The Coalition for Home Energy Efficiency, a group of citizens, manufacturers and retailers who want to “preserve and protect the Energy Star program and its promise of an easy choice for consumers,” launched a campaign on April 15 to “save” the Energy Star program. The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) is one industry group whose members support the campaign.
The group’s efforts started with a Change.org petition to the President and Congress opposing proposed changes to the Energy Star program that would “price Energy Star-rated windows and skylights out of reach for average consumers and make affordable energy-efficient options harder to identify.”
“The Energy Star program enjoys the support of consumers, retailers and manufacturers,” says Michael O’Brien, CEO of the WDMA. “We think it’s worth saving and that’s why our association is supporting the Coalition’s efforts.”
The coalition’s website states: “When you make a major purchase of an energy-efficient product, do you expect to get something back in the way of energy savings? Most people do, and with good reason; Energy Star products often cost more than less energy-efficient products.
“For doors, windows and skylights, the ‘life of the product’ can be 25 years or more, but research has confirmed that most consumers expect to have their investment in high-efficiency products paid back in 10 years or less. Unfortunately, the proposed Energy Star changes will not meet consumer expectations in large parts of the country.”
Those interested in signing this petition are asked to pledge their support on the group’s website. The letter, addressed to the President of the United States, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives states: “Rather than offering cost-effective energy-efficient options for consumers, the proposed new Energy Star standards would increase the cost of efficient products too much. As a result, in most parts of the U.S., it would take consumers many years to recoup their investment and begin seeing real cost savings.
“Replacing single-pane windows continues to be the ‘low-hanging fruit’ when retrofitting a home for greatest energy efficiency gains. Significant energy savings can be achieved by the replacement of these windows with higher efficiency models …
“If the Energy Star program moves to a standard that fails to properly consider cost-effectiveness as a criteria, I’m concerned that the result could be significant cost increases, longer payback periods, and a missed opportunity to capture energy savings. I strongly oppose abandoning the Energy Star’s program’s original mission and guiding principles of cost-effective energy savings, which benefit consumers and the environment,” reads the petition.
O’Brien adds that WDMA members are united in their concern about an apparent change in direction for the Energy Star program away from identifying cost-effective energy efficient products for a broad consumer market. WDMA counts many past and current winners of Energy Star Partner Awards among its members, proof of the industry’s long-standing commitment to the program.
The coalition even goes so far to say on its website that: “Now there’s a proposal in Washington that would break this promise by setting the requirements for Energy Star windows and skylights at a point where the products would become so expensive, the average consumer would not be able to recoup the additional cost in a reasonable amount of time. The proposed version 6 criteria would change required energy-performance ratings for windows and skylights in large parts of the country, making triple-paned products or the use of expensive technologies the most viable ways for manufacturers to qualify for the Energy Star label.
“Most ENERGY STAR windows sold now are more affordable double-paned products. Energy efficient double-paned windows still would be widely available to consumers, but shoppers would need to decipher U-factors, solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC) and other such data on their own to decide which windows is a good value. The proposed new rules would effectively strip average consumers of the ‘easy choice’ upon which they’ve learned to rely. If these proposed changes move forward, who knows which products will be next?”
Although not a member of the Coalition, Rich Walker, president and CEO of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), says the association is “evaluating membership.” He did weigh in on the latest Energy Star proposed changes.
“Throughout the development of Energy Star 6.0, AAMA membership has repeatedly voiced concerns about the onerous costs borne by homeowners and manufacturers to meet the proposed U-factor and SHGC criteria,” he says. “The new criteria are counterproductive in that unnecessarily stringent performance criteria will actually result in fewer replacements of inefficient doors, windows and skylights and fewer installations of more energy-efficient products in new housing.
“Abandoning currently available and affordable doors, windows and skylights that meet the stringent energy-efficiency requirements of Energy Star 5.0 forces homeowners to purchase fenestration with only an incremental increase in efficiency. These significantly higher product costs and considerably extended payback periods will endanger the overall intent of the Energy Star program,” he adds.
Walker notes that “it is unfortunate that a citizen’s petition must be used as a tool to garner the attention of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the shortcomings of Energy Star 6.0.”
“While the Coalition for Home Energy Efficiency petition may assist in eliciting broader support for postponing a change to Energy Star criteria, AAMA will continue to work with EPA to delay implementation of Version 6.0 and to develop reasonable window criteria that will truly reduce energy usage in the U.S,” he says.