Triple Pane Windows Chicago

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The Buyers’ Guide: Triple-Pane Glass Windows Edition

There are a lot of ways to reduce your energy bill.

You might already be familiar with most of the methods on the market to make your home more environmentally and budget friendly. Some of the factors that can play a major role in lowering your monthly energy bill are:

  • Smart home systems
  • Insulation
  • Tankless water heaters
  • Low-flow toilets
  • Heat pumps
  • And double pane windows

If you’re plugged into the renovation industry right now, you may also be considering the newest addition to the windows market: triple pane windows. Many of the newest builds are incorporating this three pane technology to amplify savings and reduce heat loss in new homes.

Even if you didn’t know they existed, most of us know logically what triple pane windows are. But what are the benefits of triple pane glass windows, other than keeping the warmth in and the cold out? And what are the drawbacks of this kind of technology?

As a homeowner, there are other questions that might be playing on your mind, too.

 Should you be springing for those in your new build?

How difficult are they to install as a window replacement?

And most of all, are they worth it?

Whether you’re planning to renovate or build, understanding the full pros and cons of triple pane glass windows helps you to protect the value of your investment—and improve your level of comfort.

In this article, we’re unpacking everything you need to know about triple pane glass windows: what they are, what they do, what they don’t do, and what they cost. And for our readers who have more questions after what are the benefits of triple pane glass windows—we’ve got answers to those, too.

Welcome to our Buyer’s Guide: Triple Pane Glass Windows Edition

Part I. What Are Triple Pane Windows?

The Short Answer

The Long Answer

Part II. The Pros and Cons of Triple Pane Windows

The Pros of Triple Pane Windows

Triple Pane Windows and Noise Pollution

The Cons of Triple Pane Windows

Part III. Why Not Double Pane Windows?

Are Double Pane Windows Better?

What is a U-value?

Part IV. Costs and Values of Triple Pane Windows

The Cost of Triple Pane Windows

The Value of Triple Pane Windows

Recouping the Cost of Triple Pane Windows

Triple Pane Windows and Property Value

Upgrading to Triple Pane Windows

Brands to Watch for Triple Pane Windows

Part V. Triple Pane Glass Windows FAQs

Conclusion 

Part I. What Are Triple Pane Windows?

The Short Answer

Triple pane windows are essentially three panes of glass, sealed within a frame, with a very small space between each pane.

The small spaces between the panes are filled with heavy gas—argon, xenon, or krypton gas—which acts as an effective method of noise and heat insulation.

Triple pane windows are also known as triple glazed windows, tri-panes, and triple glazing.

The Long Answer

Energy Efficiency in the US

Almost 40% of our energy consumption as Americans is used for heating and cooling. A staggering 75% of our electricity bills are made up of heating and cooling costs.

It makes sense that we are looking for ways to minimize our spend in these areas. This is money that we could be spending on our families, on paying down our mortgages, and on taking care of all the other improvements we want to make in our home.

Unfortunately, when it comes to energy efficiency, there has been a misconception in the past that affects homeowners now. That misconception is that homes need to create energy to save money. The general consensus now is that in order to create a highly efficient home we need to use less energy, instead.

Since windows are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to losing heat from our homes—around 12% of our home’s heat loss on average—it makes sense to concentrate on this factor.

Window Construction

Window construction has come a long way.

Up until fairly recently only a single pane of glass stood between our home and all the outside elements. Then, window manufacturers introduced double pane windows. Low emissivity coatings were rolled out to reflect heat and reduce heat loss. Thermal bridges were created to stop the flow of cold air into our homes. Argon, xenon, and krypton gases were used to fill the space between glass panes and stop the slow leak of heat out of our homes.

Finally, triple and quadruple glazed windows were added to professional window ranges, marketing the ultimate in heat conservation.

Market Demand

Less than 4% of all window sales in the US up to 2019 were triple pane windows. Although the data isn’t out for 2020 and beyond, there have been some early suggestions as to why the market uptake for triple glazing is so slow stateside.

Major brands like Unilux and Weathershield have seen strong industry support for their triple pane windows. Alexander Kolbe, renowned architect and builder, uses triple pane windows in all his buildings, and believes that their level of performance as an energy efficient window solution out-performs double pane windows.

In Europe, three- and four-pane windows are experiencing a much warmer welcome. Because energy costs are generally higher in Europe and the UK, the demand for higher levels of energy efficiency could be a major influence.

Scandinavian countries, in particular, use triple pane windows in new builds and home improvements because they retain more heat in brutally cold climates.

Many people investing heavily in their new home builds are wisely choosing triple pane windows. If a new build has heated floors and quality roof and wall insulation, but standard double pane windows, the interior of the building is still prone to cold spots and condensation.

The Future of Triple Pane Windows

As with everything in the home improvement and building industries, there is always a new solution on the horizon.

In window manufacturing, that new solution is thinner triple pane windows to eliminate one of the biggest obstacles for buyers: window weight.

Window weight may not seem like an issue until you start looking for a window installer. Heavier windows require a better level of structural support. Likewise, the labor, safety, and expertise demands increase.

These new, thinner triple pane windows have been hailed as a game changer by Alpen High Performance Products. CEO of Alpen, Brad Begin, explains that this next generation window product comprises two standard thickness panes with an ultra-thin centre glass pane. Krypton, a gas lighter than argon but heavier than oxygen, fills the spaces between the panes. This type of window has been shown to reduce energy use by up to 16% when compared to standard double pane windows. The triple pane solution, manufactured by Alpen, could help improve the popularity of triple pane windows over the next five years.

Triple pane windows have the potential to bring massive benefits to homeowners across the US, as we’ll explore next. But there are some very real obstacles holding them back. How trusted manufacturers like Alpen High Performance Products, and industry leaders like Marvin and Pella Windows, address these issues will be the key to this great energy solution becoming a mainstay in American buildings.

Part II. The Pros and Cons of Triple Pane Windows

The Pros of Triple Pane Windows

Triple pane windows may be considered a luxury in new construction across the country right now, but they deliver huge benefits.

  • Better insulation than double pane windows, which means less heat is lost to the exterior—and also reduced costs to heat your home. It is important to note that energy efficiency strongly depends on the quality of the windows, the framing, and the gas used in between the panes—not just on the number of panes.
  • Eliminates hot and cold spots inside your home
  • Reduction in condensation and damp—eliminates the risk of moisture and mold damage and an unhealthy living environment
  • Stronger windows
  • Potential to add value to your sell price
  • Reduces noise pollution

Triple Pane Windows and Noise Pollution

One of the greatest benefits of triple pane windows after energy efficiency is their ability to filter out environmental noise. Because triple pane windows are essentially three layers of glass—and gas—standing between you and the outside world, there’s more glass for the sound to travel through. Of course, three ultra-thin layers of glass may only offer the same level of sound proofing as two thicker panes in a double pane window.

When investing in triple pane windows for noise reduction, be sure to enquire about the level of noise reduction the windows can expect to deliver before signing the dotted line. It also pays to remember that your windows can only filter out noise pollution when they’re closed.

The Cons of Triple Pane Windows

The drawbacks of triple pane windows mainly centre around the costs involved in purchasing and installing them.

  • Triple pane windows are almost double the weight of standard double pane windows—heavier windows, as we’ve explained, are more labor intensive, time intensive, and can require costly structural alterations
  • Energy savings in homes with triple pane windows can be as high as 16% of the monthly energy bill—or as low as 7%. Homeowners and businesses should assess whether this level of savings would justify the investment.
  • Triple glazing allows less heat to escape your home, but also allows less of the sun’s heat into your home for natural warmth on sunny days.

Part III. Why Not Double Pane Windows?

Are Double Pane Windows Better?

It may look as though there is a fair bit of opposition in the triple pane vs. double pane window debate.

But there are many advantages to choosing triple glazing over double glazing. The additional pane of window glass keeps more heat inside your home when you’re heating it in winter. It also stops heat getting in when you’re trying to cool the house down at the height of summer.

Double pane windows are also to blame for up to 20% of heat loss from our homes, if your windows are over 10 years old.

Triple pane windows, generally speaking, have a lower U-value than double pane and single pane windows.

What is a U-value?

U-value is used to measure how effective a window is at preventing heat transfer. The higher the U-value of your window, the less energy efficient it is.

As an example, a standard single pane window has a U-value of over 5. New model double pane windows should have a U-value under 1.6. Some triple pane windows have a U-value under 1, and as low as 0.8.

Double Pane vs. Triple Pane Windows

Double Pane Windows Triple Pane Windows
Standard price point

 

High price point
Light and easy to install Heavy and may require specialist alterations

 

Good insulation for cool to hot climates

 

Good insulation for cold to hot climates
Cost effective in relation to energy savings (up to 5 years to recoup costs) Not cost effective in relation to energy savings (up to 20 years to recoup costs)

 

Available in a variety of frames Available in a variety of frames

 

Thinner frames

 

Bulkier frames to handle heavier weight
Less likely to put structural strain on the building

 

More likely to put structural strain on the building
Damaged panes are difficult to replace

 

Damaged panes are difficult to replace
Easy to find from all brands Easy to find from all premium brands

 

What is the Verdict?

While triple pane windows may be the premium standard in window solutions now, a quality rated double pane window will still perform exceptionally well to reduce condensation, noise, and heat loss in your home.

If you own property in a mild climate, double pane windows may well be the better solution for affordability and practicality. In harsher climates—either due to harsh winters or desert-hot summers—triple pane windows may be a better investment, if you are comfortable absorbing that cost.

Part IV. Costs and Values of Triple Pane Windows

The Cost of Triple Pane Windows

There is no sugar coating it: triple pane windows are currently setting property owners back an additional 30-50% on their double paned counterparts. Although prices are considerably higher in areas like New York and Michigan, the average cost for installing triple pane windows is $820 per window (including labor). This price doesn’t include additional issues that may arise from installing triple pane windows (like structural changes to your property to accommodate heavier window weight).

The Value of Triple Pane Windows

The level of value a triple pane window installation can add to your home depends on how much importance you place on the pros we’ve listed.

If noise reduction and energy efficiency matter, and you want to avoid condensation build up—and have the budget for triple pane windows—they are an excellent investment.

If, however, you have marginal concerns about the level of energy efficiency in your home, you live in a quiet area, and you have dehumidifiers to manage condensation and damp, double pane windows may be a more practical choice.

Recouping the Cost of Triple Pane Windows

When it comes to conserving heat and reducing your energy bill, the bottom line isn’t as dramatic as many manufacturers might lead us to believe.

That’s because what your new windows cost you won’t add up on your energy bill for another ten to twenty years. This is how long that central third pane will take to deliver energy savings equal to their retail and installation price.

Triple Pane Windows and Property Value

When you take into account the benefits of triple pane windows over double pane windows, your property is likely to gain considerable value when you list it for sale. Effectively, a well-insulated property that delivers slightly lower energy bills and stays warmer over winter appeals to many home buyers. Triple pane windows should come with solid manufacturers’ warranties, too. These future-proof your property and add to its value long-term.

Upgrading to Triple Pane Windows

Owners of period properties can find it a struggle to maintain their home’s period features and distinctive style while still keeping it modern and functional. When you need to protect your property’s classic, traditional aesthetic but need to improve the home’s practicality—and especially its ability to hold warmth—window replacements can do the trick.

Casement windows were popular leading up to the 20th century, but standard single pane glass offers poor window insulation and lacks any level of protection for your home. As companies like Marvin offer double and triple pane glass in their casement window products, period property owners can enjoy the best of both worlds.

The essential point in shopping for replacement windows for your home is quality. Look for a company that uses quality framing—like energy efficient fiberglass or classic wood. Check manufacturer warranties and terms, and explore your customization options. All these points will help you to get the most from your triple pane window solutions.

Brands to Watch for Triple Pane Windows

  • Marvin Windows and Doors
  • Pella Windows
  • Neuffer
  • Northshield Windows
  • Unilux Windows
  • Weathershield Windows and Doors

Part V. Triple Pane Glass Windows FAQs

Potential buyers are bound to have a lot of questions when it comes to their windows. There are some major considerations to make before you hand over your hard earned money, so we’ll help you to explore those here.

I know I need replacement windows. Are triple pane windows best?

Triple pane windows can be energy efficient, reduce condensation, and stop draughts. They may also add value to your home when you sell. But they aren’t necessarily best for your needs. Double pane windows are the industry standard, but comparing the type of gas used in between panes, the weight of the windows, the cost, and the type of framing will give you a better idea of what is best for you.

Also, even the best quality triple pane window glass will be ineffective if it is poorly installed, uses poor quality framing, or is poorly constructed.

How do I know if the triple pane windows I’m looking at are good?

Look for ENERGY STAR certification. You can also compare U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (which measure insulation and sun blocking).

Can I get tax credits for my triple pane windows?

You can stay up to date with the latest news about tax credits and qualification here.

If the triple pane windows I choose don’t have an ENERGY STAR rating, does that mean they are no good?

Not at all. There are a set of criteria windows must meet to obtain certification, but it doesn’t take into account the number or size of windows you need or the associated Solar Heat Gain Coefficient of your home. If in doubt, speak with your reputable window contractor directly.

What fancy terminology do I need to know when I’m shopping for triple pane windows? I keep hearing about IG, Low-E, and gas fills!

In short: none. Your reputable window contractor should be able to talk you through your window options in simple, clear terms. If you don’t understand something, we suggest asking questions until it makes sense—after all, this is your money they’re spending.

And just quickly, IG stands for insulating glass—these are the glass panes or panels that are separated by gas in double and triple pane windows.

Low-E stands for low emissivity—the microscopically thin coating on a glass surface that reflects heat inside your home and reduces heat loss.

Gas fills are the gases that fill the spaces between glass panes—usually argon, xenon, or krypton, they act as transparent insulation for your windows.

Conclusion

If you want to know whether or not you should invest in triple pane windows, the frustrating answer is: it depends.

It depends on how comfortable you are with the potential costs, and the issues that can contribute to those costs.

If the high price point for installation isn’t a concern for you, then the benefits of triple pane windows are a great draw:

  • Reduced draughts
  • Warmer interior
  • Less condensation
  • Lower energy bills
  • Improved property value

Eventually, a home or commercial property with triple pane glass windows will earn its money back—but it will take years. In the meantime, there is more than enough to keep a savvy property owner happy about their investment.

 

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