Stained glass windows give a home charm and character, but unfortunately, they aren't the best option when it comes to choosing energy efficient windows. If you love your stained glass windows, but hate their impact on your energy bill, there are some ways that you can make them more energy-friendly. Of course, you can also replace them with newer, more modern windows, too. Should you replace your home's stained glass windows? Here are some options to help you decide.


Stained glass windows can sometimes be made to be more energy efficient through the same weatherproofing techniques used to make plain windows more efficient. Caulk applied to the edges of the windows and sash can help reduce drafts and fill tiny cracks and holes that allow air to escape. Heavy curtains can help reduce winter chills, and cementing the stained glass can help keep it waterproof through the winter, too.


Another way to protect stained glass windows and make them more energy efficient is to have them double or even triple-glazed. The process typically involves having the original stained glass windows removed and cleaned. The clean windows are then sealed between sheets of glass and sealed to complete the double-glazing process. This can preserve the look of the stained glass and allow you to install the "new" window in an aluminum or vinyl frame, further increasing its energy efficiency. The process lets you get the benefits of double-glazing with the traditional look of stained glass, and is a popular way to keep the decorative glass safe in older homes.

This method can have its problems. If moisture develops between the panes of glass, condensation could occur and lead to mold growth on the stained glass. Some critics of the method argue that double-glazing can damage historical stained glass, particularly if the glass is painted. It can also cause a buildup of corrosive salt deposits on the lead used in the stained glass windows.

Window specialists may recommend having ventilation built into the double-glazing on your windows to prevent condensation and damage from occurring.

Faux stained glass

There are some companies that sell treatments for plain windows to make them appear as though they are stained glass. These range in design and some can be used, removed and reused as you like. These aren't as convincing an option as traditional stained glass windows, but they offer a level of flexibility that can easily be appreciated, especially since they can be used on modern, energy efficient windows.

Adding a clear window in front of a stained glass one

As an alternative to double-glazing the stained glass windows, this may be the most flexible option. Have the existing stained glass windows removed and cleaned, and have new plain double-glazed windows installed in their place. Then, have the original stained glass installed directly behind the new windows. This gives you the look of stained glass with the energy efficiency of modern double-glazing. Plus, the stained glass panels can be safely removed, if needed.

Before deciding to do away with your stained glass windows altogether, consider your home's age and design. Older homes that originally had stained glass in the windows may not look as good with just plain modern windows. If you plan on reselling the home, removing stained glass completely could lower the value of the house. Modern windows may detract from the overall look of the home, or they could enhance it.

If you live in an older home, you may want to contact your local preservation commission before making any drastic changes to the windows in your home. They will be able to advise you on the best style of windows for your home, and likely direct you to a window company that can complete the job.

Thanks to the wide variety of options available, you may not have to sacrifice energy efficiency for beauty. Ask your local window replacement company for their recommendations, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the options you are offered.