Pros and Cons: Single vs Double Hung Windows Explained

A white-framed double window set in a white shingle wall, with cross-muntin bars in both panes.

Did you know that the right type of window is the key to improving your home’s energy efficiency? According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, windows contribute to about 8.6 percent of a property’s energy consumption.

Windows are sometimes called “thermal holes” because they typically are 10 times less energy efficient than the wall they’re installed on. Homes that don’t have the right type of window installation could lose approximately 30 percent of heat or air conditioning because of poor insulation.

If you’re looking to choose new windows to improve comfort and sustainability, you’ll come across two prominent varieties – single-hung and double-hung windows. Choosing one option or the other depends on the climate, your living conditions, and other goals you have in mind for the home upgrade project.

This detailed guide will explore different window types and provide information on:

  • The primary differences between single and double-hung windows
  • The biggest advantages of single-hung windows (and their shortcomings)
  • The best aspects of double-hung windows (and their shortcomings)
  • How to make the perfect choice, based on your property characteristics, climate, and budget
  • Ways to compare various style options

An exterior view of the upper portion of a house with dark shingles and white trim, featuring a peaked roof and several windows.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Window Type

Many things will depend on the selection of the right replacement windows for your home. The type you go for will impact the following:

  • The ease of window installation
  • The affordability of the project
  • Ease of operation (opening and closing the windows), as well as security
  • Energy efficiency and minimization of heat loss
  • Ease of cleaning and maintenance
  • Window opening adjustments and the ability to personalize the model
  • Having the largest possible space when the window is fully opened
  • Ensuring your privacy

Curious to learn about different types of windows? You’ll want to read From Classic to Contemporary: Types of Windows for Every Home.

Let’s find out how single and double-hung windows correspond to each of these goals.

A room with white walls, five large wooden-framed windows, a hardwood floor, and a decorative crown molding near the ceiling.

Pros and Cons of Single-Hung Windows

The key differences between single and double-hung windows stem from the number of operable sashes. Single-hung windows have a stationary upper sash and a moveable sash at the bottom. That bottom sash can be raised to open the window and improve airflow throughout the home.

A few important advantages of single-hung windows include:

  • A more affordable option and easier to install than double-hung windows
  • Since there’s only one movable sash, these windows have a better energy efficiency rating
  • A single-sash window is more secure because there’s only one possible point of entry
  • A popular choice, single-hung windows are available in many varieties to accommodate different aesthetic preferences
  • A classic type of window that gives the home a more traditional look
  • One of the most space-efficient options on the market

On the downside:

  • Since there’s only one movable sash, these windows are more difficult to clean
  • Less adequate ventilation than in the case of a double-hung window
  • If damage occurs, it can be challenging to repair or replace
  • Potential aesthetic limitations because the upper sash is fixed (may not blend perfectly with different architectural styles)

A two-story house with a mix of beige siding, red brick, and white trim, featuring several windows and a gable roof under a blue sky with some clouds.

Pros and Cons of Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows are possibly the most popular type on the market. Super versatile and excellent for airflow control, they are often preferred for new home installations and property upgrades.

Double-hung windows have two movable sashes, which means they can be opened either from the top or the bottom. The main benefits of choosing this design include:

  • The double-hung style window guarantees optimal ventilation and airflow control
  • Easier to clean, especially if you have the windows installed on the upper floors
  • Can be safer for families having young children
  • Great for a home with a more traditional aesthetic (the historic aesthetic of this variety is well-recognized)

Before opting for double sash windows, however, don’t forget to consider some shortcomings and limitations:

  • More expensive (single-hung windows tend to be about 10 to 20 percent more affordable than a comparable double-hung model)
  • The movable components could lead to reduced energy efficiency
  • Since there are more movable parts, the risk of damaging a component due to careless operation is increased
  • Could be more difficult to close correctly, hence they are considered a bit less secure

A hand gripping a white handle is opening a glass window, with an outdoor scene visible in the background.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Home: Common Scenarios

Now that you have all this information, should you opt for a double-hung or single-hung window variety? The question lacks a universal answer. Picking one variety or the other will depend on a couple of important factors. Before buying, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Cost comparison: The cost of the window matters, especially if you’re a budget-conscious homeowner. The cost of installation will also have to be considered. The cost of long-term maintenance is equally important. Single-hung windows are less expensive to buy and install but their maintenance and repairs could be costlier.
  • Difference in ventilation: This is probably the biggest thing to consider. Double-hung windows are created for increased ventilation, which makes them good for warm climates. The design allows for cold air to come through the bottom sashes while hot air escapes through the top ones. Single-hung windows are best for ventilating lower floors, the ground floor, and the basement.
  • What’s the best choice for energy efficiency: The design differences also result in energy efficiency discrepancies between the two varieties. Single-hung windows are the top choice for homeowners who want optimal energy efficiency. If you’re interested in double-hung windows, pay attention to the window frame material. Fiberglass single-hung and double-hung window varieties are considered highly energy efficient. Vinyl has similar properties. Wood-clad windows can eventually lead to drafts.
  • Aesthetic considerations: There are beautiful single-hung and double-hung windows on the market. If you’d like to have more variety in terms of designs, double-hung windows will be the way to go.
  • Ease of cleaning and maintenance: Anyone who wants to keep their windows in pristine condition should opt for double-hung windows. Their design makes them much easier to clean. Single-hung windows are a good choice for ground floors.

Go deeper into your research about the best type of window for your home. Read Single Pane or Double Pane Windows: Which is Right for Your Home?

A woman holding a red mug sits on a blue ottoman, looking out a large window, surrounded by plants and a drawing board in a bright room.

Milwaukee Window Guys: Why Picking the Right Window Installation Service Matters

Apart from selecting the right variety, you’ll also need to select an installation team that has enough experience. Poor installation will decrease both energy efficiency and functionality, even if you’ve picked the most expensive model on the market.

The Milwaukee Window Guys believe in the importance of adequate product selection and a personalized approach toward home improvement. We can guide you every step of the way, allowing you to pick the right window style for your property upgrade.

We always prioritize US handmade products that come with a lifetime warranty. You’ll benefit from expert installation, giving you beautiful windows to last you decades. Get in touch today!