The short answer is, it depends! Your current home, location, building type, size, and what way each wall is facing are some of the variables.
What way is the wall facing?
It might seem obvious that triple glazing would most benefit a damp, north facing wall of your home, but triple glazing is also very effective for the side of a house that gets a lot of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight, I discovered in my first home, can bleach drapes, carpets and other materials, especially if such materials are not designed and made to be ultraviolet light resistant. It took only a few months for the mauve colored drapes we got made specifically for one of our rooms to turn a hideous shade of dirty pink! It was the sunlight that did it. Still, north facing walls of a typical Seattle home may get no direct sunlight at all. That means that all of the heat in the home has a chance to radiate out the window, without any sunshine – even in the winter – coming in. Triple glazing can make for a better overall insulation than double glazing, and it might be worth it. Triple glazing offers other benefits.
Does the wall face a noisy or highly populated street?
I have been told by several people that their hitherto peaceful and quiet street has recently become a shortcut for commuters, encouraged by their traffic aware navigation systems to take one shortcut or another, particularly during rush hour. What happens is, a crash on, say, the Interstate 5 freeway brings traffic there to a standstill. Any such navigation system will quickly compute a shorter route elsewhere, and direct such system users to leave the freeway and take a more circuitous, but faster, route home. But so many drivers use one of a small handful of such devices, usually an app on their phone. What happens when lots of such folks get the same directions? You will see a veritable convoy of cars flying through this would-be quiet neighborhood or another. It can start suddenly and finish minutes later, but to the neighbors who loved their quiet little street, they may be finding this ‘escape convoy’ phenomenon happening more and more often. There’s not a lot you can do about it, although some cities in California, I hear, are negotiating with GPS developers to manage the situation more delicately. What you can do is, add triple glazing to those windows of your home that are facing the street. Even if cities are successful in limiting these convoys, the Puget Sound looks like it is only going to become more crowded for years to come. That means more people, more density, more cars and other forms of transportation, all adding to the noise levels. If you’ve ever been in a room with triple glazing, you may remember just how quiet it can be.
Is your house worth the triple glazed window investment?
Some houses are just not worth it. You could pay the extra for potential savings in better heat and cool insulation, only to find that your walls, doors, attic and roof leach out all your heat anyway. In some older homes, you need to look at the whole insulation thing more ‘holistically’.
If you are intending to sell your home soon, it might not be worth it. Personally, though, I like the idea of simply doing any given job properly. Yes, it’s true that not every investment in your house will result in a profitable return, but you do get to enjoy what you’ve done for the time you are there, and also enjoy the feeling of doing a job right. That feeling can’t be measured in money.
If you are planning to stay in your home indefinitely, then for sure, the principle of doing each job right comes into play. I have always preferred to wait a little longer for an improvement before having the money to do it right, then moving on to the next project. In the long run, it has served me well, I have thought. I have always spent most of my time at home in about 20% of the house. That’s where I always focused on making home improvements first.
Are there rebates available for triple-glazed over single-glazed window installation?
I’ve never totally understood it, but energy companies often issue substantial rebates for window products that substantially increase insulation properties of a house. Specific products get ‘certified’ in some way before they are eligible, understandably, and there are probably other requirements, too. Perhaps it’s because the money is not coming from the actual energy company, but from a city or other organization behind it, but nevertheless, the consumer can often take great advantage of this. Talk to your windows installation professional about potential rebates. They will always be interested in helping you and it is certainly ‘no skin off their nose’ if you get a rebate from a local city organization.
What window manufacturers have the best reputation for triple-glazed products?
Just like any product manufacturing space, window manufacturers vary in their suitability across their product range. One manufacturer might be excellent at vinyl framed windows, while another might be better at wood framed ones. It’s important to choose those products from the manufacturer most suited to your exact needs. This is another factor that is worth talking to your window installation professional about. Not all windows are equal, even from the same brand!
Does your home require substantial repair during the window installation project?
By the time an entire window needs to be replaced, a home often needs other work. If you’ve done a window inspection before anything else, you may know of other repairs needing to be done. If so, that will influence your decision of how much to invest overall. Perhaps it is still worth the cost of triple-glazing, but there is always an upper limit for any project. Substantial extra worth may signal a need to fix it up as best you can, and move to something in better shape.
More next week!