The Q&A Archives: Energy Efficient Windows And Houseplants

Question: We will be installing new windows throughout our home and are considering top of the line, energy efficient triple glazed windows. (We live in the prairies.)

Upon reviewing the specs for all the energy efficient windows, as the insulating values rise, the amount of UV transmitted by the window drops. My concern is that my houseplants will not get enough UV light for healthy survival. Is there a known UV level required, or less scientificaly, what experience have others had with high tech windows and houseplants?

The data I have says clear double glazed windows transmit 57% UV whereas triple glazed Low E, argon filled transmit 37-25% of UV.

Answer: Interesting question! According to a botany textbook I consulted,

"Except for the direct effects of heat, the infrared and ultraviolet rays of the sun that reach the earth's surface have little or no apparent influence on plant growth. Plants grow just as well under glass (which filters out most of the ultraviolet) as in the open, if other conditions are suitable."

Light intensity is, I think, the most important factor to consider here. It's possible that new, triple glazed window will actually transmit more light than old double pane windows, especially if the old ones have any dust or condensation between the panes. In any case, I wouldn't be concerned about your houseplants. They'll appreciate the less drafty conditions!

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