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Single, Double, or Triple-Paned Windows: What’s Best?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Jane Ellen in Pennsylvania is looking at getting some new windows. How can we help you make that decision?

    JANE ELLEN: Yes. Well, we are looking at getting – replacing our single-pane windows. And our question is: do you think it would be more cost-effective to spend the extra money on triple-pane windows or would double-pane windows be OK? Other than the windows, the house is fairly well-insulated; it’s not real drafty. We haven’t priced our options yet, so we just were looking for an opinion.

    TOM: I think that double-pane windows will be fine. The thing is that when you shop for windows, you have all of these different features and benefits that you have to compare and contrast and sometimes it gets very confusing when you do that. What I would look for are Energy Star-rated windows and windows with double-paned glass. As long as the glass in insulated and has a low-E coating so it reflects the heat back, that’ll be fine.

    It’s been my experience that unless you live in the most severe climates, triple-pane glass doesn’t really make up the additional cost in terms of return on investment.

    JANE ELLEN: Wonderful. Thank you so much.

    TOM: What kind of windows do you have now? Are they very drafty?

    JANE ELLEN: Well, they’re single-pane windows. They’re relatively decent for single-pane but they’re old. They’re starting to – you can see the gas is starting to escape from them and they are a little drafty.

    Our house has a field behind it; our backyard kind of opens up into a field. So, there’s a significant amount of wind that comes across the field and flows into the back of the house. And off the main back area, we have a three-season room, which helps to block some of the wind from the interior downstairs. But the upstairs bedrooms, you feel the wind a little bit more significantly. We notice the single-pane windows a little bit more there; it seems more drafty right there.

    TOM: Well, I think these windows are going to make a big difference for you. Now, if you need to save some money and maybe not do them all at once, that’s fine, too. What I would do is the north and east sections of the house first – sides of the house first – and then the south and the west second. OK?

    JANE ELLEN: OK. Sounds great.

    LESLIE: I know given the winter that we’ve all had in the Northeast and pretty much all over the United States, you might think that a triple-pane glass is going to do the trick, especially when we’ve had, what, like an average of five degrees, Tom?

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I’ve got to tell you, the days that we’ve had 30- and 40-degree temperatures, I’ve put on a light jacket. I’ve seen families out with no jackets. People are out of their minds when we get 40-degree days.

    TOM: Yep. I know. We’re happy for it, right?

    LESLIE: It’s like summer.

    TOM: Alright. Well, Jane Ellen, I hope that helps you out. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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