard double pane. The price tag can go as high as $800 to $1000 for premium quality windows.

It is also worth noting that you cannot replace or install one double pane window and expect to enjoy lower energy bills. To realize true energy efficiency, your entire building will need double panes, which can see the costs add up fast.

That being said, when you consider the cost-savings of 30% to 50% on your annual energy bill, it is easy to see that double-layered windows do pay for themselves in a few short years.

What to consider when choosing between single vs double pane windows

What to consider when choosing between single vs double pane windows

Double pane windows are all the rage but are they really worth it? The answer is, it depends. Before rushing to buy layered windows, some things to think about are:

Energy saving needs

Are you concerned about your skyrocketing energy bill? Your single pane windows could be the culprit. Replacing these with high quality double pane windows that offer better insulation might help you stay on top of your annual power expenses.

Age of windows

Old and leaky windows do not provide enough protection against weather elements. Your building could become too cold in winter and too hot in summer. Subsequently, this would require you to consume more energy on heating and cooling the building. If your windows are already in a poor state, replacing them with energy-efficient ones might be a smart move.

Geographical location

Double layered windows are handiest in areas that experience a wide variation of weather patterns. Indeed, they are designed to offer maximum protection against the elements while ensuring energy-efficiency.

On the other hand, if you live in an area with mild climate, installing expensive double panes might not make much of a noticeable difference. In this case, single hung windows should work just fine.


Lastly, we cannot ignore the money factor. The initial upfront cost of buying and installing double panes can be comparably high. However, you might want to consider the long-term cost-savings, especially if you are worried about your current high-energy bills.

There are plenty of ways to save on energy-efficient replacement windows. For example, if you are on a budget, you could opt for middle-of-the-road double panes instead of the high-end types. Avoiding unnecessary add-on features could also make double-layered windows more affordable.


When it comes to your building’s energy efficiency, windows play a big role. Single and double pane windows have their own upsides and downsides. However, if trimming your energy bill is a priority, double panes are the way to go.

Does your building have double layered windows? Have they helped you save on your power bill? We would love to hear from you! Leave us your comments and questions below.

Kumar Padilla

Monday 27th of July 2020

Hi, I have an affordable apartment project (1,800 units) and the budget is our main concern, however we would like to consider cost vs energy saving ($/M2) for the following options:

1. single pane window with low e glass vs. 2. double pane window with regular glass

What option would be better of this two considering our main concerns.