If you’ve ever been to any of the Scandinavian countries you’ll have noticed how most of the windows in homes, hotels and businesses are triple glazed. It’s small wonder, when temperatures in the north of Norway, Sweden and Finland can get down to minus 35C! Imagine that, nice and toasty with three layers of glass keeping out the chill… So why other European countries don’t start adopting triple glazing?
Actually not that cold there
Unless you’re in Northern Scotland, you’re not likely to see extreme cold here, certainly not minus 35C! The UK is in a temperate zone and is warmed by the Gulf Stream, so, realistically, it’s double glazing in Hampshire and triple glazing in Halmstad! Towns and cities in the far north of Scandinavia need all the help they can get to stay warm, so triple – and in some cases quadruple – glazing is the answer.
In fact, the double glazed doors and windows we have access to in most European countries with mild climate are more than good enough, especially so after the developments and innovations of the last decade. This means that any homeowner thinking of spending extra money on triple glazing may well be overdoing it – in fact, a simple upgrade to more modern double glazing will improve things without the extra spend!
What about noise reduction?
Another often-touted benefit of triple glazing is its soundproofing abilities. Think about how much outside noise is eliminated when you shut a double glazed window, then think about how much more you’d be blocking out if your windows had three panes instead of two. How good would this be if you live near an airport or in a busy inner city?
Maybe not so much better, as to really block out noise, the materials stopping sound waves need to be of different thicknesses. So, unless the cavities and the panes in triple glazing were of different widths, the noise reduction wouldn’t be increased by enough to justify the cost. Most window makers do use panes and air spaces that are the same widths, as this keeps production costs lower.
There are, however, double glazed windows specially designed for noise reduction, as they use two different thicknesses of glass. This combination should serve most householders well enough, unless they live by a firing range!
The cost of triple glazing
The costs of triple glazing have come down in recent years, as is often the case with newer technologies and products, but these windows are still pricier than the more familiar double glazing. This higher cost, for uncertain benefits, is the major reason why it is unlikely to see a sudden surge in demand for triple glazing any time soon. A few households have installed triple glazing, but in most cases this has been part of a green makeover – many passivhaus builds or retrofitting projects use triple rather than double glazed windows.
There’s also the fact that our winters are becoming warmer and wetter, of course, as climate change makes itself more obvious – all the more reason to reduce your energy use by installing decent double glazing!