In my last blog submission, I wrote about windows being invisible – by that, I meant the tendency to look through or past them rather than at them and their unique qualities and contributions to better buildings. Our industry faces another challenge – conveying the value of windows, doors, or skylights to a public who may never purchase them or do so once in their lifetimes.

Why is This a Challenge?

It’s hard to educate someone on the importance of a topic if they don’t feel like it applies to them. In a world where information is abundant on every subject, few retain information they aren’t sure they will ever need. And this means that our window (no pun intended) of opportunity to educate people to make the best possible choices is small.

Why does it Matter?

There is a reason the industry has developed its various standards. Whether NFRC, North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS), or other standards, these provide assurances that all products are tested, reported, and presented the same. Does it add steps for the manufacturer? Absolutely. Does it add expense and cost to the product? Of course. Is it done in vain? No. The time and resources spent to adhere to standards are well worth the outcome. These efforts are not performed in vain; they are integral to marketplace credibility. Whether structural or energy code requirements, it is essential that the purchaser know what they are purchasing is meeting those obligations. And it matters to the consumer. According to a survey of 1,017 U.S. adults, 45% of Americans want a company’s claims backed up by a third party. In other words, a manufacturer’s claim is not enough for nearly half of Americans, and it comes down to putting your money where your mouth is.

Beyond consumer confidence, ratings are the required proof for meeting codes, getting rebates, and claiming tax credits.

How do we Educate the Reluctant?

So, we know people don’t want the information on the various ways fenestration products are certified unless they are actively shopping for new products but when they do, they want to know that the information they are given is verifiable.

For our part, NFRC is using our Efficient Windows Collaborative (EWC) as the main portal for educating consumers. The site is easy for curious consumers and their representatives (remodelers, architects, etc.) to find and use.

Because so many suffer from information overload, we are working hard to put as much information in short, memorable bites as possible so they resonate with the public while also serving as a catalyst for those who might want more in-depth information. For example:

1. Did you know window manufacturers voluntarily have their products rated for energy efficiency? Look for the NFRC Label and go to EfficientWindows.org for information on what the label means. #WhyWindowsMatter

2. The NFRC Label contains mandatory information to help homeowners choose the best products for their homes – U-factor, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, and Visible Transmittance. The label also contains information on the manufacturer and product line. Save it, or a photo of it for later use! #WhyWindowsMatter. See EfficentWindows.org for more info!

3. U-factor on an NFRC Label tells the homeowner how well the window will keep heat INSIDE the home during cold weather. Find more information on this and other ratings on EfficientWindows.org! #WhyWindowsMatter

4. Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) rating on an NFRC label tells the purchaser how well the product will keep outside heat from entering a home. While this is NOT wanted on a hot day, it can keep expenses lower in the winter. See EfficientWindows.org for more information on this and other NFRC ratings that benefit the consumer.

We also invite other organizations to contact us to be included on the EWC site. We are looking to add information on the importance of good installation, as well as on the structural standards and certifications that the industry relies on. In these areas, we are not the experts but welcome input. (Contact staff at ewc@nfrc.org to discuss adding content to the consumer site.)

Let’s work together and use “Why Windows Matter” in our consumer outreach efforts. Whether as organizations or manufacturers, we can create a system where the consumer finds all information with a simple search.

I hope you’ll join us.

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