Natomas is one of the last areas of Sacramento still partially undeveloped—but nowhere near as undeveloped as it used to be. Houses keep creeping closer to the airport, and, for some people, noise has become an issue. People who live in the area, and in other noisy neighborhoods like Midtown or Del Paso Boulevard, often wonder what they can do to tamp down sound in their home. One of the consistent answers I give my clients? Triple pane windows.
Actually, people are beginning to talk more about triple pane windows now. They’ve become standard in countries like Germany and Sweden, and increasingly popular in the US. But what about for a region like Sacramento, where we don’t really need to brace against the cold? Aside from noise reduction, are there reasons to use triple pane? It depends on where you live, what is important to you, and how much you want to spend. In the question of triple vs. double pane windows, the answer comes down to you.
The U-Factor of Double and Triple Pane Windows
I suppose that when I said “it comes down to you,” I also could have said that “it comes down to U,” as in, the U-factor of a window (sometimes called a U-value). This measures the amount of heat that is lost through a window of a home. Ratings are between 0 and 1, with zero being the ideal. This is strictly about air moving through the panes, and not air escaping from poor sealing or installation, which is a separate issue.
Double pane windows are two panes of glass separated by a narrow space. While not all glass is equal, a highly efficient double pane window will have a U-factor of around .30. A triple pane, on the other hand, can be as low as .15, a nearly 50% increase in energy savings.
For Natomas residents who live in warmer climates with mild winters, U-factor may not be a big selling point. Wasting energy is never a good thing, but if using heat is a rare occasion, triple pane windows may not be worth the cost of installation based on U-factor alone.
The Sun’s Effects on Double and Triple Pane Glass
U-factor isn’t the only consideration to look at, though, when choosing between double and triple pane windows. Probably more important in warmer areas is the SHGC, which is the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, also expressed between 0 and 1, with 0 again being the ideal. This is how much visible light—and therefore heat—a window can block. This is especially important for homeowners who have large windows that can let in a lot of sun.
When there is a lot of sun coming in, the room gets warmer. That’s great if you live in a northern or wintry climate; it’s a source of natural heat. But when you have the air conditioner running, it just works against your AC system. No matter how well-maintained your air conditioner is, running it too hard is a waste of money. So a window with a low SHGC could come in handy for rooms that have sun-facing windows.
That’s where triple pane windows can come in. These windows can be 25-30% more efficient than double pane for SHGC since they offer less visible transmittance. However, it is important to realize one potential drawback—the room will be a little darker since less natural light is allowed in. Many people don’t want a darker room, but the other benefits of triple pane may outweigh the reduced light for your home.
Cost, Concerns, and Choosing Triple or Double Pane
Needless to say, triple pane windows offer more—and will cost more. Exactly how much more can vary, but a good rule of thumb is that each window will cost around $100 more than a double-paned one. You’ll want to figure out the cost it takes to keep a room cool, the amount of heat you use, and the savings you could expect to get from switching to triple pane. If the numbers make sense, triple pane windows may be a good choice.
You don’t have to go all in, either. There are people who have triple panes in western windows to lessen the impact of the setting sun, but double pane in other rooms. And then there are people who just put drapes over hotter windows—although this does block all sunlight as well as keeping out the heat.
So, what should be your ultimate consideration? Simply put, what works best for you. Triple pane glass can cut down noise, which is important in some areas, and reduce heat, which might be good for certain windows. It’s about making the choice that best fits your budget, after getting the right information.
If you are looking for the best double or triple pane windows, professionally installed, please contact us today. At Bell Brothers, we look forward to helping you cut down on your bills, save energy, and make your house more beautiful.