Phase one of the Department of Energy’s “Highly-Insulating R-5 Windows and Low-E Storm Windows Volume Purchase Program” was launched in May of this year, but as Graham Parker of Pacific Northwest Laboratories told attendees during a recent industry event, the program is evolving continually. Parker recently offered some insights into phase two of the program, which involves possible changes in the pricing structure.

“Consumers are livid that they can’t get a price for a window on the website,” said Parker, who mentioned he really would like to see prices listed on the website. Currently, potential buyers have to send a request, then wait for a manufacturer to get back to them with a price.

“This is going to be discussed in phase two,” hinted Parker.

He also encouraged manufacturers to publicize their R-5 windows. He said he has visited websites of companies participating in the program and in many cases he can’t find a mention of R-5 products.

Parker also addressed the concerns of some in the industry who wonder if consumers will purchase windows online.

“People buy cars on a website—why not windows?” asked Parker.

Someone in the audience replied, “You don’t have to install a car.”

Parker’s response: “It’s a voluntary program and if vendors are not comfortable, they can choose to pull out or not participate.”

One manufacturer suggested that the organizers (DOE, etc.) are setting the price.

“DOE is not setting the price. Manufacturers bid their prices into the program,” said Parker.

One of those manufacturers is Sunrise Windows, and Sunrise president Gary Delman recently told DWM that he agrees the program will evolve continually.

“R-5 is the beginning point, not the end point,” said Delman. “There is definitely going to be a heightened awareness [due to the program]. We are designing some new products today and anticipating that the bar will be higher than it is right now.”

Delman concurred that changes may be coming in the pricing structure—and in fact may be necessary.

“A price is listed for a white window with no options, etc,” he said. “But once you start talking to the homeowner about options that can change—there has to be that interaction.”

Sunrise does publicize its R-5 window options on its website and Delman said that many homeowners are interested in these products, regardless of whether or not it’s through the DOE program.

“A number of dealers want to do more to sell highly efficient windows so that’s where we see the growth,” says Delman.

“It is important to create the need for these products,” he adds. “The program has definitely raised awareness.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the R-5 program, be sure to mark your calendar now for Fenestration Day on April 7, 2011, in Indianapolis. Parker and Delman will serve as two panelists on a session discussing R-5 windows. The event is sponsored by DWM magazine.

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