What Do You Think of the Proposed Energy Star Criteria?

Christina Lewellen
July 30, 2012
THE TALK... | Codes & Standards, Energy Efficiency

We knew the day was coming—the Environmental Protection Agency recently released its draft proposal for the future of the Energy Star program for windows, doors and skylights last week. With a plan that calls for changes to take effect in January 2014, the draft includes U-factor requirements that may  lessen the need for manufacturers to pursue triple-glazed products to carry the Energy Star label.

After you have a moment to digest the proposal, let me know what you think. Are the changes reasonable, given that many companies in the industry are still recovering from the worst economic downturn in modern times? Should the numbers be more stringent? What do you think of the new air leakage and installation instruction requirements?

We certainly encourage you to provide your feedback to the EPA before the comment period expires in late September. But let us know what your gut reaction is by posting a comment or sending me an email. Did the proposed Energy Star draft get it right?


Survey Results as of 08/07/2012:


What do you think of EPA's 2014 Energy Star proposals?

They should have been more stringent




They are too stringent




They are just about right




A bit of a surprise, quite frankly, that our poll results suggest much of the industry thinks the proposed 2014 Energy Star criteria should be tougher. My guess is that much of this contingent has already reached or taken steps to get to the Department of Energy R-5 performance goal for windows, as well as investing in marketing efforts touting that level of energy efficiency.

The poll may not accurately reflect the actual mix of opinion within the industry on this issue, but the results suggest that if and when EPA moves to add a "Most Efficient" designation to the Energy Star windows program, many companies will be ready to get there.

Contact Christina Lewellen, senior editor, at clewellen@glass.org.


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Energy conservation is a good thing, but as the standards keep being raised, so is the cost of the product. With these higher costs being passed onto the end user, what is the payback time period for the customer? Our government keeps adding additional regulations that add costs to all, are we really gaining anything?

While I completely support ENERGY STAR moving to raise the bar and move both our industry and society forward, there are some aspects of the process that are not being addressed.

The first is, at what point will getting an ENERGY STAR window actually cost a consumer money compared to getting an inferior window? We all know that each energy improvement (baring technological breakthroughs) costs more for a smaller benefit, or it would have been done first! I believe that we are at the point where the next round of ENERGY STAR windows could be on the wrong side of perceived payback for the consumer.

Yes, there are hidden costs to high energy usage. If a state can avoid building that next power generation facility, the consumer will not have to pay for it, however, that is an indirect cost and not easily understood by consumers. Also, if someone decided to buy the more costly windows to benefit society and their neighbor didn't, then they would, in essence, be taxing themselves!

A second issue that bothers me is durability and longevity. As an industry, we are great at putting out info that is a lot like the highway mileage label on a new car. What both the car and window industry fail to do effectively is show which car or window will better be delivering the labeled performance down the road.

I guess that's enough of a rant for now.

Hi Philip.

Your excellent points regarding the ongoing Energy Star initiative generated two questions that I wanted to pose:

First, do the new U-value and SHGC standards include any "mandatory use" language? Or, are the new criteria similar to other energy standards(IeCC, etc.) to the extent that they are subject to local municipal interpretation/adoption? If Energy Star remains a label, it will be primarily a marketing tool for companies seeking product differentiation, whis is OK but does not always drive the average consumer to act.

Second (and this may drive fellow professionals crazy), do you think there a good reason why different U-value standards should exist based on installation location/zone/latitude? Using your auto analogy, the MPG for car X sold in Tampa = the MPG for the same car X sold in Minneapolis. Building envelope components leak energy, whether through loss of cooling or heat. Shouldn't we be equally concerned about minimizing loss regardless of the location?

I am not judging...just asking.

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