Tyson's
by Tyson Schwartz
August 6th, 2012

Weighing in on the New Energy Star Draft

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the new draft proposal for Energy Star in 2014. In my opinion, the “biggest” news about the draft is having a U-value of a .27 for northern climates. Having worked with the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) for many years, there has been a strong emphasis on trying to create a ‘Super Window’ category. According to the people I spoke to at these agencies, they really want Energy Star to become more exclusive in terms of labeling. This may very well be part of their ‘Most Efficient’ program they have for other products.

However, based on the new draft, I would say there has been a shift away from this ‘Super Window’ program being the sole measuring category. I also hope that Energy Star is looking to be more inclusive with their labeling rather than less. Consumers look towards the Energy Star label as a measuring stick of whether a window is energy efficient or not. My belief of moving away from this methodology and only labeling the top 5 percent of energy efficient windows, as was discussed with me 12-18 months ago, would be a mistake.

Also, I do believe it is up to our industry to constantly look to improve the energy efficiency of our windows and bring them to the marketplace as competitively as possible. I know of many competitors and glass companies that are already experimenting with the ‘next generation’ of glass products. Over the next several years, there are going to be some exciting developments with glass and our industry will be on the forefront of introducing these new glass technologies.

But getting back to the Energy Star draft, I strongly encourage everyone to weigh in with feedback to windows@energystar.gov . We have until September 28, to provide thoughts and opinions on the new proposal. This is a great forum to have your voice heard and I would also say this is probably why the U-value proposals in the Northern Climate were adjusted from a .25 to a .27.

I am curious of your thoughts and comments on the new draft. Do you like the U-value adjustment? Would you like to see it higher or lower? What about the air infiltration criteria? Please share your comments with us by posting a comment here.

Great Selling!



2 comments
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  1. I think the EPA has cart before the horse. In my opinion, they should propose a deadline for glass companies, in coalition with window manufacturers to develop new products that not only improve the “U” values but also include an accelerated test for structural integrity over say, a five year period.

    It’s easy to improve widow performance with bigger, bulkier frames. It’s also easy to redesign windows for triple pane glass. Adding triple pane glass adds several negative factors. The weight of sashes is increased by a whopping 50%+-, which increases the incidence of seal failures, stress cracks, and hardware failure. All of that translates into significantly higher prices to the end users, in the form of added costs to manufacture, added cost in materials, and added cost to cover the inevitable failures. The wight of triple pane sashes in double hungs that tilt in for cleaning or slider sashes that have to be removed for cleaning is a negative that I have already experienced with current windows when builders have requested triple pane via their customers.

    Guardian is working on a ceramic spacer that improves the “U” values and actually reduces the air space. That is a wonderful innovation, but from what I have read, it is still in the developmental stages and not ready for consumer products.

    I’d have to believe that Cardinal and other glass companies are working on other innovations that are beyond my ability to guess about. I’m also sure that major window manufacturers are working to improve their frames and weatherstripping, but if the EPA just mandates the change, without reasonable expectations that new developments are in the wind, I think we will be faced with a lot of triple pane windows that will be prone to failure AND let’s not forget the high energy costs of manufacturing glass, which will offset much of the energy savings in a smaller “U” value. Kinda reminds me of ethanol from corn. From what I have read, ethanol is a net energy loser or break even.

    Also, the stress test I mentioned will reduce the number of window manufacturers that will simply make room for triple pane without considering long term structural integrity.

  2. I also find it very difficult to have the test cycle and the Energy Star changes being a bad match. You have to have testing for the new windows complete before your last tests are coming close to expiring.

    The advantage of solar heat gain is being lost. It is becoming more evident that the DOE is just favoring one window for the overall market without mandating a minimum SHGC for northern markets.

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