Are Triple Pane Windows Better?
There is nothing worse than a drafty window on a cold, windy night in December. Sitting in front of your gas fireplace or wood stove is less romantic when you have to put on a sweater to keep warm due to drafty windows. If you don't choose your windows wisely, you will negatively impact your home's thermal performance and energy efficiency.
While window technology has undoubtedly improved over the single-pane windows of earlier generations, there is still a significant difference between the different types of windows on the market. Below, Rise takes an in-depth look at the triple benefits of triple-pane windows.
What Are Triple Pane Windows?
As the name implies, triple pane windows incorporate three separate panes into their design. In most cases, these windows have three panes and two spacers, which adds extra insulation properties. There are also products billed as triple pane windows, which only include two glass layers with a low-emissivity film between the two panes of glass. Triple pane windows were first widely used in the cold climate of Sweden. They have now become commonplace in energy-efficient and sustainable homes built throughout Europe and North America.
Why Are Triple Pane Windows Better?
The more space you have between your window and the exterior of your home, the better your insulation capacity will be. Because triple-pane windows have two separate chambers separating the three panes of glass, they have a much higher insulation capacity.
In terms of the metrics used to measure windows, such as the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), the U-value, and the R-factor, one company that specializes in designing and installing triple-pane windows estimates an approximate improvement of 20-30 percent in a triple pane window's energy ratings.
The US Department of Energy estimates that between 25 and 30 percent of heat gain and heat loss occurs through windows. Triple pane windows, then, because of their added insulation capacity, will drastically improve any home's energy efficiency. Many window manufacturers inject argon gas into the space between each pane of glass. Argon gas even further increases the energy efficiency rating of these windows by slowing the heat transfer through the window. This gas also helps avoid condensation, moisture, and humidity buildup on the interior pane of glass.
On the downside, triple pane windows usually weigh significantly more than other window options because of the extra glass. However, fiberglass frames offer added strength to allow these windows to be installed in almost every type of home successfully. Fiberglass frames can also be designed to be hollow, which further increases the overall window unit's thermal performance.
Do Triple Pane Windows Reduce Energy Bills?
Triple pane windows offer increased insulation, and homeowners can expect drastically lower energy bills. The national average price for a triple pane window is between $550 and $1,085, plus the installation costs. The added cost for a more energy-efficient window will pay for itself over time through expected energy savings. Triple pane windows can save you at least 3 percent on your heating bill and potentially much more in colder regions. So, a home with regular double-paned windows paying around $2,000 per year in energy bills could save about $60 per year. The increased energy efficiency of triple pane windows will thus immediately translate into savings you perceive monthly.
Do Triple Pane Windows Make a Home More Comfortable?
Triple pane windows also improve the comfort levels of the interior of your home without compromising the light. A cold draft from an unsealed window will not only cause your central heater to work harder, but it can make parts of your home uncomfortable. Triple pane windows will allow you to control the temperature inside your home with a programmable or smart thermostat. They will also help ensure a constant temperature throughout your home's different rooms and areas.
Do Triple Pane Windows Reduce Noise?
Triple pane windows can also reduce the amount of noise that enters your home. The added insulation and added layer of glass will add soundproof qualities. This can be extremely important for multifamily residences or houses located in urban areas where the early morning sounds of city life can often be a disturbance. Triple pane windows can maximize noise reduction by opting for thicker glass, creating wider gaps between the individual panes, and using laminated glass.
An Added Health Benefit
Reducing exterior noise pollution and cold drafts entering your home will help you sleep better, which will help to improve your overall health. For homeowners who live in dry and cold climates during the winter months, triple pane windows will also increase the humidity levels inside your home, increasing comfort. Low home humidity levels in winter can lead to dry skin and hair and increased susceptibility to colds and respiratory illness. It also causes static electricity in the home, meaning you will often get "zapped" when you walk barefoot across the carpet.
Also, viruses, bacteria, and germs all tend to thrive in dry air. Flu viruses are much more prevalent during the winter months because the virus is more stable in cold and dry air. In a home with adequate humidity levels, the virus gathers water and falls to the ground instead of hovering in the air where you could potentially breathe it in. Triple pane windows can moderate the humidity levels in your home and help you avoid viruses, the flu, and other common winter illnesses.
What to Look for When Buying Triple Pane Windows
Are you ready to replace windows in your home with more energy-efficient triple-pane windows? Below is a short checklist of features that you should keep in mind when looking at your options.
- Ensure that the triple pane windows you purchase include three panes of glass instead of two panes and a low emissivity film. These "low-E" films are often added to the glass's non-exposed surfaces (one per chamber). It is essential to make sure your window does have three panes.
- If you are looking to maximize noise reduction, search for triple-pane windows that have laminated glass.
- Find triple-pane windows filled with either argon or krypton gas. In most cases, krypton gas is more common in triple-pane windows. It offers improved insulating qualities within the reduced spaces between the three pieces of glass.
- Hollow fiberglass frames for triple-pane windows offer both strength and improved insulation for the entire window structure.
- Research the U-factor and SHGC rating for the triple pane windows you are considering. For SHGC, the lower the number, the less solar radiation will be transmitted through your window. For U-factor, the lower the number, the more energy efficient your window will be.