Are You Signing the Petition?

John G. Swanson
April 16, 2013
THE TALK... | Codes & Standards

We report this week on a new campaign launched to block, revise and/or delay Version 6 criteria for Energy Star windows, set to go in effect early next year. The Coalition for Home Energy Efficiency has been formed by a group of industry manufacturers and others who are concerned that Energy Star windows will no longer be cost effective products, particularly in the Northern tier of the country.

The petition reflects the concerns many window manufacturers have about the cost of upgrading their product lines to accommodate triple-glazing to meet the new criteria.  To date, it's already attracted 15,000 signatures.  Of course, I know there are other manufacturers who support the more stringent proposed requirements.  A few were disappointed that EPA didn't go lower with their U-value numbers.

Anyway, I thought we'd use this week's poll to gauge the industry's opinion on Version 6.  We want to hear from you too.  Did you sign the petition?  Should the new requirements be delayed or revised?  If not, should EPA move forward with the new criteria?  Post a comment or email me to share your thoughts. 

 

Survey Results as of 04/23/2013 :

Energy Star Version 6 criteria...

Should be revised before it takes effect.

  

 

49%

 

Should be officially adopted by EPA and take effect next year.

  

 

47%

 

Should move forward, but delayed a year before taking effect.

  

 

3%

 

 

Our poll results suggest the industry is divided on the new Energy Star criteria.  Feedback that came my way was also divided. 

"The Energy Star Version 6 performance requirements should be revised," noted one opponent. "The proposed changes will cost millions (if not billions) of dollars to implement at the manufacturer level and will raise the cost of Energy Star window and door products to a level where they will be unaffordable to many homeowners and will no longer provide an attractive return on investment for those who can...."

He goes on to add that triple-glazed products also come along with a 50 percent increase in sash weight and a 100 percemt increase in the lineal footage of IG sealant.  "Both of these things will have significant adverse effects of the durability and service life of products that will be overly expensive in the first place."

I did hear from supporters of the change, but they didn't offer reasons why.   I would note that the manufacturers I've spoken to that do support Version 6 tend to have products that already meet or exceed the criteria. They made the investment to get there already and clearly see a competitive advantage if the requirements do get more stringent.  It will be interesting to see what the Environmental Protection Agency, which manages the Energy Star program, decides.

Comments

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I'm very concerned that the new requirements will lead to fewer choices for consumers. Everybody is for clean air and reducing our energy use but this type of thinking goes too far and could not come at a worse time. It's a simple act of economics that as prices go up, demand goes down. Many will certainly be priced out of the market for new windows. I'd also like to know why the EPA doesn't address air leakage ratings. At this time, window manufacturers are not required to publish air leakage ratings. If they were, there would be more motivation for companies to improve their ratings. Many windows that meet the DOE5 standard are leaky and do not perform well. Lets focus on that first. The triple pane glass options are already available. Let's keep them optional, not federal mandated.

Steve,

I'm not sure from where the basis of your historic perspective of Energy Star comes, but I recall my introduction to the program, delivered to a Northeast Window and Door meeting in the early 1990s. The program first focused on computers and appliances, then moved on to windows a couple years later. You are partially correct in that it was initially a marketing campaign, and just how it was going to be implemented had yet to be determined. I remember commenting that this was typical government - first the marketing, then the product. However, the program had nothing to do with "stimulating window sales in an extremely slow market", as the market for windows at that time was very robust.

As Energy Star became more and more familiar to consumers, we, as an industry, made products that met the increased performance requirements to qualify. This was the intent of the program, so in that respect, it was successful in its mission. However, over the years, there have been so many products that qualify, it's hard for the average consumer to tell the really good performers versus the barely qualifying one, so aptly pointed out by Josh C's comment, "A bedsheet in a frame could get an Energy Star rating..."

The recent addition of windows to the Energy Star Most Efficient category will help differentiate the better products from the average ones, and this will, once again, help consumers with making informed buying decisions.

I strongly disagree with your assertion that the current (and presumably, future) Energy Star program is "an insidious leveraging tool" (whatever that is) used by large scale window manufacturers. In point of fact, it's the smaller, more nimble players who are better suited to meet the proposed performance standards of ES2014, and it's the larger players who are pushing back.

The real danger, as I see it, of the proposed Energy Star performance requirements lies not in the performance standard themselves, but in the proposed mandate that ONLY Energy Star rated products... those meeting ES2014 standards... could be sold. This would have a huge negative impact on our industry, as it takes away from the consumer the right to choose a product that otherwise might be a wise economic choice, and one within their budget.

It's as if the government decided that while Detroit could make vehicles with a wide range of miles per gallon, say from 6 to 60, the consumer could only purchase those (certainly more expensive) vehicles which got 50 mpg and above. Both actions take buying decisions out of the consumer's hands and put them into the government's hands, in nothing more than an attempt to achieve their agenda of "decreased greenhouse gases". And this is a real danger.

By the way, I take personal offense to your assertion that we work in the "second oldest profession". If you have such a low regard for the arena you've chosen for your career, perhaps it's time to reevaluate your life choices.

John,

The so called energy star program has gone from a washington think tank marketing strategy designed simply to stimulate window sales in an extremely slow market, to an insidious leveraging tool used by large scale window manufacturers to eliminate their competition by front-loading increased performance requirements on already undercapitalized smaller companies.
Nowhere in this equasion, will you find an interest in actually realizing a lower-cost for higher-efficiency ratio for the consumer.
Now, more than ever, the window business has earned it's name as the world's second oldest profession!

Sincerely,
Steve Silverio
Victor Sun Control

It's about time the "standards" for Energy Star start resembling an actual standard. The certification now is a joke - a bedsheet in a frame could get an energy star rating as it stands.

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