Argon Gas Filled Windows | Learn The Pros and Cons
When it comes to buying or replacing your windows, one of the primary concerns for most people, in addition to the style of window chosen, is how energy efficient the windows are. Argon gas filled windows are one way to increase the energy efficiency of your home windows.
That is one of the reasons many people consider the added expense of double or triple paned glass windows that are filled with argon gas. It is even possible to fill your existing windows with argon gas (even without replacing them) in order to increase energy efficiency and lower your energy costs.
The Pros and Cons of Argon Gas Filled Windows
There are pros and cons to argon gas window fills. Here are a few points to consider before making your decision:
Energy Efficient Options
Argon gas is one of the most popular types of gases used to fill the space between multi paned windows and is a good insulator. However, the incremental R-value, or measure of thermal resistance which indicates energy efficiency, may only increase by a half of a point over unfilled windows. Adding a low-e coating to the window glass may do more to increase energy efficiency because it reduces solar heat gain, while argon gas does nothing to reduce the transmission of infrared radiation or ultraviolet light.
While windows filled with argon gas will provide some increased energy efficiency, the cost is increased as well. With the push towards increased energy efficiency, most new or replacement windows offered by quality manufacturers today all use argon filled glass and many do not provide other options, so the point is somewhat moot. Where you need to make a bigger decision about the comparison of increased cost vs. increased efficiency is in existing windows that you are considering having filled with argon gas. In many cases, it is not cost effective to spend the money to simply fill your existing windows with argon gas because the energy savings you will enjoy will not cover the initial cost for quite a long time.
Most insulated glass windows have an R-value between 2.0 and 3.0 and filling the space between the panes with argon gas only raises that number by about a half a point. While any increase to the R-value is beneficial, the increased efficiency may not warrant the increased price in some cases.
UV Light and Infrared Radiation
Although argon gas can provide more insulation and therefore somewhat increased energy efficiency in your home, the addition of argon gas within your window panes cannot block the transmission of UV light or infrared radiation. What does this mean to you? It means that the UV rays from the sun can still cause fading to your furniture, rugs and drapes and solar radiation can still increase the temperature of your home during the warmer months. A low-e coating is a more effective way to block out the damaging UV light and infrared radiation and can measurably reduce the amount of solar heat gain through your windows.
Weighing Costs vs Benefits
In general, the extra incremental costs of some energy efficient features, such as argon gas fills or low-e window coatings outweigh the benefits of increased energy efficiency. However, with an eye toward energy efficient home solutions these days, many new windows only come with these options as standard features. Also, it is worth considering whether you can get any type of government incentive or tax break when selecting windows with these energy efficient options, because if they are available, then the incentives can offset part or all of the incremental initial costs, leaving you to just reap the ongoing savings offered by the more efficient windows