Touted everywhere as the most energy efficient window option available, triple-pane windows can seem like an ideal choice to most homeowners. After all, there are two pockets of argon gas to insulate, instead of the single pocket on a double-pane window. Wouldn’t that help reduce a home’s energy bills?
But here’s the thing. In some climates, they can really save money—but they just aren’t something we recommend for homes in the Phoenix area. Flagstaff? Maybe, but not Phoenix.
Triple-Pane Windows Are Most Effective in Colder Climates
Triple-pane windows, also known as “triple glazed” windows, draw tons of accolades in the media and are commonly requested by those who want to lower their use of electricity.
While it’s true that triple-pane glass is over 50% more energy-efficient than single-pane glass, its advantages mostly extend to homes in cold climates, where the goal is keeping heat inside the home when it’s cold outside. If you’re exploring window options for a home in Northern Arizona, triple-pane windows could make a world of difference in lowering those heating bills. The three layers of glass minimize heat loss.
However, in hot climates, triple-pane windows make a very small difference on air conditioning bills. It’s such a small difference compared to the jump in cost from double-pane to triple that it would take a lifetime (or longer) for the cost savings on utility bills to pay for the upgrade. It’s just not worth it.
Why don’t they work so well in summer? Low-E coatings on window glass is the single most important component in the energy efficiency of a window in hot climates. It reflects heat, keeping it from entering the home. It does its job on the outside of the glass, before the heat even has a chance to penetrate the glass, which is where argon gas makes an impact.
Argon gas is important, but the difference one pocket of gas makes versus two is small. It’s far better to invest in an extra low-E coating (low-E4 instead of low-E3, which is now standard), instead of the extra pane of glass. You’ll see a faster return on the cost of that upgrade than you’d ever see from triple-pane glass.
It’s just a better value for your investment, especially if you don’t plan to spend the next 30+ years in the home.
ROI Can Take Longer Than the Lifespan of the Window
“Slow and steady wins the race” is the motto with triple-pane windows. We all want to see immediate results and savings when we invest in our homes and replace our windows. We expect our energy bills to plummet, our home values to skyrocket, and the house to immediately feel cooler and more comfortable. While you will notice a change in your home’s consistent temperature, triple-pane windows will not lead to overnight savings, bolstered resale value or an immediate return on your investment. You’ll save about 2% – 5% on your monthly electricity bill by some estimates.
It’s something, but not much.
After 20-30 years, you’ll recoup your investment of that difference in cost. However, depending on the quality of the window, it may be time to replace the windows all over again.
Triple-Pane Windows Reduce Noise
There is one scenario in the Phoenix area where triple-pane windows are worth the extra cost: if you currently live near a busy road or a roaring freeway.
Triple-pane windows have the ability to reduce noise more than double-pane windows. And to keep costs manageable, it’s enough to install a few triple-pane windows on the side of a home with the most exterior noise, and double-pane windows elsewhere. This muffles sound where it’s the loudest, leaving the rest of the home’s double-pane windows to handle normal ambient noise from the neighborhood.
This strategy can make the most of a budget for window replacements while still significantly reducing exterior noise.
If you’re making the change from single-pane windows, you’ll notice an incredible difference. Say hello to a better night’s sleep!
Thickness & Weight can be an Issue
Adding that extra layer of glass with space between each layer comes with some challenges. To accommodate the extra pane of glass and spacers—and the weight of these—triple-pane windows are much deeper than most windows. They’re also heavier. And not all window openings can accommodate this extra depth and weight.
Installing triple-pane windows might require significant modifications to retrofit the windows, which adds up to a more expensive installation that takes longer to complete.
It’s something to consider.
If you’re ready to explore energy efficient replacement window options for your home, including conversations around dual-pane vs. triple-pane windows, and energy-efficient options from various manufacturers, give us a call at (602) 456-2227 or use the quote request form on our website. We’re happy to share information so you can make an informed decision.