Going to Market: With Energy Star, Meeting Requirements Is One Thing, Selling Is Another

By Joe Erb and Eric Thompson

As Energy Star 7.0 nears finalization, you might be sick of hearing about it. But the fact of the matter is the new criteria have the potential to reshape the residential door and window marketplace as we know it—including how products are sold.

Energy Star 7.0 windows will represent just about any manufacturer’s top-of-the-line product, and considering the investments necessary to earn the label, retail prices will reflect this fact. As we prepare for a new era, here are some things to consider in selling and marketing top-tier windows.

Selling Efficiency

When Energy Star first hit the scene, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intended for roughly 20% of available products to meet the initial requirements. For reference, that figure today is about 80%, though it’s expected to fall significantly when the new criteria become official.

In the beginning, Energy Star windows were a true upsell. Some window manufacturers and dealers sold their customers on payback, or the amount of time it would take for homeowners’ energy savings to make up for their investments. At that point in time, the payback period was roughly 30 years. That’s a long time and perhaps not all that compelling to a discerning window buyer. Instead, selling Energy Star windows based on a higher performance percentage versus non-Energy Star windows proved to be a more effective strategy. The label was also a mark of quality, performance and even prestige. It meant you were buying top-of-the-line windows—a worthy investment.

This strategy worked so well, in fact, that Energy Star windows virtually have saturated the market. The Energy Star 7.0 criteria may bring all manufacturers back to a point where windows with this renewed, prestigious rating are once again a challenging upsell.

So, what’s an effective strategy? Some good news is that the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act will once again incentivize the purchase of Energy Star doors and windows. Per Energy Star program officials: “Homeowners may be eligible for a tax credit of 10% of the cost (not including installation), up to $200 for windows and skylights and up to $500 for doors.” While this is certainly a nice incentive, is it enough to put prospective window buyers over the fence? Maybe. But maybe not.

A more effective framing could be a return to Energy Star’s original appeal, selling 7.0 products for what they truly are: the best of what the industry has to offer.

Other Ways to Elevate

Windows meeting the new Energy Star 7.0 criteria undoubtedly will reflect the best of the best in efficiency and overall performance. But those aren’t the only features customers want from a window— and upselling your new Energy Star line may be easier when packaged with other popular higher-end options.

In a world where customers are seeking whole-home comfort, a vinyl profile that can help lessen noise from the outside world is a striking feature.

In addition, vinyl is available in a range of color options that can help you differentiate, particularly in higher-end applications where buyers may be looking to make a bold aesthetic statement and maximize thermal comfort.

Whatever the strategy, remembering what factors are most important for your customers is essential for success.

Joe Erb and Eric Thompson are national account managers for Quanex.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

DWM Magazine

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