Energy Star 2015 – Government Has it All Wrong

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The EPA is working towards its planned January 2015 revision to its Energy Star target for windows, doors and skylights. This post will focus on windows.

EPA

Responding to a question regarding the cost of moving from the current Energy Star U-Value of .30 or lower in the Northern climate zone to the proposed .27 U-Value, the government stated that the “low median incremental cost was calculated to be $24.69 and the high median incremental cost was calculated to be $41.00.”  Here’s the Window & Door Magazine post to the story, and you can download the government’s response in pdf format.

There is a difference between government workers and government bureaucracy. The former are largely honorable, hardworking people, and both my parents spent their careers in government service.  The latter too often gets in the way of business and disrupts the marketplace with well-intended policy goals gone very wrong due to limited understanding and the heavy influence of lobbyist and consultants. In this case the government has it all wrong.

Even at cheap end of the window business, I am not aware of any company that offers a product that meets a .27 U-Value in our Northern Climate zone for just $41 more than one that meets a .30 U-Value, and is available in Colorado at our mile high elevation. Based on the products we distribute, the cost of chasing U-Value is far higher:

3’x 5’ Casement

Dual-Pane (Air)

Dual-Pane (Argon)

Tri-Pane (Air)

Quad-Pane Heat Mirror (Air)

U Value 

.32

.29

.29

.26

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient 

.16 – .47

.16 – .47

.16 – .47

.16 – .47

Cost Factor  

1

Standard window cost

1

Standard window cost

1.25

Triple pane glass cost

1.42

Heat Mirror glazing cost

It would be one thing if the reduction (improvement in U-Value from .32 to .26 made a big dent in the cost of heating our homes. However, we have done a number of HERS models that indicate the savings to be less than $200 per year and that drives a simple payback of nearly 30 years. Thus even at twice the cost of today’s energy, there a far more cost effective ways to reduce heating loads in high altitude, Northern Climate Zone markets.

Posted on August 30, 2013 by
Category: Replacement Window Info
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