Industry Works Hard to Promote Tax Credits; One Association Urges that Criteria be Reconciled with ENERGY STAR

March 10th, 2009 by DWM Magazine
Fiberglass clad casement window.

Weather Shields fiberglass clad casement window.

Many door and window manufacturers are taking steps to inform consumers of the tax credits available if they install energy-efficient doors and windows. With the recent passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 a tax credit is available for up to 30 percent of the door or window product, up to $1,500. To receive the tax credit, the door or window must achieve a .30 or lower U-factor and .30 or lower solar heat gain coefficient, which is more stringent than the current ENERGY STAR® specifications.

As not all door and window manufacturers offer products meeting these requirements, those that do have been busy promoting this message to consumers. One such company is the Schield Family Brands, which includes Weather Shield Windows & Doors, Peachtree Doors and Windows, Visions Windows & Doors, Crestline Windows and Doors and Vetter Windows & Doors.

Dave Koester, brand manager for the Schield Family Brands, points out that an extensive number of products and product lines from the Schield Family Brands readily qualify for the tax credit, including all-vinyl, vinyl-clad, fiberglass-clad, and even select aluminum-clad and wood windows.

“The .30/.30 criteria is stringent and difficult for many manufacturers to meet but the payoffs for individual homeowners and the country collectively will be significant in terms of energy savings,” Koester says.

Another company promoting its efficient products that qualify for the tax credit is Kolbe. The company says it offers numerous products to meet the requirements, including an online selection tool.

The online tool allows users to search and sort by glass coating, gas fill, product model, product name and product series. Kolbe’s vice president of sales and marketing, Bob Kasten, reminds users to “pay special attention to the sash and frame combinations along with the options that are shown.”

Kasten adds that to benefit from these tax credits, homeowners must maintain their own records that windows meet the qualification requirements. These records are to include receipts and the Manufacturer Certification Statement.

Some manufacturers, such as Simonton Windows, realize that it may be difficult for consumers to determine which windows meet the criteria, so it has created the www.simonton.com/taxcredit information site. The site has a question-and-answer section, downloadable forms, case studies on energy-efficient windows and links to sites with additional information. Homeowners also may order literature from the site and gain more specific details on the tax credit program.

“We believe homeowners will be exceptionally impressed and pleased with the immediate return-on-investment they’ll see by installing highly energy-efficient windows,” says Mark Savan, president of Simonton Windows. “Energy bills are reduced instantly and the home becomes more comfortable. And now, homeowners can also gain up to a $1,500 tax credit for their investment.”

Manufacturers aren’t the only ones promoting the benefits of the tax credit—some suppliers are as well. On its website the Formtek Group tells customers, “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act extends for purchases made in 2009 increased Section 179 expensing for small business equipment purchases, as well as a 50 percent bonus depreciation allowance for new machine tools and other equipment ordered and placed in service during 2009.” The site then offers a link for how companies can learn more about these tax incentives for new equipment and rebuild purchases.

However, some groups, including the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), are encouraging its members to proceed with “cautious optimism.” The association is asking the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to consider modifying specific language pertaining to expanded tax credits for energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights through 2010.

“As part of the economic stimulus bill, there is language that extends the 25C credit until 2010 and expands the credit to provide consumers up to 30 percent of the costs for qualified energy-efficient home improvements, with a total cap of $1,500 per home. While this is a dramatic improvement over the prior cap of $500, there is a catch: windows, doors and skylights must maintain both a 0.3 U-factor and a 0.3 Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) to qualify for the fenestration tax credit. These values conflict with the proposed ENERGY STAR U-factors and SHGC values and their application to appropriate regions in the United States,” says AAMA’s president and CEO Rich Walker.

Together with its members, AAMA is urging Congress to reconcile the conflicting language in Part III Energy Conservation Incentives, Section 1121, with ENERGY STAR criteria for fenestration products.
“The ENERGY STAR performance criteria were established through years of cooperative effort between the Department of Energy and window, door and skylight industry professionals and were accepted as the definitive requirement within the previous tax credit,” adds Walker. “Our industry, as a whole, has worked diligently to design their products and put in place the testing and quality control procedures to ensure compliance with ENERGY STAR requirements.”

“As it’s currently written, the stimulus bill sets a somewhat arbitrary standard that not only eliminates the majority of proven energy efficient window, door and skylight products available today, but also fails to take into account distinct differences in performance required by different climatic regions in our country,” he adds. “The combination of the sour economy and the impractical product performance provisions of the stimulus bill present our industry with enormous challenges. Realistic and technically sound fenestration provisions in the stimulus bill can provide a much-needed boost to the remodeling segment of the marketplace. AAMA will be marshalling the grassroots strength of our members and their employees in the coming weeks to lobby for a catalyst rather than a tranquilizer.”

Some manufacturers, like the Schield family, brand don’t agree with AAMA’s position.

In a March 6, 2009, letter to the President, Kevin Schield, vice president of Schield Family Brands, noted that the Act provides critical new incentives to encourage homeowners to purchase energy-efficient doors and windows.

“The new incentives will help fulfill the President’s goal of making our Nation more energy efficient and help stimulate spending in the severely depressed housing market,” Schield said. “The Schield Family Brands has already received inquiries from retailers anxious to stock our windows and doors to meet the demand expected under the Act.”

According to the letter, Schield is dismayed and disappointed by the efforts of fenestration industry associations to weaken the performance standards required of windows and doors eligible for the Act’s incentives in order for more manufacturers’ products to qualify.

“The reality is that the Schield Family Brands—and many of its competitors—are able to produce windows and doors to the standards of the Act,” Schield wrote. “Any company in the industry could produce to these standards if they choose to make the effort that The Schield Family Brands and others have already undertaken. We urge you to resist firmly any efforts to undermine the energy conservation standards established in the stimulus bill.

CLICK HERE for a consumer-oriented article about how tax credits will affect Midwesterners.
CLICK HERE for a similar article written for the North Carolina market.



3 comments
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  1. I don’t know if your publication family cares a hoot about skylights, but you need to look at the damage this law will do by excluding the best double-pane skylights from being “in the game” to replace plastic bubbles and aluminum framed skylights. The arbitrary U-Factor limits for windows and doors were incorrectly applied to skylights as well.
    Codes force unit skylights to project 4″ from the envelope, and then NFRC rates them in a sloped position. Both of these effects cause the typical glass skylight U-Factor to be 70% worse than an identically-built window installed in a wall. And TDDs (tubular daylighting devices) bring free light to spaces that cannot accommodate windows, and even they are not able to qualify. What’s wrong with this picture? Can anything be done? Would you write a feature on this? 20,000 U.S. jobs will be at risk if it is left as is.

  2. I agree with Kevin Schield, any manufacturer should be able to achieve the required numbers and to lower them will hurt the energy saving basis for the tax credt. The whole idea of the credit is to reduce energy usage in existing homes, it was not done to stmulate the remodeling industry. For our leading industry association, AAMA, to support lower standards is upsetting to many manufacturers. Virtually all of our products meet the standards with any of our 6 low e glass offerings. Being Energy Star Partner of the year for the sixth year in a row and Green Seal Certified, we embrace these tougher standards, and if anything think they should have been even tougher to really conserve energy in the United States.

  3. If, as a country, we do not make active and bold strides to be more energy efficient, we will always be dependent on foreign oil. “years of cooperative effort”? Yes. Years wasted Mr. Walker. Simply put lower U-Factors reduce energy consumption. Require Air infiltration results to be printed as well. Better performing windows make our country stronger.

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