Fitting secondary glazing

Last updated Wednesday 30 April 2008

More panes, more gain

Do your windows let noise in and heat out? If double glazing is unsuitable or unaffordable, secondary glazing is your next best bet.

Secondary glazing adds a second sheet of glass or plastic to a window frame, improving thermal and sound insulation. Similar in principle to double glazing, it's generally cheaper but less effective. Even so, done well, it could still knock up to 65 a year off your heating bill.

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Photo: Fitting secondary glazing

Saves about 500kg of CO2 a year per household

99 Bloomers are doing this

CO2 reduction 2 out of 5

Cheapness 4 out of 5

Popularity 2 out of 5

Cost 1,200 - 2,000

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How will it make a difference?

Pub Fact

  • The average household could save around two tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year by making their home energy efficient
  • A fifth of your home's heat is lost through the windows, and a single-glazed window can lose 14 times as much heat as the same area of well-insulated wall
  • Professionally installed secondary glazing could save you as much as 65 a year in heating bills, and cut your CO2 emissions by up to half a tonne - not as impressive as the 740kg a year double glazing could save, but exactly one hundred times more CO2 than avoiding plastic bags for a year
  • Make sure the gap between the secondary glazing and the original window pane is at least 100mm and you can screen out noisy neighbours too
  • It can reduce condensation

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How do I do it?

There are two approaches to secondary glazing, both of them DIY-friendly, however to get the highest savings, professionally installed secondary glazing might be the best option. The more expensive and effective version involves fitting an aluminium frame around the window recess to hold glass panes that can be slid or tilted to open.

The cheaper option is a plastic film fixed with double-sided tape and shrunk to fit with a hairdryer. These are only intended for a single season's insulation.

For even better results, close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and, if you don't have them already, consider installing cavity wall insulation, loft insulation and draught proofing, all of which save more heat than secondary glazing.

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What's stopping me?

"How do I get the window open?"

It rather depends on what sort of secondary glazing you fit, but it is important you can still get at the original window - whether it's for ventilation in summer or, in an emergency, as an exit. If you're fitting glass or plastic that doesn't allow you easy access it might be worth leaving one or two windows untreated as possible fire escapes.

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Mrs Thomas 2009-02-18

I live in a grade 11 listed building. I used a company called Access Plastics in West yorkshire. They supplied the perspex panels cut to size and in kit form- very easy to fit. Glass clear and extremely effective - and best of all not expensive - no where near the cost of double glazing even if the planning would have allowed it!

Charl, Sheffield 2009-01-29

I have a listed building in a conservation area, so secondary glazing was my only option. I contacted Granada Secondary Glazing via their website.

Anonymous 2008-12-10

Really straight forward. I got the company who supplied it (Omegabuild) to cut the panels to size for me. So all I had to do was to cut the magnetic strips and put in place. It's really effective and very unobstrusive.

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Glossary terms used on this page
CO2, or carbon dioxide, is made up of the elements carbon and oxygen. It exists quite naturally in our atmosphere, as part of the carbon cycle. Everyday processes in the plant and animal world both add CO2 to the atmosphere and take it out. However, because it is a greenhouse gas - meaning it affects the temperature of the earth - the exact level of CO2 is important. Burning fossil fuels releases CO2 into the atmosphere, hence the anxiety that extensive use of these fuels is causing climate change.
Emissions are the CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) produced by energy use, usually calculated and stated as an annual tally: also referred to as your carbon footprint. Your personal emissions can be direct - such as the gas you personally use to heat your home or the petrol you burn to power your car - or indirect - meaning the energy use that has gone into the products or services you buy. The latter, such as the emissions caused by the manufacture of your new TV, or the packaging your food comes in, are also referred to as embodied emissions.
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