What Do You Think of Most Efficient?

John G. Swanson
October 23, 2012
THE TALK... | Codes & Standards, Energy Efficiency

The R-5 window may be back as the Environmental Protection Agency has released its draft criteria for Most Efficient designation for windows under the Energy Star windows, doors and skylights program.  In addition to other requirements, including NAFS certification, the newest high-performance criteria sets a minimum U-factor of 0.20 for all regions of the country.

Many in the industry have supported the idea of a Most Efficient program for windows, as EPA has created in a number of other Energy Star product categories.  The Most Efficient designation provides a way to differentiate ultra-energy-efficient products, while lessening pressure to ratchet down the regular Energy Star criteria too much. 

So will you offer Most Efficient products?  That's our poll question of the week.  And, of course, I'd like to hear from you. Is Most Efficient a plus for the industry?  Will it promote demand triple-glazing and other high-performance options? Will it benefit homeowners?  Post a comment and let me know what you think.

Survey Results as of 10/24/2012:


My company:

Will probably not sell "Most Efficient" windows





Will take a wait-and-see approach to "Most Efficient" windows





Plans to offer "Most Efficient" windows as soon as possible





Will probably offer "Most Efficient" windows soon





Doesn't sell windows, so it does not apply to us.





Our poll results suggest some window and door companies will be moving forward with "Most Efficient," but it's not for everyone. That seems to be what EPA is looking for.

As comments indicate, some manufacturers are already at the performance levels necessary with some of their products.  It will be interesting to see, looking forward, if those manufacturers not offering products with those types of performance numbers will feel compelled to get there.


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Does this 'most efficient' factor apply onto to windows and doors, or can it also be applied to manufacturers of other products like perhaps furniture or even electronics? I prefer quality over anything else. If having top notch quality products means paying a little bit more money, then I honestly would not mind. This is because you spend more money for a product that lasts much longer. This means you do not need to replace it as early as you would have to as compared to a much lower quality product. In the end, you are the one who saves money.
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I have not looked into the specifics of the "Most Efficient" products yet but we have offered the most efficient windows and doors we have available to us. We understand why people buy windows and it is not to save money on heat and cold. It is amazing to me how many customers choice a superior product after I lay out the facts without an agenda. I agree with Michael Moriaty's commit that Performance Grade should be taken into consideration also.
Jerry Hartman

If the "most efficient" label testing proves to be so expensive that only a couple of companies on the east coast can afford to produce it, what good is it to me? I'm all for a "top end" product, don't get me wrong, windows and doors are after all, a hole in the wall. However, it has to be a bar attainable for all companies to offer.

Actually Deb, we're producing these products right now, and they're not so expensive that consumers can't afford them. Slightly higher, of course, but not prohibitively higher. And again, to the larger point... by definition "Most Efficient" means just that... not all companies can (at least initially) produce such a product.

Certainly the standard of "Most Efficient" is a worthy cause. However, too much emphasis is placed on these factors ignoring overall performance of a fenestration product. For example Performance Grade (PG), formerly Design Pressure (DP), which calculates air, water and structural, should be evaluated highly by the marketplace. A window that leaks water and is structurally weak could still be performing well under the "Most Efficient" criteria. The balance of the two areas is critical in the evaluation to the end consumer, contractor or owner.

While the EPA attempts to put in place a "Most Efficient" program for windows, the outcome is almost predictable. Those among us who find it difficult to achieve the goals currently proposed by the EPA will attempt to water down the specifications to a point that "Most Efficient" will more closely resemble a "Slightly Better" program.

By definition, "Most Efficient" SHOULD be difficult to achieve, SHOULD be markedly better than the standard fare, SHOULD be "best-in-class". One of the problems with the current Energy Star program is that the bar is so low that nearly every product out there qualifies. So in a world where everyone is special, no one is special.

Our position is that the "Most Efficient" windows should offer consumers a window product that has best-in-class U-Value, Solar Heat Gain, Visible Transmittance and Condensation Resistance Factor numbers, because achieving superior numbers in ONE measurement at the expense of any or all of the OTHER measurements does not equal a "Most Efficient" product.

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