Single-glazed windows are good. Double-glazed windows are better. Does that mean triple-glazed windows are the best choice? The answer is not as clear as you might think.
More than just a view to the outside
Windows are often called the "eyes" of a home. But they offer more than just a view out to the world. They also serve as insulation, protecting a home or building's interior not only from air and moisture but also sound.
Windows are usually discussed in terms of panes or glazes -- the words are often used interchangeably, though window glazing also includes the weatherproof seal between the window and its frame. If a window has more than one pane of glass, the panes are not layered one on top of the other; rather, they're separated by a thin layer of air or gas. The more panes of glass and layers of air the window has, the more insulation it provides.
Many homeowners and property investors will opt for double-glazed windows, as they more than do the trick for muffling sound and keeping energy costs down. But then there's the allure of the triple-glazed window. Won't a triple layer of protection be better? The simple answer is yes, but you might not need that much protection, depending on a few factors.
Climate and windows
Thicker windows will retain heat better. That's why double- and triple-glazed windows are good choices for cold-weather climates; you'll keep all that heat inside where it belongs. If you live in New England, triple-glazed windows are a great way to combat the notoriously cold winters. But if you're in New Mexico, double-glazed windows are certainly a good move.
The noise factor
Noise is always an issue in urban areas and apartment buildings, which is why landlords want at least double-glazed glass to keep noise out and keep tenants happy. (There's a funny scene in the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective where Jim Carrey demonstrates this very notion, but I digress.)
If you've got luxury properties -- particularly high-rise apartment buildings -- then you might want to go with triple-glazed windows to add to the premium lifestyle.
Cost vs. value of triple-glazed windows
According to Modernize.com, the average cost of a triple-paned window is $550-$1085, plus installation. You'll basically pay around 15% to 20% more than you would for double-paned windows.
While triple-glazed windows are certainly an upgrade from double, don't start replacing perfectly good windows to do it. And don't assume that triple-glazed are the way to go if you have a new build, either. Yes, there's value in triple-glazed windows that comes from the savings in energy costs to the tune of 20% to 30%. But don't expect to recoup that investment just yet; in fact, it could take as many as 30 years before you do. So the choice really depends on how long you'll have the property so that you have a chance at ROI.
The bottom line
Sometimes the best option isn't always, well, the best option. This is certainly true with windows. Before committing to triple-glazed windows for your property, consider how long you'll have it. If you're not in it for the long term, then double-glazed windows are a fine alternative.