When it comes to insulating and soundproofing your home, windows are one of the most important purchases you can make. While options used to be limited to only single panes of glass in a variety of styles and sizes, the technology behind windows has advanced significantly in recent years. Many homeowners now choose more durable and insulated windows with two, or even three, panes of glass to keep their homes warm and protected from the elements. But just how good are triple pane windows? Are they significantly better than their double pane counterparts? Let’s take a look at the differences between double and triple pane windows, as well as arguments both in favor of and against choosing three panes of glass for your windows.
Why homeowners choose triple pane windows
There are two main reasons that window companies introduced triple pane windows as an alternative to double panes: energy efficiency and soundproofing. While triple pane windows are not currently the most popular choice in most areas of the U.S., many companies in colder areas of the world—such as Canada—stock these ultra-insulated windows and install them as standard in new homes.
As far as energy efficiency is concerned, fans of triple pane windows believe that they give the highest and best insulation possible for their homes. A well-insulated home will cost a homeowner less during the winter months, so triple pane windows have the added benefit of decreasing energy bills as well.
Homeowners who live in noisy areas—cities, working construction sites, and train lines to name a few—often choose triple pane windows to help drown out excess noise from outside the home. Because triple pane windows are made from three panes of glass with two layers of insulating gas in between, this is logically the most sensible option for soundproofing a home.
Weighing the choices: pros and cons of triple pane windows vs. double pane windows
Taking into account the reasons homeowners purchase triple pane windows, it seems as if this choice is a no-brainer. However, some professionals remain divided as to the benefits of triple pane windows when compared directly to double pane windows. We’ve separated some of the pros and cons of triple pane windows as compared to their double pane counterparts to make sense of their differences.
Triple pane windows: pros
The most obvious benefit of triple pane windows is an increase in energy efficiency—they offer an improvement of up to 20-30% on energy efficiency if you consider Solar Heat Gain Coefficients (SHGC) and U-factors. While these statistics will vary according to where you live and the exact windows your home has, you can find out more about your windows’ energy efficient performance by checking out their Energy Star rating.
An increase in energy efficiency conversely means a decrease in heating bills. A home in an area like New England can save up to 2-3% on heating bills with triple pane windows compared to a home with double pane windows. These savings will understandably vary in warmer climates and will depend on your windows; the best bet here is to check with your window professional for their predicted savings.
Regardless of the statistics behind triple pane windows, many contractors agree that the significant increase in comfort levels in homes with triple pane windows—including less window condensation and fewer noticeable drafts—makes any added cost worth it.
Triple pane windows: cons
The first and most substantial negative for triple pane windows is the increased cost. Because of the additional pane of glass and more complex construction and installation, you can expect to pay at least 10 to 15% more for triple pane than double pane windows. The Family Handyman estimates that it can take a homeowner up to 30 years or more to fully recoup this amount through energy savings and payments.
In addition to the added cost, some triple pane skeptics feel that the added energy efficiency of these windows is not high enough to justify the price tag. While information confirming this worry is not always readily available—and varies depending on the area you live in and the cost of your individual windows—it’s enough to put off some potential buyers.
Finally, triple pane windows are heavier and bulkier than double pane windows and, as such, can be more difficult to install. Homeowners who are worried about the possible installation pitfalls here (which include damage to existing frames and potentially needing to replace entire window units, frame included) are wary of making the switch to triple pane windows.
If you’re considering upgrading to triple pane windows, these pros and cons should help you to make your decision. As far as energy efficiency and soundproofing are concerned, three panes are most definitely better than one—or even two. As a consumer, you can make an educated decision based on the facts about triple pane windows and your at-home budget.