If you are like most homeowners considering a window replacement in Winnipeg, there is a good chance your existing windows are either double pane or worst case scenario, single pane. Yet, when they were new they were warm and comfortable. So what’s the deal with triple pane windows then? Does an extra pane really make a lot of difference in terms of comfort in your home? And more importantly, is it worth you spending the extra money?
Of course, we all want what’s best for our homes, but the costs of undertaking a window replacement project can be quite large even before adding upgrades and extra features to your new windows. Are triple pane windows really worth it when it comes to keeping your home warm in the winter or can double pane windows do a good enough job?
If you want a quick answer, then yes it is. Compared to double pane windows, triple pane windows not only make your home more comfortable; when installed correctly they also improve the home’s energy efficiency, keep your house warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and less reliant on the central air system. If you want to find out how keep reading as we discuss the major differences between double and triple pane windows, how much more triple pane windows cost, and why when it comes to modern vinyl windows, an extra pane is more than just a piece of glass.
Check out this quick video about triple pane windows:
What are triple-pane windows?
To answer this question fully, let’s define what a pane is. A window pane, also sometimes referred to as a glazing, is quite literally the sheet of glass separating the inside of your home from the outside. The introduction of additional panes in a window also led to the invention of insulated glass units (IGUs) sometimes referred to as sealed units. When multiple panes are combined into a sealed unit, they are bound together by an insulator. This makes the unit as a whole a lot more efficient as opposed to glass panes inserted separately into the frame. Double-pane and triple-pane windows come with two or three panes respectively.
You can watch this brief video that explains the anatomy of a modern window:
Today, double-pane windows are mostly used in window replacements in Ontario and British Columbia where the climate is milder. Double-pane is considered the minimum standard in Manitoba and most of the other provinces because of the Energy Star rating requirements. The double-pane windows have to be of exceptional quality and have numerous additional efficiency features to qualify for the minimum efficiency rating in Manitoba.
If you want to get a quality replacement, consider investing in ENERGY STAR rated windows. You can check out a list of all ENERGY STAR rated windows on this Natural Resources Canada website. These windows comply with international standards in order to be considered efficient in different climate zones. In order to be considered efficient in Winnipeg, windows must meet a minimum ER rating of 29 and a maximum U-factor of 1.40.
With triple-pane windows, there usually aren’t any problems with meeting climate zone requirements in Winnipeg. When it comes to double-pane windows, however, it is often necessary to include those extra upgrades to make the windows meet the local climate zone requirements. Because additional features add to the price of double-pane windows the final price can very well end up being close to what a triple-pane window would cost you anyways.
For example, if you do want to finance your replacement project through the Home Energy Efficiency Loan, you will have to get triple pane windows, as double pane windows can’t qualify for the loan.
The difference between double pane and triple pane windows is pretty straightforward. The additional pane of glass in the window creates a better insulating barrier. Compared to double-pane units, triple-pane windows allow less heat to escape, have less condensation, and are more soundproof. Makes sense.
But the additional pane of glass and the extra space it creates allows for additional efficiency features that often come standard in triple pane windows, making them even more efficient. Combined with the insulating properties of an additional pane, these features make your home more comfortable year-round.
Triple Pane Windows with Argon Gas
One of the big advantages of the extra space created by the additional glass pane in triple pane windows is that it allows for more gas to be filled in between the panes. Sealed units in modern vinyl windows come standard with an inert gas fill like Argon of Krypton. These gases further improve the window’s thermal resistance and slow the heat transfer from the inside to the outside. Similarly, in the summer, the cooler air from your air conditioner takes longer to escape to the outside. Although sealed units in double pane windows also come with a gas fill, having only one cavity with gas is obviously not as efficient as having two.
Triple Pane Windows with Low-E coatings
Another benefit of triple pane windows over double is that the extra pane allows for the utilization of additional Low-E coatings. To an untrained eye, low-emissivity coatings look like a window tint or film. In reality, though, the coating is applied during the manufacturing of the windows and at a molecular level. Pretty much all windows manufactured in Canada today utilize low-emissivity coatings to improve the performance and efficiency of the window. This applies to both double and triple pane windows.
Low-e coatings are beneficial on windows because they further prevent heat from escaping, creating a better barrier between the outside and the inside. This is especially important during the night time when there is no sunlight helping warm the house up. By helping keep the warmth in, Low-E In the summertime Low-E reflects UV, keeping your home cooler. Additional Low-E coatings further improve the window’s ratings, but at the expense of visibility. That is why they are often used not only in the coldest areas, but also those windows in the house that get a lot of direct sunlight and easily overheat during the day.
While you can get different kinds of Low-E coatings on double pane windows, getting triple pane windows allows you to get multiple coatings on numerous panes which can significantly boost the performance of your windows.
Check out this video that explains Low-E coatings some more:
Triple Pane Windows and Noise Reduction
Another reason homeowners in Winnipeg often consider triple pane windows over double pane is because of their improved noise-reduction features. Although not as good at keeping noise out as SSP glass, the extra pane is an improvement compared to the noise-reduction capabilities of double pane windows.
How much do triple-pane windows cost?
Alright, all these additional features that come with an extra pane are great, but how much more is this going to cost? That’s the big question that can initially put homeowners off getting triple-pane windows.
On average triple-pane windows cost 10-15% more than double-pane units.
This may not be such a significant price difference if you are replacing one or two windows. But if you are getting rid of all the old windows in the house, going the triple-pane route can add several thousand dollars on top of your already expensive project.
Surely, there has to be some benefit in return for the investment. This brings us to the next question:
Are triple-pane windows a good investment?
If you read American window replacement websites, you will often see companies saying that spending extra money on triple-pane windows doesn’t make sense. This is actually true in a lot of the United States. What makes Canada different? Same thing that always did: our climate. Because the US has a much more temperate climate than most of Canada, a strong insulating barrier isn’t always needed in a window opening: the difference in temperature between the indoors and outside isn’t as big as it would be further north.
On average, it is said that triple-pane windows can help you save an additional 2-3% on your energy bill annually. In reality, that number greatly depends on the condition of your house, the wall structure, what temperature you consider comfortable, and even the condition of your furnace.
There is no sure way to calculate how much more money triple-pane windows can save you. But if you consider that new windows should last you 25 years, the 2-3% annual savings margin may be well worth the extra investment.
Are double-pane windows good enough for Winnipeg?
There is no straightforward way to answer this question because a lot depends here on where the windows come from and how well they are installed. In a lot of the cases, double pane window ratings come very close to the minimum efficiency standard we mentioned above. That’s why with additional Low-E coatings and gas fills it is possible to make the window meet minimum efficiency criteria. Refer to the Natural Resources website above to see if the windows from a company you are considering meet those requirements.
Windows in Winnipeg: should YOU get triple-pane windows?
Chances are if you are reading this post, you are on the fence about investing the additional money into your replacement. But it also probably means that you still want a solution that offers savings and makes your home comfortable. When installed correctly, energy-efficient triple pane windows can last well over 25 years and keep your home comfortable in the dead of winter without putting a strain on the home’s heating system.
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