How Will Installing Low-E Replacement Windows Affect Your House Plants?

Shopping for replacement windows for your home--at a place like Miller Roofing & Guttering Inc.--may feel overwhelming due to the sheer amount of choices for frame material, glass type, glazing method, architectural style, and more. However, putting off the task of choosing replacements for too long could leave your old windows leaky, unattractive, and energy inefficient. Windows also affect far more than just how much light comes into the home. Consider how efficient Low-E windows could affect your house plants before choosing them for your project.

Low-E Glass Purpose

Windows of practically any style and type can be fitted with Low-E glass, which stands for low emissivity. This name refers to the fact that the glass is coated with an invisible layer of reflective material to bounce only certain parts of the light spectrum away. Controlling what kind of light enters the glass results in less fading of the furniture and carpeting of the rooms, reduces the amount of heat entering through induction through the glass, and can even prevent you from getting a sunburn when you're reading by direct natural light. Low-E glass is becoming less expensive and more common with each year, and many homeowners are encouraged by local utilities to try them as a home energy improvement.

House Plant Light Needs

Each variety of house plant has its own specific light needs, so there's no way to say for sure that Low-E windows are a good match for all house plants. However, the majority of plants grown indoors require less direct and intense light than those grown outdoors for flowers and fruit. This means that even though the light coming through Low-E glass is partially limited, it likely won't have a big effect on your plants. Plants grown for leaves alone tend to need less light than flowering plants, although there are notable exceptions to this as well like croton and many cacti.

Blocked Spectrum

Although each manufacturer has their own specifications, most Low-E glass targets UV and infrared parts of the light spectrum specifically. UV rays are known for damaging skin, fading furnishings, and causing many other problems. Reducing both UVA and UVB radiation makes it a lot safer to sit in front of a window on a sunny day to increase your Vitamin D levels.

House plants don't generally need UV rays, although they can make good use of them when they are absorbing them outdoors or through regular glass. In general, plants will at worst grow more slowly or flower less often behind Low-E glass but should not suffer any more serious effects. These windows still allow at least 75% of total light to pass through, which should be more than enough for the most commonly grown house plants. If you're an avid outdoor gardener and enjoy starting seeds on a sunny windowsill, this may not work as well after installing new Low-E windows.

Warmth Control

Infrared light isn't absorbed directly as light but rather as heat, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the specific plant.  While reducing the infrared light that could be heating up your home does save you money on cooling bills in the summer, it reduces the amount of natural warmth you're gaining in the window.

If you're used to relying on the direct warming effect of infrared rays to keep your plants warm when indoor temperatures a little cool for them, switching to Low-E windows could result in dead plants due to the reduced warming effect. Unless you're designing a sunroom that must stay warm on its own due to the greenhouse effect of a glass enclosure, losing this small amount of heat likely won't affect your plant growing plants.