Judging from recent non-metal spacer sales, the 30-30 tax incentive is definitely making an impact on high-performance window sales. We now have a market condition where the very best window components now not only increase product performance, but they also reduce product cost. How can a consumer say “no” to that?

Say you are looking at buying 16 windows at $130 apiece, the NFRC U-value is .33 and the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is .31, so the purchase does not qualify for the tax credit. The salesperson then tells you that a window system is available at $165 that has a U-value of .30 and a SHGC of .30 so it does qualify. The first purchase would cost you a total of $2240 whereas the more energy efficient windows that meet the guidelines for the tax credit will cost you only $1848 after the 30 percent tax credit is factored into the net cost. That represents a difference of $232.

Installation cost does not qualify for the energy tax credit, but some contractors are getting around this by rolling the installation cost into the price of the window and marketing it as “free installation.”  This makes the savings even greater. If the scenario just mentioned included “free installation,” we might see an installed price of $3,280 vs. $3,840 for the more energy efficient windows. However, with the tax credit, the more energy efficient windows now net out at $2,688. So, at the end of the year, higher performance costs $592 less, not even counting the energy savings!

In a market where higher performance now costs less, suppliers marketing components that feature low or medium grade thermal performance now suddenly find themselves at a distinct disadvantage whereas high-performance glass and spacer products are enjoying a very nice sales boost! What this also does is “condition” the market to be predisposed to high-performance products even after energy-efficient tax credits disappear. Over the next several years, all of the salespeople in the supply chain will be selling even more high-performance glazing options including triple stack low-E, reduced SHGC coatings, highest performance warm-edge and gas. Sales training sessions will maintain a focus upon these technologies. Through the course of everyday discussions and sales presentations, window salespeople will increase their proficiency level with respect to high-performance features and benefits of high-performance window components. All of the sudden, selling on price is no longer as important.

So, long after the energy tax credits disappear, if they even do (the government may choose to carry them forward beyond 2010), the window market is now being conditioned and permanently transformed. When it comes to selling windows, performance and value will be the order of the day.

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