New Legislation Ties Tax Credits to Energy Star

October 16, 2009

The Window & Door Manufacturers Association is applauding new legislation introduced by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that would modify the existing tax credit for energy efficient windows, doors and skylights by tying it to Energy Star criteria standards for fenestration products. Specifically, the bill (S.1792) would replace the .30/.30 standard for the $1,500 tax credit with the 2010 Energy Star standards. It would apply to purchases in 2010.

"The one-size-fits-all approach of the current tax credit fails to recognize that different regions of the country require different standards to achieve improved energy efficiency depending on climate. A window, door or skylight designed to protect from the cold winters of the North is not ideal to face the heat of a Southern summer," says Michael O'Brien, WDMA executive vice president. "Established Energy Star standards, widely recognized by consumers, builders and retailers, recognize these differences and have different requirements for four different regions."

Further, the current tax credit tied to the .30/.30 standard effectively eliminates skylights from even qualifying for tax credits, WDMA officials note. Skylights are installed in a non-vertical application, and are also tested that way. They also project above the plane of the roof, unlike windows which are installed in the plane of the wall. Because of this, their U-factor is higher than windows of identical construction. In addition, skylights are installed expressly to admit daylight. The 0.30 SHGC is actually too dark in the Northern zones of the country and eliminate beneficial solar heat gain.

"Modification of this tax credit has been a top priority for WDMA," says Steve Tourek, senior vice president and general counsel for Marvin Windows & Doors and current WDMA chair. "We commend Senators Rockefeller and Grassley for their leadership in introducing this bill, which, if passed, will result in consumers purchasing the most appropriate energy efficient windows, doors and skylights for their region of the country, while carrying out the original intent of the credit, which was to help stimulate the housing economy."