Pressure is mounting for homeowners to switch from double to triple glazing in a bid to increase energy and efficiency, but expert opinion seems divided
Triple glazing is different to double glazing in that it secures, within a sealed frame, air or an insulating gas between three panes of glass instead of two.
Some experts recommend that, if you already have new energy- efficient double glazing, then it isn’t worth switching to triple glazing, as you will only gain minimal improvements in energy efficiency. It makes sense that single-glazed windows will undo any benefits gained from insulating the walls, roof and floor of a house against cold spots, draughts and condensation. If you only have single glazing, or double glazing with a low energy efficiency, then triple glazing would seem to be a good investment. Your home will be noticeably warmer, and you will save a considerable amount of money on energy bills.
Triple glazing is already widely used in countries like Sweden and Norway, where an arctic climate demands high levels of insulation. But does it suit the UK climate? Is it even necessary? It is much more expensive to produce and is much heavier. Whilst a double-glazed window has been proved to make a modern house more comfortable to live in, a triple glazed home does offer a higher degree of comfort, since it retains heat for longer. So, whilst triple glazing may make little difference to your heating bills, you will definitely notice a difference in warmth inside the house.
Advantages of Triple Glazing
- More efficient at heat retention than double glazing, making your home feel warmer
- Reduces risk of condensation build-up between the panes
- Increases the strength of your window. It is harder to break, making your house more secure
- The extra pane of glass blocks out more external noise than double glazing
Disadvantages of Triple Glazing
- Much longer return on your initial investment due to the high cost of purchase and installation of triple glazed windows.
- The extra pane of glass will increase the weight of the windows and could potentially damage some existing walls.
- Reduces light penetration, leading to a reduction of external light coming into your home. Reduced sunlight absorption can also affect the amount of external warmth entering your home.
- Condensation can appear on the outer layer of glass. Triple glazing must comply with efficiency levels set down by the Building Regulation specifications – the more heat trapped inside the home, the more likely that outside panes of glass will remain cooler and therefore condensation will form during the winter months.
Obviously, the more windows that you have installed, the cheaper the price will be. And changing all your windows in one go, rather than one or two at a time, will save you money. Changing from single to triple glazing will also save on energy bills.
The bottom line must be the high initial cost. If you already have good double glazing, then why bother? Whilst current research is looking at new window coatings which absorb heat in sunlight hours and release it at night, it may be that hanging heavy curtains and drawing them after dark will do the job just as well.