Fenestration Focus July/August 2022July 28th, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs
Energy Star 7.0 Looms: It’s Time to Make Critical Decisions
By Joe Erb and John Ryba
Are you going for Energy Star 7.0? It’s time to decide. The new criteria are anticipated to take effect in mid-2023 and the changes are stark. It’s likely your current window systems will fail to meet these rigorous requirements—and you’re not alone. We’ve recently met with numerous fabricators who won’t hit these figures with their current systems or suppliers. That means, if you’re intending to keep the Energy Star label on your products (or you’re intending to label them for the first time), it’s time to make some decisions about how you’ll reach those targets.
First, it’s worth considering what is at stake if your window systems lose their Energy Star labels. Since the program’s establishment, Energy Star has proved instrumental in educating consumers about the importance of energy efficiency. It also has raised the bar for the fenestration industry continually, and many others, in terms of performance—not to mention the billions in energy savings stemming from the program over the course of its lifetime. Energy Star labeling— applied only to door and window systems that have demonstrated proven performance—has enabled homeowners to make informed, confident choices in products they trust will save them money on energy bills.
The program also has served as a powerful marketing tool for door and window manufacturers. There are other ways to promote your products and differentiate them from the competition, but the prospect of losing a widely recognized symbol of quality and performance must be weighed carefully.
Any new system componentry you use to meet the new Energy Star criteria must also demonstrate the ability to deliver long-term performance. One of the best gauges you can use to determine how a new component will contribute to longevity is its track record. Warm-edge spacer technology is a good example. With a record for quality and a 30+ year history, warm-edge technology from the right supplier can deliver energy performance characteristics that contribute to achieving the new Energy Star criteria. The right spacer can also be paired with high-performance vinyl framing systems. Proven, small-cavity air cells or foam-filled technologies can help you develop a complete system in a simplified manner.
A Sense of Urgency
It might seem like a while before the new Energy Star criteria take effect—about a year from when this article is published. If you work through the steps required to make significant changes, you’ll find that a year isn’t all that long.
Consider the current state of the supply chain. Anyone in the business of manufacturing knows that getting your hands on the necessary materials to build and assemble a product isn’t simple these days. Regardless of the components or materials, lead times are at an industry high.
Say you’ve made the decision to switch to a new vinyl system. Even working closely with your new supplier to expedite the process, tooling up your production line to run the new system could potentially take months—and that may be just for a single product line. A good supplier should be able to help you navigate these changes to ensure things are operating efficiently, but it does take time and it’s something you should be thinking about now.
Joe Erb is national account manager and John Ryba is technical services manager for Quanex Corp.
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