Over the years, the fluctuating cost of energy prices has meant an increasing number of homeowners have looked to energy efficient resources to cut household expenditure on fuel powered heating.
Tightening legislative pressure and a growing desire among consumers for cost-efficient, high-performance housing has transformed the way we build or renovate homes, with architects increasingly opting for a fabric first approach. In line with this, glazing products have continued to evolve to achieve greater levels of energy-efficiency. Today, architects and housebuilders have access to a broad range of products from advanced double-glazing to triple-glazing solutions, but what is the value to the end user?
Historically, triple-glazing has been associated with specialist eco-driven projects. However, rising demand for high performance products has meant that in recent years, triple-glazing has become more appealing for energy-conscious homeowners and subsequently, more common in the domestic market.
These units optimise the balance between the thermal performance of the glass and the proportion of solar energy passing through to retain warmth within the home, resulting in a Ug-value as low as 0.5 W/m2K.
However, there is more to triple-glazing than saving energy and smaller gas and electricity bills. For example, homeowners living near a noisy main road can benefit from the acoustic properties provided by the extra pane especially when it is of a different thickness. Similarly, triple-glazing offers improved strength and integrity over some double-glazed alternatives, as frames are often strengthened to take the additional weight of triple-glazing. This can help improve the security of a property.
Triple-glazing combined with a special low-emissivity glass such as Pilkington Optitherm™ S1A undoubtedly offers good performance across a variety of metrics. However, it isn’t always suitable for every project. Triple-glazing can also, at times, require larger frames, making it difficult to specify in certain projects or retro-fit into older properties.
In these cases, housebuilders are increasingly opting for new generation ultra-thin glazing products that have also come on to the market. These use a vacuum rather than air or argon between the two panes to achieve a similar energy efficiency performance to a highly insulating double-glazed unit, but in an even thinner profile. For example, Pilkington Spacia™ can achieve a 1.1 Ug-value – the thermal performance of double glazing – while being as thin as a single glazed unit at just 6.2 mm.
The slimmer form allows such products to be installed in older properties, often subject to refurbishment restrictions, without dramatically changing the appearance of the building.
For glass manufacturers, one of the greatest influences on research and development activity has been the rising demand for low-emissivity products. This is simply because there always has been, and we expect there always will be, the need to improve building performance and lower energy bills with high performance, thermally efficiency glazing.
As a result, today’s architects and builders have the option to installing high performance double-glazed units (if they meet local regulations) or specify triple-glazed units providing better energy efficiency and offering homeowners a return on their investment.
Visit Thermal Insulation section for more information about energy-efficient glazing.