Windows are literally big news. Gone is the 18th century window tax which saw folk bricking them up to save money. Gone the 19th century perception of windows as holes in the wall letting light in and warm air out.
Sky lights, patio doors, stained glass; modern Britain loves windows. Which means no shortage of people trying to sell them.
Do you go with double or triple glazing? Is it as simple as ‘triple glazing is best’? Is quadruple glazing the right option for you? Let us shed some light on the issue and lead you through the ‘paneful’ decision…
Everyone has double glazing these days! Surely. If you’re thinking this, you might be very wrong, there are still many who live in a single glazed house with radiators carefully positioned so as to allow warm air to escape without bothering to circulate the room. This is for them.
Admittedly the payback time for double glazing - the time it takes for your energy savings to equal the installation cost - is famously poor; between 16 and 200 years by some estimates.
However, double glazing does add value to your property. Plus, as the excellent How to Reduce Your Home Energy Bills points out, these days double glazing can involve simply DIY-ing extra panels to your existing frames; the ones with magnetic strips are great at stopping drafts at a very low cost
Double-glazing might also save you money in the long run by helping to reduce condensation, which can cause mold, rot and rust.
Triple glazing sellers will tell you, truthfully, that the difference in energy loss between a single glazed and a triple glazed window is 90%. As around a quarter of the heat generated in a home escapes through the windows.
However, it’s the single-to-double upgrade that’s the most effective; triple glazing isn’t three times better than single. The payback time on triple glazing is generally worse than even double glazing too, and doesn’t have the same sell-your-home factor.
That said, are you taking for granted that no-one in your house wants to sit near the window? Triple glazing is excellent at removing cold spots, which can increase the useable space in your rooms.
The frustration of deciding whether double or triple glazing is best arises because what you’ll spend or save is highly personal. The overall cost depends on how large your windows are, the type of windows you’re replacing, the quality of the new glazing, and how you currently heat your home (people using oil will save a lot more than those using electricity).
Some companies offer triple glazing at a discount or even for free, in which case go for it; it’s definitely, cost aside, ‘better’. The Energy-Smart House by Fine Homebuilding raves about triple glazing, but accepts it’s hard to justify unless your house is already super insulated.
If you live in a German Passivhaus, an upgrade from double to triple could mean no heating bills at all and a silent night’s sleep. So ultimately, and unhelpfully, it is up to you. Although triple glazing is an obvious step up, whether you should get it depends on the deal you find.
Builder Jeff Howell warns to avoid being swayed by ‘techno babble’ and pseudoscience from window companies; it really is up to you, and what you feel is good value.Wait, we didn’t cover quadruple glazing! I hear you cry.
Well… unless you live in a part of the UK that reaches minus 30 degrees in winter, or see one-upping the neighbors as a national sport, the double-triple debate should take up enough time for now.
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