Double glazing can offer all kinds of benefits, including making your home look more attractive, making your home warmer, saving money on energy bills and even improving its value. But when you chose your double glazing, did you consider the acoustic properties? As the population of towns and cities continue to grow, many of us now live in busy, built up areas, on busy roads or near motorways and airports. For those affected, the choice of double glazed windows can have a huge impact on their quality of life and the amount of noise they are subjected to.

High noise levels can affect health

A recent study published in the European Heart Journal into how noise pollution affects us looked at five European countries and discovered that those who live near traffic noise are more likely to suffer high blood pressure. The research suggested that those who deal with noise levels of more than 50 decibels at night had a 6% higher risk of developing high blood pressure. This was the case even after the effects of increased air pollution were taken into account, as this article in the Guardian shows.

So it is clear that better sleep and less noise stress is not only good for our sense of well being, it can improve our health as well.

How does double glazing help?

Sound is a form of energy that enters our ears via sound waves. These waves are caused by molecules that vibrate in a gas, liquid or solid. Generally, the volume of sound is measured in decibels while the pitch is measured in hertz. Sound waves that have short wave profiles will be higher pitched than those with long profiles. It is thought that a comfortable level of sound is around 35 decibels during the day and 30 decibels at night and most road noise is considerably higher than this. In the UK there is no legal limit to road noise, however there is legislation that aims to reduce the noise created by roads, by regulating the amount of noise that a vehicle can emit – primarily tyre and exhaust noise.

By using acoustic glass or double glazing you can reduce the energy of these sound waves and reduce the amount of external noise that enters your home. But it does depend on the frequency of the sound you are trying to block and the type of double glazing you have chosen. The lower the frequency, the harder it can be to block the sound as high frequencies find it harder to pass through walls and windows. This does mean that the low frequency noise of traffic can be the hardest to block out. But by choosing the right window for your specific needs, you can greatly improve how much the noise is reduced.

What type of double glazing should I choose?

  • Use the thickest panes you can or even go for triple glazing. Pilkington glass is considered one of the better ones as it has a safety layer that adds to its ability to block sound.
  • Try to have a wide gap between each pane of glass as this makes it harder for the noise vibrations to jump from one pane to the next – this will be somewhat dependent on the profile of the wall the window is being installed into.
  • Use a window frame that is well insulated and ensure that there are no gaps after installation. You should also check your wall insulation around your window and elsewhere for the best results.
  • Ask for different thicknesses for each pane of glass and this impedes the sound waves by blocking out different frequencies
  • Ask your installer about acoustic glass that has been specially laminated for increased protection. See below for more on acoustic glass.
  • Choose “A” rated windows as these offer the best heat retaining properties and will therefore keep out the most noise. This rating is usually based on the space between the panes of glass and the thickness of the panes. Both of these aspects influence the amount of noise penetration too.

Acoustic glass

Acoustic glass offers improved noise pollution protection and will make a huge difference compared to simple double glazing. These panes are laminated with Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB) interlayers with two bonded pieces of glass. The sound waves have trouble penetrating this extra layer. This can be used on domestic and commercial buildings and is also a safety glass that provides protection from impact. You can have acoustic glass added as secondary glazing if you already have double glazing in place, but it should be at least 100mm from the existing window for best effect.

Acoustic glass is thought to increase the soundproofing potential of a window by up to 35 decibels which is substantial when it comes to road noise that is usually around 50 decibels. Of course, the cost will be higher for acoustic glass, but in the long term this may be a good solution if you are replacing your windows anyway. It is thought that acoustic glass compares favourably to triple glazing in terms of heat loss and noise.

The benefits of double glazing for noise reduction

  • As per the above-mentioned research you can expect lowered blood pressure and lower stress levels
  • You will sleep better, allowing you to function better during the day – lack of sleep is also associated with weight gain, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • You will be able to concentrate better and study will be improved for any children in the house
  • You won’t need to have your radios and televisions up so high to drown out the noise – thus increasing the noise inside your home.

Adding double glazing to your home isn’t just about keeping the heat in, it is also about keeping the noise out. With the right choices, you can have a long-term solution and feel happier and healthier.

If you are seriously considering upgrading your windows to help improve your insulation and the soundproofing of your home, then we can help you to get the best price possible, by helping you to compare quotes from a number of providers (without having to fill out lots of forms). By completing the quote form on our homepage, we’ll put you in touch with up to 3 reputable double glazing suppliers who we have pre-qualified as being able to supply double glazing in your area, and to your specific requirements. This means that you just need to complete one form, to get three different quotes from local and national installers.