In 1977 the President of the United States of America interrupted all public television broadcasts to announce to the American people he was declaring war–War on Energy.

President Jimmy Carter announced a strategy to win the Energy War, “I’m proposing a bold conservation program to involve every state, county, and city and every average American in our energy battle. This effort will permit you to build conservation into your homes and your lives at a cost you can afford.”

The President enlisted industry to help… “as they did in World War II to mobilize and win the Energy War.”

The door and window industry answered the President’s call to action. The manufacturers who supplied Milanese Remodeling made a new commitment to energy efficient products. BF Rich introduced vinyl replacement windows with insulated glass. Scatton introduced replacement style insulated prime doors with thermal breaks and magnetic seals. Alside introduced insulated vinyl siding and aluminum foil house wraps.

Milanese Remodeling embraced and promoted these new products as “weapons” designed to “fight energy loss” and allow us to “Win the Energy War.” Our installers dressed in combat fatigues bought at the Army and Navy Store on Main Street to tell the world we were soldiers fighting the Energy War on the home front.

The President told us the stakes were high, “The alternative may be a national catastrophe. Further delay can affect our strength and our power as a nation.”

He made bold predictions, “If we do not act, our factories will not be able to keep our people on the job…. people will lose their jobs… If we fail to act soon, we will face an economic, social and political crisis that will threaten our free institutions.”

He told us of the grave consequences if we failed to fight and win the Energy War, “If we wait, we will live in fear of embargoes. We could endanger our freedom as a sovereign nation to act in foreign affairs.” Soon, he said, “We would not be able to import enough oil — from any country, at any acceptable price.”

He chastised the American people, “Ours is the most wasteful nation on earth. We waste more energy than we import. With about the same standard of living, we use twice as much energy per person as other countries like Germany, Japan, and Sweden.”

He gave us hope and challenged us, “We can decide to act while there is time. Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and be the equivalent of war.”

Jimmy Carter’s words are just as true today, even though we have been engaging the enemy for more than 35 years. We continue to fight battles in our Energy War every day. At the gas pumps, at our workplace and in our homes. Especially in our homes.

Americans still consume more than twice the energy per person than any other major developed country. Home energy usage is the largest drain on America’s energy resources. If we continue to consume our national energy resources for our homes we will not be able to fuel industry affordably or compete in the global marketplace with manufactured goods. We must continue to fight the Energy War—it must be won at home.

Are we any closer to winning the Energy War declared by President Jimmy Carter? Has our industry mobilized to the extent needed to win the War on Energy as industry did in World War II when our factories built whatever was needed to win the battles and the wars in Europe and the Pacific?

Since WWII, America has entered into wars in Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve fought invaders, ideology, energy and terror without clearly defined enemies or goals. Without clearly defined enemies and goals, how can we win?

Terry Rex, BF Rich Windows and Doors vice president of sales and marketing, recently participated in an intense discussion with Energy Star officials attempting to set goals that are understandable and reachable. Terry is a proponent of a plan that will allow us to win the Energy War by defining a clear goal that will amount to a victory.

Terry told me, “The goal for 2020 is of an overall R-10 window and eventually a window that will collect more energy than it releases.” Imagine the “Positive Energy Window” that is super energy-efficient and combined with means to produce energy so it creates more energy than it loses! Using “Positive Energy Windows” along with other upgraded Energy Star products would allow us to create “Positive Energy Homes” from existing housing stock. Positive Energy Homes would allow us to finally declare victory in the Energy War. That battle won would be a legacy our generation could be proud of – perhaps as proud as the greatest generation is of winning World War II.

Winston Churchill said, “Americans never fail to do the right thing, after all other alternatives have been exhausted.” All other alternatives have been exhausted. The Positive Energy Home is, perhaps, our last best chance to win the Energy War.

The Energy War is still worth fighting and winning for America. I hope the door and window industry will mobilize as never before to win the Energy War. I encourage door and and window industry leaders to command this fight and not be afraid of the battle. The leaders who invest in research and development, who invent and produce windows and doors with Energy War winning technology will surely profit. They will also be heroes in victory of one of the most important wars America will ever fight.


  1. Great Blog Mark and yes, we can win the Energy War, but not unless consumers are encouraged by our leaders to invest in more energy efficient fenestration products. According to a recent DWM article written by Ric Jackson of Quanex, only 7% of U.S. homes currently have windows made with Low-e glass! Perhaps it all began with the Carter administration, but what is the current administration doing to fuel support for more energy efficient window upgrades?

  2. Thanks Jim. That is really hard to believe – only 7%???
    What else could government do to help us win the Energy War at home? I agree that government has to play a larger role in this “war” to win. After all the government paid industry to mobilize in WWII….
    I also agree with James Earl Jones who said “If you build it they will come” in The Field of Dreams… I think the consumer will be driven to buy truly innovative products. So, I guess government funding for Research and Development to build a better mousetrap would be beneficial. We know Tax Credits are an incentive for consumers. Would a tax credit for R-10 windows create an incentive for manufacturers to speed their introduction? What else could government and the Window and Door industry do together – now – to speed up the process of making more homes more energy efficient?

  3. Carter was wrong in 1977 and his words are wrong today. He gave no hope only scare tactics due to a bump in our energy supply.
    I am not opposed to finding more types of energy sources and developing products that will lessen our demand as a nation. However the current administration as Carter did are making our lives more difficult because they will not utilize our oil and gas potential at home while new technology in renewable energy is developed. A little common sense would go along way for the U.S. to gain energy independence.

  4. I find it still surprising that we are working on trying to improve the top without working to bring up the bottom.

    Before we can have the top benefit from an R-10 window, or an expensive “positive energy window” shouldn’t we make sure all the single glazed windows are changed?

    Shouldn’t we get the clear glass storm windows upgraded to low e storm windows?

    Shouldn’t we try to correct the worst offenders with government assistance to bring them up to a respectable level before we try to take the top level to a “positive energy window”?

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