Clear glass transmits up to 90% of solar radiation

Did you know that clear glass transmits up to 90% of solar radiation. It either absorbs or reflects only 10% of solar radiation.You would think since clear glass can transmit solar radiation in, it can also transmit it back. The beauty is that, it doesn’t, after solar radiation is transmitted through the glass and absorbed by the home, it is radiated again from the interior surfaces as infrared radiation.

Although glass allows solar radiation to pass through, it absorbs the infrared radiation. The glass then radiates part of that heat back to the home’s interior. In this way, glass traps solar heat entering the home. So that’s why many energy efficient homes have almost all glass walls or large windows.


Insulated Window Glazing or Glass

Insulated window glazing refers to windows with two or more panes of glass. They are also called double-glazed, triple-glazed, and—sometimes more generally—storm windows.

To insulate the window, the glass panes are spaced apart and hermetically sealed to form a single-glazed unit with an air space between each pane of glass. The glass layers and the air spaces resist heat flow. As a result, insulated window glazing primarily lowers the U-factor, but it also lowers the solar heat gain coefficient.

Some window manufacturers use spacers—which separate two panes of glass—that conduct heat less readily than others. These spacers can further lower a window’s U-factor.

Other technologies window manufacturers use to improve the energy performance of insulated glazing include these:

* Gas fills
* Low-emissivity coatings.

Source: EERE, U.S. Department of Energy

Low-Emissivity Window Glazing or Glass

Low-emissivity (Low-E) coatings on glazing or glass control heat transfer through windows with insulated glazing. Windows manufactured with Low-E coatings typically cost about 10%–15% more than regular windows, but they reduce energy loss by as much as 30%–50%.

A Low-E coating is a microscopically thin, virtually invisible, metal or metallic oxide layer deposited directly on the surface of one or more of the panes of glass. The Low-E coating reduces the infrared radiation from a warm pane of glass to a cooler pane, thereby lowering the U-factor of the window. Different types of Low-E coatings have been designed to allow for high solar gain, moderate solar gain, or low solar gain. A Low-E coating can also reduce a window’s visible transmittance unless you use one that’s spectrally selective.

To keep the sun’s heat out of the house (for hot climates, east and west-facing windows, and unshaded south-facing windows), the Low-E coating should be applied to the outside pane of glass. If the windows are designed to provide heat energy in the winter and keep heat inside the house (typical of cold climates), the Low-E coating should be applied to the inside pane of glass.

Window manufacturers apply Low-E coatings in either soft or hard coats. Soft Low-E coatings degrade when exposed to air and moisture, are easily damaged, and have a limited shelf life. Therefore, manufacturers carefully apply them in insulated multiple-pane windows. Hard Low-E coatings, on the other hand, are more durable and can be used in add-on (retrofit) applications. The energy performance of hard-coat, Low-E films is slightly poorer than that of soft-coat films.

Although Low-E coatings are usually applied during manufacturing, some are available for do-it-yourselfers. These films are inexpensive compared to total window replacements, last 10–15 years without peeling, save energy, reduce fabric fading, and increase comfort.

Source: EERE, U.S. Department of Energy