Do You Know What a Home Energy Score Means To Your Business?

By Charles L. (Larry) Smith, Window & Door Dealers Alliance
May 1, 2011
COLUMN : Dealer Perspectives | Codes & Standards, Energy Efficiency

There is an adage that goes something like this: What you don't know won't hurt you.

Well, I'm not sure how true that is. It leaves an awful lot to chance. And as businessmen and women, we independent window and door dealers can't afford to leave too much to chance— especially in this economy.

One perfect example of the dangers of leaving something to chance is the Department of Energy’s new Home Energy Score program.

Let me explain. The DOE set forth a program last year that is now being piloted and tested throughout the country. The program calls for trained and certified contractors to use a standardized assessment tool developed by DOE to evaluate a home. With only about 40 inputs required, the Home Energy Scoring Tool lets a contractor evaluate a home's energy assets, like its heating and cooling systems, insulation levels and more, in generally less than an hour, according to DOE.

 DOE's proposed Home Energy Score report card

A score of "10" represents a home with excellent energy performance, while a "1" represents a home that will benefit from major energy upgrades. Along with the score, the homeowner will receive a list of recommendations for home energy upgrades and other useful tips. For each specific improvement, the estimated utility bill savings, payback period, and greenhouse gas emission reductions are included. More information on the program is available at

It is a very good concept that seeks to reduce the country's reliance on fossil fuels. For us window and door dealers, however, there is one important hook: windows and doors were conspicuously absent from any meaningful consideration within the draft guidelines. Home energy upgrades needed to have a payback of at 10 years or less, leaving much of our product out in the cold.

On April 6, I with other colleagues from the Window and Door Dealer Alliance, sought to change the direction this issue was heading. By meeting with officials from the DOE, pointing out our concerns on the 10 year payback issue, and addressing several other issues and opportunities, we not only were at the table, we were setting it.

In short, we were successful at gaining the attention of DOE officials. By emphasizing DOE’s own efforts related to energy efficient windows and doors, we earned their support to potentially modify the Home Energy Score guidelines and we are now in process of floating language their way for consideration. What’s more we learned a lot about their intentions. One example: We learned DOE is considering making this program mandatory, much like some European countries require.

As one who attended a number of recent regional and national conferences where the subject of Home Energy Score was presented and discussed, I can tell you first-hand had we not acted, the proverbial bus might've left the station without our involvement. And while it is hard to foresee where this will ultimately wind up, the early vote casting did not look good.

If you're wondering what this all means to you; in a nut shell dealers need to remain involved and vigilant on these important policy issues. In my year and half on the WDDA advisory committee, I've gained a sharper appreciation for the need of being united, active and supporting initiatives such as the WDDA.

The stakes are too high, the opportunities too strong. And as country singer Kenny Chesney reminds us in preventing time from slipping by: “Don't Blink.” We blink and opportunities may slip away.



Charles L. (Larry) Smith is president and CEO of True Home Value Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. With retail locations serving 16 states, the company installs replacement windows and doors and maintenance-free siding and trimwork, as well as offering other home improvements. Smith is also a member of the WDDA Advisory Committee.