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September - October 2002

Kate Offringa

Open Their Eyes
Selling Energy Efficiency to Builders 
by Kate Offringa

Builders have much to gain by selling energy-efficient windows and skylights, but they might not know it. You, the manufacturer, can educate builders about the benefits these products can bring. With efficient windows, homes will meet energy code requirements and qualify for marketing programs, such as ENERGY STAR® homes, more easily. In many cases, using energy-efficient windows and skylights also will allow the builder to increase the amount of glazed area within a home, appealing to many prospective buyers. These and other benefits can appeal to builders if those builders are informed.

Speaking to Builders’ Concerns
Selling the benefits of your energy-efficient products to builders requires addressing their specific concerns via their prospective homebuyers and their own wallets.

Fewer callbacks—Energy-efficient windows are high-performance windows. They outperform inefficient windows in several ways, including reducing air leakage, reducing condensation buildup and improving comfort for homeowners or occupants. When homeowners are more comfortable in their new or newly remodeled homes, builders will get fewer window-related callbacks.

Cost advantages—Energy-efficient windows and skylights can help builders save money in other areas. When builders use energy-efficient windows in their homes, the required tonnage for HVAC can be reduced by 1 ton to 1.5 tons for an average house. Also, when efficient windows save homeowners as much as 30 percent on heating and cooling energy, lower utility bills can help the homeowners qualify for a higher mortgage. That allows the builder to add other up-sell features to the home.

Code compliance—High-performance windows and skylights are key ingredients in improving the energy efficiency of the building envelope. More and more states and localities are adopting the International Energy Conser-vation Code as part of their building code packages. Using energy-efficient windows and skylights with ENERGY STAR® labels and National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) labels can be a quick, easy and verifiable path to helping builders meet energy code requirements in their states or localities.

Financial incentives—The U.S. Congress currently is considering legislation that would give builders a tax incentive for using energy-efficient windows and skylights in new construction. Also, utilities frequently offer incentives to builders for energy-efficiency upgrades in new construction.

Letting Builders Know What They’re Getting
You are the manufacturer. You have a product to sell. Builders don’t want to “take your word for it” when it comes to the energy performance of your products. That is where independent third parties come in handy.

Our group, the Efficient Windows Collaborative (EWC), provides unbiased non-product-specific information on energy-efficient window and skylight technologies. Our website, www.efficientwindows.org, can help builders find annual energy performance comparisons for different generic window and skylight technologies in their climates.

NFRC labels—The NFRC label provides the only way to determine window energy properties and to compare products based on energy performance. The label appears on all products certified to the NFRC standards and on all window, door and skylight products that are part of the ENERGY STAR® program.

ENERGY STAR® labels—The U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency have developed an ENERGY STAR designation for products meeting certain energy performance criteria. Since the energy performance of windows and skylights varies by climate, product recommendations are given for three U.S. climate zones. Using ENERGY STAR® labeled products is an easy way for builders to demonstrate added value to their homebuyers.

Getting the facts on energy-efficient windows and skylights to builders can improve your sales and their own! 

Kate Offringa is program manager of the Efficient Windows Collaborative, a project of the Alliance To Save Energy in Washington, D.C.

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