Sirens at three O'clock in the morning and drafts coming from somewhere, windows can be the bane of an otherwise beautiful house. With new advances in the technology behind them, noise reduction windows have become far more economically viable, and have shown clear signs of reducing not only noise, but energy consumption.
There are plenty of treatments that you can add to your windows in the form of films, and noise reducing curtains in order to block out the racket from the street. The thing is that these only offer stop gap solutions; no one wants to be sat inside on a sunny day with the curtains drawn, just to stop the sound of cars entering their house. The best, long term and all-round solution is to replace the windows themselves.
So how do they work? Sound travels in a pressure wave, so when it hits a window pane it causes the glass to reverberate. When both panes (in a double glazed window) are the same thickness, they reverberate at the same frequency and thereby only go some way to ensuring noise reduction. When the panes are of a different thickness, the glass will vibrate at different frequencies, thereby further distorting the noise level and preventing sound pollution in your home.
Buying these windows can be a confusing process, as many companies offer a range of products and will amboozle you with jargon and slogans. One issue that may be thrown up is the benefits of triple vs. double glazing. Whilst it's obvious that single glazing loses out to double, is the same true for three panes? The simple answer is no, not always. If the double paned windows offer a complete air tight seal, then the triples cannot improve upon this. The next issue which arises is thermal insulation. Whilst three panes can offer greater insulation, double glazed windows will offer the same prevention of heat loss if:
- They are coated the panes are coated in heat-efficient coverings.
- Buffered by more energy efficient gases between each sheet of glass.
- The pane-spacers contain no metal.
And as such the doubles may in fact offer greater thermal insulation. If, however, your greatest concern in the amount of noise entering and leaving your house then triple glazed windows may in fact be the way to go. The thing to pay attention to in this case is the STC (Sound Transmission Class) of the window, where single pane glass offers a typical value of 27 on the STC scale, whereas soundproof windows over a dual pane window deliver a typical value of 40DB.
Furthermore, noise reduction windows ought to be evaluated in regards to their energy efficiency. With reports confirming that you can save up to £170 a year on energy bills, windows with a rating of B or higher are a must have. This can not only lead to extra money in your bank at the end of the year, but can offset your carbon footprint by, on average, 680kg every 365 days.
Whilst a major concern with old single glazed windows is that they simply let in too much noise, there is a shining problem with energy efficiency that they have also inherited. Often new double glazed, energy efficient windows, will offer a marked 30% increase in heat preservation compared to the old brand.
Poorly constructed, or often times simply old, doors and windows will let in drafts causing heat loss during the winter months. Whilst stop-gap options such as draft excluders can help curb this issue, the only sure fire way to deal with it is to get replacement windows.
The outmoded single glazed unit used to be this country's staple; from the ubiquitous bay-windows of Victorian era houses to the two-up two-down terraces. Most new builds are instead fitted with double glazed for a variety of reasons:
- The technology required to construct double glazed windows has advanced and costs have fallen.
- They offer significantly greater guarding from noise pollution.
- They offer a far larger reduction in energy loss.
To give you some figures, let's consider a typical house in the UK. Replacing single with double glazed windows you can expect a saving of, on average, £170 on the heating bill. This is not only cost efficient, meaning that there's extra money in the kitty every year, but also goes some way to lowering your carbon footprint: in terms of emissions, this saving off-puts around 680kg of carbon dioxide per annum.
Double glazing units achieve this by maximising their insulating efficiency - by creating the optimum space between the two panes and filling it with heavier gases such as Xenon, Argon and Sulfur Hexafluoride (though the latter is a large contributor to greenhouse emissions and is best avoided). If the space between the glass is too large, this allows for convection currents of the room to pass into the insulating gas, and eventually for heat transfer out of the building. Too thin and the heat is lost via diffusion between the panes. Alternatively vacuum filled, hermetically sealed double glazing units are manufactured that eliminate heat loss due to convection, though this technology brings with it its own problems such as increased stress across the glass and costs.
When buying double glazing the main thing to be aware of is the Window Energy Rating (WER), which is a scale that runs from A (the best) down to G. Although double glazing with an A rating will be considered to offer optimal heat insulation, most windows with a rating of C are considered to be energy efficient, with the better rated only offering slight increments in energy efficiency.
One drawback that might put some off replacing their single with double glazed windows is the aesthetic. Everywhere we go we see the white uPVC frames that most homes have installed. These cheaper frames won't suit the look of many houses and may interfere with the décor. However this needn't be a concern as aluminium and bespoke wooden frames are also available kitted out with energy saving double panes that will better suit individual tastes.
Our line of bespoke soundproof windows is one of our most popular especially with our London based clients who are often kept awake by overhead planes, traffic or nightlife. Whilst it’s great to live as close to the city as possible, the reality of noise pollution is a genuine struggle and we’re delighted we can help by installing a total solution.
However, we do get a lot of inquiries from people asking just how much of a difference soundproof windows make. The fact is that noise and sound levels are a complicated science based on a logarithmic scale which can be really quite confusing if you’re not mathematically minded. So the question is, what difference can you expect from installing soundproof windows?
Measured in decibels, sound is a pressure wave that propagates through the air. Don’t worry, this is as scientific as we’re going. The more power in the wave, the louder the sound.
The decibel scale, like the richter scale, increases as a multiple ten. If you say a sound of 10 dB has a power value of 10, a sound of 20 dB has a power value of a 100 - it follows that a noise of 30 dB has a power value of 1,000.
Still a little confused? Our noise reduction explanation below should help:
As you can see from our soundproof windows infographic, installing our total solution guarantees a whopping reduction in noise pollution of at least 1000%, often offering far greater reduction based upon the bespoke system installed for your property.
There’s not really any better way to demonstrate the effectiveness of noise reduction windows than to show them in action, so have a quick look at the video below in order to truly understand the effects of soundproof windows on a busy London street.
Staggering, isn’t it? The hum drum of inner city life becomes inaudible and a stillness permeates through the property. If you suffer from the nuisance of noise pollution we can genuinely say that there isn’t a better product around to deal with the problem.
If you’re interested in finding out more, get in touch with us and we’ll arrange a free consultation!
Also, why not download a FREE copy of our catalogue by simply clicking on the link below!
Image by Arpingstone