Double-Hung vs. Single-Hung Windows: Which is Better?

It’s time to make the tough choice between single-hung and double-hung windows, choosing the right window type depends on your budget and the features you need for your home.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the differences and advantages of double-hung and single-hung windows to help you make an informed decision for your next home renovation project to avoid overspending.

What are Single-Hung Windows?

single hung vs double hung window movement

Single hung windows are the older/traditional style of window.

While they don’t have all the bells and whistles of double-hung windows, they are by no means bad and get the job done. Single-hung windows have one moving piece, just the bottom half. In the window industry, they call it the “bottom sash”.

A “sash” is a part of the window that’s movable.

The top part of the window does not move and is locked in place. When you see homes with windows where only the bottom is open, it’s most likely a single-hung window.

Single-hung windows tend to be more energy efficient because the top sash is fixed and doesn’t allow any air to pass through. They also have less parts that can go bad over time.

Pros and Cons of a Single-Hung Window

Slightly more affordableMore difficult to clean
Higher securityWorse air circulation
Better energy-efficiencyRiskier for children and pets
Less air leak

What are Double-Hung Windows?

double hung vinyl window

A double-hung window has two moving pieces. Both the top and bottom half of the window can be moved up and down.

It has a lock on the inside, and then you can either slide the bottom sash up or push the upper sash down.

Double-hung windows also allow you to tilt the sashes. This makes it convenient to clean the outside of your windows from the inside of your home.

This means no climbing ladders to reach windows on the second story or going out in heat in the middle of summer to clean your windows.

It is commonly said that single-hung windows are more budget-friendly than double-hung windows.

However, in my experience replacing our full house with double-hung windows, the cost difference between single-hung and double-hung was negligible since we were paying for the functionality of the window. The biggest cost different was having an operable window vs. a picture window.

Pros and Cons of a Double-Hung Window

Pros Cons
Better air ventilationMore expensive to install
Safer for children and petsMore difficult to close and lock properly
Easier to cleanMore potential for faulty seals
Easier to repairMore air leaks

What is the Difference Between Double-Hung and Single-Hung Windows?

Single-Hung WindowDouble-Hung Window
Moving Sashes12
Ease of CleaningNeed to go outside of house to clean outside of windowCan be tilted to clean easily from inside of home
CostSlightly cheaperMore expensive
Energy EfficiencyMore efficient because only one moving pieceLess efficient due to 2 moving pieces
VentilationSmaller due to only being able to open the bottomLarger because you can allow air on top and bottom
SizesSmaller sizesLarger sizes available

From the outside, it is very difficult to tell the difference between a single-hung and double-hung window when they’re closed, However, the functionality of them differ greatly.

The largest difference between the two types of windows is the amount of moving sashes. Because of this, you get all these other effects as well, such as ventilation differences, cost differences, and energy efficiency differences.

Double-hung windows offer better ventilation for your home. If you open the top and bottom of your windows, the warm air will rise and allow cool air to enter through the bottom.

The ventilation makes double hung better for milder climates where you’re more likely to have your windows open and when you rely less on air conditioning.

With double-hung, there is more room for failure with more moving parts. Faulty seals or air leakage is more common with double-hung windows as the additional moving parts are a “failure point” over a long enough time horizon.

Note: Single hung windows can be cleaned from the inside of your home if you tilt the bottom sash. This allows you to reach outside to clean the top sash. This could be a dangerous activity if you live in a multi-story home, as it requires you to stick your torso out of the window.

Which is Cheaper? Single-Hung or Double-Hung Windows?

On average, a single-hung window are cheaper. When you browse your local home improvement store, you’ll see that single-hung windows vary between $100-$400 per window.

Double-hung windows will be anywhere between $300-$600 per window.

This is if you’re just buying the window by itself and plan on doing the work yourself as well.

There are other things to consider such as the cost of taking out and disposing your old windows, installing the new windows, making sure it fits properly, and caulking to seal the window in place.

For homes with window shapes of varying sizes or homes with 20+ windows, it would make sense to contact a local contractor or a window professional who has done lots of big window replacement projects so you can feel confident about your new windows.

Windows are meant to last 15-30 years, and you want that to be on the upper end. Our house had 32 windows when we did window replacements from single-pane windows to double-pane windows, and it took the crew 4 days total. I cannot imagine doing the job myself or even knowing where to start.

If you’re handy and have experience or are replacing a single window, it might make more sense to DIY.

Is it Easier to Repair a Single-Hung Window vs a Double-Hung Window?

A double-hung window is easier to repair because there are 2 moving sashes. However, more moving parts also means that the frequency of repair might be higher with double-hung windows.

When a single-hung window breaks, you’ll have to hire a professional such as a glazier to come and fix it. A glazier is a professional in cutting and fitting glass. This is because the top sash is fixed. The bottom sash can be removed and replaced. Perhaps you can even buy the replacement window sash and do it yourself for the moving piece.

Double-Hung Vs Single-Hung Windows for Hot Climates

Double-hung windows are better for hot climates because you can open up the top sash to let the warm air out.

The ventilation overall is better. If you have pets or children, you also get the option to only open up the top sash, so your animals don’t jump out.

When it comes to energy-efficiency, double-hung and single-hung windows are very close. They are both rated similarly. The only difference is that a double-hung window could lead to more faulty air seals over a long period of time.

Energy Savings with Double-Hung Vs Single-Hung Windows

With replacement windows, comparing single-pane to double-pane, you’ll see an energy savings on your electricity bill anywhere between 10%-50% on average.

However, the difference between a single-hung and a double-hung window is very minimal.

There are many other factors outside of new windows that affect your energy bill such as your roof color, your insulation, air seals, and more.

Instead of replacing all of your windows, you might want to look at doing any of the following instead:

  • Check existing windows for faulty seals or air leaks.
  • Recaulking the areas around your windows.
  • Add blinds or shutters.
  • Using blackout curtains on windows that get the most sunlight in your home.
  • Look into getting window coverings.

However, if your windows are over 20 years old, it is recommend that they get replaced. Upgrading your old windows to new ones will help drastically with noise reduction as well. The Low E coating on newer windows also reduces UV rays from entering your home.

Are Double-Hung Windows Worth it?

tilting feature of a double-hung window

Many people will recommend double-hung windows because of the optionality. However, if you are a homeowner on a budget and just want to upgrade your 30 year old windows, single-hung windows are a viable option.

If you are worried about young children or animals escaping through window openings or getting hurt, then getting double-hung windows will give you greater peace of mind.

It’s not an all-or-nothing answer because you do have the option to do a combination of the two types of windows. For example, in a living area where you know you’ll want to open up the windows to allow more airflow, it might make sense to get double-hung windows in that area.

Then for other areas you won’t frequent, single-hung windows can go there to save you some more money. In the upstairs rooms, it’s recommend to do double-hung windows just to save money with professional window cleaning. You can then just tilt them inside and clean them yourself easily when it’s needed.

Every home and every family has their own circumstances and their own situation. There is no black-and-white answer, despite what people may tell you.

Have a talk with your family to discuss your budget and where you spend more time in your home. Do you see yourself opening certain windows and never opening others? What about window cleaning? What about kids and pets?

Should You Get Single-Hung or Double-Hung Windows?

It doesn’t have to be an all-in kind of answer. You can pick and choose where you want single-hung windows or double-hung windows.

Places that have harder to reach tops such as the window behind the kitchen sink can be single-hung windows. It’s very difficult to reach far and push down the top sash for those locations.

For places where you think you’ll be opening your windows more often, it might be better to opt for double-hung windows.

If you have a multi-story home, having double-hung windows for those upstairs windows would also make the cleaning process much easier rather than hiring a professional twice a year to do it for you.

There are also more options, such as horizontal slider windows for wide windows on the first story.

It really is up to you. Contacting a local professional, discussing your options, and hearing their recommendations is very helpful to get a good overview of different replacement window options for your house.

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