Insulated windows have become massively popular with homeowners due to their ability to lower energy bills and maximize home comfort. The ingenious combination of coated UV-filtering glass panes, sealed gas insulation and customized comfort-saving additions can increase efficiency by up to 35%. While it is common knowledge that the coated glass panes in energy-efficient windows have UV-filtering properties, most homeowners have no idea that an invisible gas is sealed tight between the two insulated glass panes in the window. This gas is the invisible, odorless and non-toxic Argon. If you, like many of us, didn’t pay exceptionally close attention in Chemistry 101, allow us to explain both what Argon is and how the gas works within your windows to keep your home warm in the winter and cooler in the hot summer months.
Argon, a naturally occurring noble gas, takes atomic number 18 on the periodic table of elements. Its role in insulating energy-efficient windows is fairly simple to explain. As an inert gas, Argon’s shells are at capacity with no free electrons to transfer heat energy. (Basically, it’s happy just being Argon and won’t react with other elements) While the coated windowpanes may repel heat radiation from sunlight, heat can still be transferred through conduction and convection. When heat from either form of transfer reaches the dense and unreactive layer of Argon between windowpanes, it is stopped or bounced away. Whether the hot air is trying to seep out or into the house, the Argon gas has no need to react and cannot transfer it. These insulating abilities give Argon-filled double pane windows a higher R-Value (the measure of thermal resistance) and therefore a lower U-Factor (the rate at which heat is lost).
Some insulated windows, like the SolarZone model from Window World, offer brand-specific additions to increase efficiency. The SolarZone space interceptors not only add to your home comfort by keeping the window panes at a much warmer temperature, but they also prevent the sealant that holds the Argon inside from breaking during temperature related expansion and contraction. Again, Argon is unreactive and poses no threat if it was ever released, but losing it to a leak would decrease the efficiency of your windows.
See, chemistry can be cool! Or, if energy savings don’t get you all amped to check out the periodic table, chemistry can be helpful! Window seats don’t have to be uncomfortable during the summer and winter, and your air conditioner shouldn’t have to work double time to keep up with the loss or bombardment of heated air. With the help of Argon’s insulating properties, energy-efficient windows can improve your home comfort and rescue your bank account from sky-high energy bills.