A lot of factors come into play when deciding on upgrades for a house. There are a lot of ways to improve the aesthetic of a home or to improve its efficiency. Many homeowners, however, do not feel as if they are making this type of decision when it comes to their windows. They often choose a window for convenience reasons, or because a particular model looks better than another. Double and triple glazed windows, however, offer homeowners a chance to significantly improve the energy efficiency of their home. This benefit, as well as their initial cost needs to be considered when making an informed window choice. This guide can help you through deciding whether or not triple glazed widows are worth their cost.
As a person navigates the type of windows available for purchase, they will undoubtedly run across the terms “glazed” or “paned.” These terms mean that a window actually has two sheets of glass in the case of double glazed, and three sheets of glass in the case of triple glazed. These panes of glass are held in place by a spacer, and gas is kept trapped between the two sheets, usually air, argon or krypton. These additional sheets of glass, combined with the gas that is trapped between them, affords the home additional insulation and protection.
The space between glass panes allows for superior insulation, but it also poses unique structural issues. This space can become filled with condensation when the window’s seal fails. This results in the appearance of fog. Certain types of windows utilize silica pellets to absorb any moisture that makes it in through a failing seal. Since condensation is not always visible, an issue can be present in these types of windows for a very long time prior to being noticed by the homeowner. When this damage is left unchecked for an extended period of time, irreversible damage to the window assembly can result.
There are obvious and significant benefits to triple glazed windows. First and foremost, if one layer of gas and two sheets of glass offer more insulation and protection against heat loss, two layers of gas and three sheets offers even more. In fact, the insulation of triple glazed windows can even offer protection against sound.
The protection that a window offers against heat loss is called its U factor. Single glass windows have a U Factor rating in the neighborhood of 1.30. This drops to a value of approximately .50 with a high performance triple glazed window. Since windows have different U factors at different points on the window, a more general and tangible comparison is helpful to understand U factor’s impact on savings. What these U factors mean is that during the winter, the surface temperature on the inside face of a window might be as low as 45 degrees with a low performing single pane window. A triple glazed window might have a surface temperature as high as 60 degrees in the same circumstances. This makes it easier for your heating unit to maintain the desired temperature.
Extra materials require additional cost, so high performance windows are understandably more expensive than their single pane counterparts. This is sometimes 20-40% higher for triple glazed windows than double paned. There are also additional issues with installation due to the added weight of the unit. These windows might not be suitable for all scenarios, and additional bracing might be required if the unit is going to be placed in a location that is particularly prone to sagging.
When compared to a single pane of glass, triple glazed windows offer significant savings. It is not unheard of for a homeowner to waste hundreds of dollars per year with heat loss due to poor performing windows. However, this comparison becomes more difficult to calculate when considering the difference between double glazed and triple glazed window options. The U factor of triple glazed windows is lower than that of double glazed, for sure. This will undoubtedly result in a financial savings with regard to energy cost.
Higher performing windows do what they claim. As for triple glazed windows, if maximizing the amount of energy savings is important to a home owner, then they are most certainly worth the cost. In situations where home improvements are financed, this calculation is made easier. Simply estimate the energy savings per year and find the associated cost. This can be easily done with a window installation professional. Then, figure out of the yearly savings is more than the additional mortgage payments. Often, triple glazed windows are cash flow positive for a homeowner. When combined with additional noise suppression, the decision is often easy to make.