Why You Need to Make ENERGY STAR® 7.0 Decisions Today
We’re already into the second half of 2022. That means in just about a year, the new and unprecedentedly stringent ENERGY STAR® version 7.0 performance standards will go into effect. For every energy-efficient window system that maintains the ENERGY STAR label today, significant design and engineering changes will likely be needed to maintain certification under the program.
Make no mistake: the changes from the previous version of ENERGY STAR are significant. The most important ones are as follows:
- U-factor requirements will be lower for all climate zones.
- In the Northern zone, which covers a large portion of North America, that number will be 0.22.
- Solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC) will be lower in both the South-Central and Southern climate zones, while a minimum SHGC number will be established for the Northern zone.
That leaves window manufacturers with some questions that need answered, and quickly: What types of design changes are you going to pursue to achieve these new levels of performance? What kinds of technologies are you going to adopt to meet these U-factor requirements? Will you change your vinyl profiles? Make the leap to triple-paned insulating glass (IG)?
As you search for answers to these questions and more, here are a few things to think about:
The Importance of Proven Performance
Thermal performance is not the only thing that matters when it comes to what your customers are looking for in a window system. They also want peace of mind that their investments are going to last, making durability and weatherability critical concerns for advanced window systems.
How to balance performance claims with long-term performance? One way is to investigate a high-performance component’s track record. Let’s use warm-edge spacer technology—which limits thermal conductivity dramatically over metal spacer—as an example. Having been around for more than 30 years—and having demonstrated proven performance in a wide range of applications—window and door manufacturers can trust such a solution to last. Warm-edge spacers, applied correctly, can minimize potential for seal failures and other performance problems over the window’s lifetime. Sourcing it from the right supplier can help get you closer to the figures demanded by ENERGY STAR 7.0 while optimizing longevity.
But it’s important to note that changes to double-paned IG likely won’t get you all the way to the new performance requirements. You’ll either need to investigate triple-paned IG—which comes with a number of new complexities for both your manufacturing process and the design of your entire window system—or invest in high-efficiency window profiles. Proven technologies—small cavities, air-cell-filled cavities, foamed vinyl—are available that can help you develop a complete system in a more simplified manner. The right supplier may also be able to help you design your new system from a technical perspective, helping with thermal modeling and other considerations as you move from design to production.
What’s at Stake?
Since its establishment, the ENERGY STAR program has been instrumental in educating consumers about energy efficiency. It’s helped homeowners collectively achieve billions in energy savings over the course of its lifetime. The ENERGY STAR label has further enabled homeowners to make informed, confident choices in products they can trust will save them money on energy bills.
The benefits have been mutual for manufacturers. It has helped raise the bar in the fenestration industry, incentivizing continued innovation and engineering. It has simultaneously become a powerful marketing tool for window and door manufacturers, enabling them to differentiate from other window systems on the market. These are some of the benefits at stake when weighing how, or if, you’ll be pursuing ENERGY STAR labeling under the new criteria.
The Time to Act is Now
A year may seem like a long while to get prepared for ENERGY STAR version 7.0—but that feeling evaporates when you consider each of the steps required to make significant changes to your window systems.
Let’s imagine you’re converting to a new vinyl system. Tooling up your production line to run a new system has the potential to last months just for a single product line, even if you’re working closely with your supplier. Additional changes can further compound that timeline, while you work to manage changes to your production workflows.
All of this takes time, and it’s something you need to be thinking about right now. Also consider the current state of the supply chain. Any manufacturer knows that getting your hands on the necessary materials to build and assemble a product—any product—has been challenging lately. Lead times for just about anything are at an industry high, and while this situation will hopefully be alleviated somewhat in the year ahead, it’s another factor you should be thinking about as ENERGY STAR version 7.0 looms.
At Quanex, we’re committed to being your ENERGY STAR partner with advanced technologies and design and engineering assistance to help you meet even the most stringent new criteria.
Get in touch with us directly at Douglas.Hauck@Quanex.com or John.Ryba@Quanex.com to learn how we can help you in your pursuit of higher performance, or check out our ENERGY STAR resources page.