Is It Worth Getting Triple Pane Windows For Your Winnipeg Home?
A huge amount of heat in a home is lost through the windows. While double glazing is certainly an improvement over what our parents grew up with, offering decent noise reduction and thermal insulation, triple-glazed windows are even better.
For many years, it’s been recommended that people who live in environments with harsh weather use at least double glazing. However, it can be impossible to get true energy efficiency with just double glazing in some of the coldest and most windswept areas in Manitoba. Triple pane windows are a huge step up in terms of thermal performance.
Understanding Energy Ratings
A window’s performance is described using the Energy Rating which is based on the U-Factor (The amount of heat lost per meter squared of surface), as well as solar heat gains and any heat lost through the frames and spacers, or through air leakage. The recommended Energy Rating for your home will depend on the climate in that area.
In Winnipeg, for example, vinyl windows must meet a minimum Energy Rating of 29 and a maximum U-Factor of 1.40. These numbers are based on different climate zones and are available through Natural Resources Canada.
There are a number of ways that manufacturers can improve the performance of windows in general. Both double and triple pane windows can have Low-E coatings on the glass. This allows them to block heat loss through windows, while keeping warmth in and allowing some of the sun’s warmth to penetrate the windows. The Low-E coatings will stop UV rays getting through the glass, so your furniture and artwork won’t fade, but you’ll still feel warm.
The pockets of air between the two panes in a double-pane window, or between each pane in a triple pane window, are filled with Argon or Krypton gas in order to improve the efficiency of the windows. These inert gases conduct about half the energy that air does, making them far better for energy efficiency.
How Much Do Triple Pane Windows Cost
On average, any style triple pane window will cost 10-15% more than the same style double pane window.
The price can certainly be off-putting. Especially to homeowners in Winnipeg who are thinking of replacing all of their windows.
So, the question is if upgrading from two panes to three is worth the money.
Three Panes Are Better Than Two
Choosing a triple pane window over a double pane window makes sense if you live in Winnipeg for several reasons. Firstly, there’s more gas in a triple pane window, and because there’s more gas that means it’s harder for heat to get out. Adding the additional pane of gas and using two chamber design increases the ER rating of a given window size by around 20 percent.
Secondly, the extra pane provides the opportunity for more Low-E coatings, which means better insulation and better UV filtering too. Having that extra Low-E coating offers a 12 percent improvement in the ER rating of a given window size. The UV filtering benefit is one that should not be overlooked. If you’ve ever had a poster or painting fade because it was in line of the window, you’ll know how frustrating that can be. UV filtering won’t stop fading completely, but it will dramatically slow it down.
Triple pane windows have another benefit that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should; soundproofing. Vinyl windows are often maligned for not being all that soundproofed compared to some older designs, even if they are double glazed.
Triple pane vinyl windows offer more sound proofing not just because they have three panes of glass, but because there’s a super spacer made of foam inserted between the glazing. The spacer that Canadian Choice uses, helps to muffle noise because it is so soft, and it stops transmission of sound waves from pane to pane.
Condensation reduction is something that doesn’t get talked about much but that is a genuine benefit of triple pane windows. These windows have a good chance of helping to reduce condensation because they help to moderate the dew point. The dew point is the temperature at which water vapour in the air will condense onto a colder surface, and that point varies depending on the relative humidity of the air.
The better the insulation level offered by the window, the warmer the interior surface will be, and the less likely there will be a condensation problem. Many modern homes are very humid because they are so well sealed so there is nowhere for moisture in the air to go. In high humidity environments, the dew point is not as cold as it is in dryer environments.
In general, triple pane windows are more energy efficient, and this means that you will save money on your heating bills, and you will enjoy more comfort too. The ‘payback’ time is hard to quantify, because it’s hard to tell exactly how much of a difference there would be, cost wise, to heat a room with one type of window compared to another.
The quality of the glass matters, as well. Glass such as the Endur panes made by Cardinal Corp is designed to be used in environments where insulation matters. The Low – E coatings are designed to offer a balance between high visibility and solar control, and there are options for coatings that will control glare while preventing heat gain.
The type of coating you choose would depend on whether you want a warm interior in the winter (letting some heat from the sun in, while preventing heat loss) or whether you’re worried about overheating in the summer and would prefer to have the sun’s heat never make it through.
The frost point of the window is something that you should think about. High quality triple pane windows come with a beaded molecular sieve that offers a low initial frost point, good moisture adsorption, and control over temperature related pressure changes.
Stainless steel spacers can help to offer increased resistance to condensation, and because they are polymer free you won’t have to worry about potential chemical fogging inside the window.
The Choice is Yours
If you’re shopping for new windows, then you may be wondering if you can really justify paying extra for triple glazing. Think of it this way. Double glazing is standard on most homes now. If you’re planning on moving home at any point in the next few years, then having triple glazing will be a powerful selling point because it shows that you have invested in future proofing the property and making it as energy efficient as possible. As the weather becomes more erratic and energy prices rise, the efficiency of your home is going to matter a lot.
If you’re not planning on moving any time soon, then it still makes sense to have an energy efficient home with triple glazed windows, for your own comfort. Energy efficiency matters, and your home is a place where you can, and should, feel comfortable. With good sound protection, draft protection, UV light filtering, insulation and condensation prevention, triple pane windows will make a noticeable difference to your comfort.
Those windows are ideal for the bedroom, where you want things to be as quiet as possible, and the stability of temperature matters. You don’t want condensation, and you definitely don’t want drafts. Why limit yourself to what a trickle vent can offer when you’d be better off with a window system that is designed from day one to prevent condensation?
Three pane deigns aren’t just ‘the future’, they’re what every home owner should be looking at getting now so that they can rest comfortably in their home. So while you’re planning your next renovation project, give them a look and see what they might be able to do for you. You will be glad you did when you feel how much warmer and cozier your home becomes. You may also find that they add a lot of value to your property, and could help you to get a quick sale if you come to move in the future.