The Benefits of Gas-Filled Windows, Explained

Many of today’s replacement windows are gas-filled – that is, they employ a clear gas between the window panes. Relative to the air we breathe, these gases are denser and don’t conduct heat as well. As a result, these gases minimize any heat exchange between outdoors and in; they make windows more effective at helping to maintain a comfortable interior when its very hot or cold outside.

The gas most commonly used in windows is argon, and it’s very well suited to the task. Argon is colorless, odorless, and completely harmless. It’s almost a third more dense than the air we breathe, and conducts heat about half as well. And as one of the most abundant gases in our atmosphere, argon is in the air we breathe and all around us.

While argon is not a new addition to windows, its use has been gaining in popularity; as more homeowners realize the important role windows can play in energy-efficiency, this trend is bound to continue. The use of argon has become a stronger selling point, and windows from Renewal by Andersen as well as several other top manufacturers regularly highlight the use of argon in their windows.

Argon isn’t the only gases that can be used to improve window insulation; krypton and xenon are two other solid options. Both of these gases are denser than argon, and offer a bit better insulation; but neither gas is as common, or as inexpensive, as argon. Of the three gases, argon’s benefit relative to its low cost make it the most popular choice in windows.

Double pane windows already provide better protection from outside noise than single pane windows; and double pane windows that also employ an insulating gas deliver even better soundproofing. Think of the denser gas as a cushion that softens unwanted outside noise.

Gas-filled windows not only provide insulation, but reduce drafts. When the window and the interior of your home are of two very different temperatures, this can result in drafts and cold spots near the window. Gas-filled windows maintain a similar temperature to the one in your home, reducing drafts and keeping you more comfortable.

Windows filled with argon offer few drawbacks. They are slightly more expensive than comparable windows filled with regular air. And windows using argon (or other insulating gases) must have reliable, long-lasting seals; if a seal fails, the argon will leak out, and the benefits that argon provides will be gone. As argon is odorless and colorless, the only sign of the leak would be the same condensation that occurs anytime a window seal breaks.

If you’re considering replacing your windows, be sure to consider options that use gas to provide better insulation. Generally speaking, windows that do use gas only cost a few tens of dollars more than windows that don’t. The savings in energy and money that gas-filled windows yield should easily pay for the cost of the upgrade.