Homeowner demand for quality, efficiency driving window trends

Replacing windows with energy efficient models gives an immediate payback by lowering energy bills and window manufacturers are responding with value priced but high quality new products.

January 10, 2012
Andersen A Series

Andersen A Series

Tough economic times continue to reduce mobility for homeowners. People remaining in their existing homes want to improve their living conditions without spending too much money. Replacing windows with energy efficient models gives an immediate payback by lowering energy bills and window manufacturers are responding with value priced but high quality new products.

“Lower immigration, reduced mobility and lower home equity values have dampened demand for home improvements of all types,” notes Chris Pickering of Ply Gem Windows. He said remodeling projects now have a reduced scope with homeowners balancing cost and value and seeking a realistic payback in terms of energy savings.

John Kirchner of Marvin Windows and Doors agrees, saying, “We’re seeing a real desire for quality and true value, for windows and doors that look great, perform to high standards and are energy-efficient.

Consumers are investing carefully and above all else they want to know they’re making a smart buy both aesthetically and performance-wise.”

Green matters

Homeowners want “to understand how we’re using resources from a manufacturing standpoint as well as what materials are being used in products,” says Stacy Einck of Andersen Windows. Andersen’s commitment to environmental sustainability is shown through the third party certifications it holds.

All Andersen products are certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) for use of recycled content and by the Forest Stewardship Council ensuring the wood used comes from certified forests. An SCS Indoor Advantage Gold Air Quality certificate indicates emissions given off by Andersen products do not adversely affect indoor air quality.

Wood fiber, which is normally a waste product, is combined with vinyl by Andersen to create Fibrex, a material used extensively in its 100 series and other window lines. Extruded with a capstock color, its factory finish never needs painting. The 100 Series is particularly desirable “for certain types of architecture common in the South and Southwest where drywall returns are common rather than extension jambs,” Einck explains. “This product has a very narrow profile allowing a big view with lots of visible light coming in along with energy efficiency.”

Based on customer requests, a factory-applied white painted interior finish is available on Marvin products. “More convenient for both the builder and homeowner, it’s more environmentally friendly,” Kirchner says. “We’re able to capture volatile organic compounds at the factory much better than on the jobsite.”

Energy efficiency, low maintenance and aesthetics

The newest windows offer energy efficiency, low maintenance and many aesthetic choices, saving money and time for homeowners while meeting their taste preferences. Although federal energy tax credits have expired, some local governments and utilities are offering similar rebates for installing energy efficient windows and screens. Remodelers should check with local agencies to see what is available. The utility incentive section at www.efficientwindows.org includes a list of many incentives.

Andersen’s A Series products are the company’s most energy-efficient. Available in 11 standard exterior frame colors and nine interior finishes, with three wood species for wood frame windows, A Series is compatible with the new Andersen Exterior Trim. Made of Fibrex, the trim comes in the same 11 colors and can be used with A Series, 400 Series and 200 series windows. It will never fade, chip or need painting. Remodelers can order the trim in matching or contrasting colors when ordering windows.

“It’s available preassembled in a hoop sized for the window,” Einck explains. “When you’re done installing the A Series window, find the attachment strip integrated into the nailing flange. Lay the hoop against it, press and the trim snaps into place.”

With no need to measure and cut, installers save time, as each hoop takes only five minutes to install. The Exterior Trim functions independently of the window’s water management system. Decorative cornices and drip caps are available in the same colors. Andersen’s windows also save time for installers by coming with a translucent film on the glass that remains on until installation and painting are finished. Peel the film off then and see a clean window.

Another installation aid is Pella’s SmartFlash installation tape. Bendable and pliable, it is easy to shape and tear to needed lengths without using a utility knife and even adheres in cold weather. The tape comes in 3- and 6-inch widths. Installers can use SmartFlash tape in the rough opening to help protect the structure and the window unit from water infiltration. This redirects any potential moisture out and around the unit, allowing water to drain.

“Andersen’s high performance Low-E glass windows have an exterior coating that sheets both water and accumulated dirt off windows,” Einck says. “These windows stay cleaner longer for lower maintenance.”

Pickering says they are seeing increased interest in exterior color options, especially darker colors that coordinate well with the currently popular darker colors of siding and stone. This is true for trim and finish options, grille between the glass options, performance options and multiple product levels. Ply Gem has expanded regional availability of their value line of windows, the Contractor 2000 series, adding new glass options allowing value-priced windows to be more efficient than ever with expanded color offerings across the board.

Marvin’s Tripane with Krypton combines three-pane construction with Krypton’s superior insulating properties, making it their most energy-efficient window. Available with a range of low-emissivity coatings suited to specific climate zones, it is offered in their most popular window lines. Energy Star rated and certified by the NFRC,

Tripane with Krypton is designed for passive building and meets many energy and regulatory standards and codes.

Completely re-engineered, Marvin’s Ultimate Glider is now more energy-efficient. It operates smoothly and flawlessly with improved hardware, a multi-point locking system and a removable sash for easy cleaning. Marvin’s new Retractable Screen, available on the Ultimate Casement and Ultimate Awning collections, retracts on a horizontal plane, rather than vertically. “The hardware is so well integrated into the window frame that it’s virtually indistinguishable when retracted,” he notes.

Vinyl in demand

Vinyl windows have increased in popularity. “Last year, vinyl windows/doors’ market share increased to over 67 percent of the total window/door market for both new construction and the remodeling segment, according to the Ducker 2010/2011 U.S. National Statistical Review and Forecast,” notes Kathy Krafka Harkema of Pella Windows & Doors.

“Advancements in options, such as color exteriors, upgraded hardware, woodgrain interiors and stylized grids have helped transform vinyl windows over the past several years,” says Gary Pember of Simonton Windows. “Now vinyl windows are valued not just for their energy efficiency capabilities, but also for the style they bring to the home.”

The Decorum by Simonton line offers woodgrain interior options like antique cherry, maple and contemporary oak, along with exterior color options including chocolate, brick, bronze and pine. Interior hardware finish options include brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, polished brass and antique brass. Homeowners can match interior window hardware to hardware finishes in their home’s lighting, cabinets, faucets and appliances.

Featuring Pella’s exclusive energy-saving system making them up to 83 percent more energy-efficient, the Pella 350 Series vinyl windows feature a premium look with virtually invisible SmoothSeam welded corners on the window frames. These give homes a more distinctive look and the robust frame profile with a beveled edge makes them look like wood windows. Available in double-hung, single-hung, sliding, casement, awning, fixed frame and special shapes, the Pella 350 Series comes in white, almond and white interior/brown exterior frames with a choice of white, almond, bright brass, satin nickel and oil-rubbed bronze hardware finishes.

“The optional InsulShield Advanced Low-E triple-pane glass with argon provides industry-leading protection from extreme temperatures and blocks up to 96 percent of the sun’s fading rays,” Krafka Harkema points out.

Ply Gem has seen tremendous acceptance of its Great Lakes’ Window ecoSmart product. “This combines a welded interior composite structure for strength with the durability and reduced maintenance of a vinyl exterior,” Pickering points out. These energy-efficient windows use a composite material core with Ply Gem’s patented InsulMax insulation, their warmest spacer system and new low emissivity technology.

Preparing for disaster

The Northeast’s 2011 encounter with Hurricane Irene highlights the need for weather disaster preparation across the country.

“Simonton StormBreaker Plus windows are created especially to handle the rigors of severe weather,” notes Pember. “They meet strict Dade County, FL building codes.”

The insulating glass unit in these windows features impact-resistant laminated glass with a durable interlayer sandwiched between two pieces of glass plus an outer layer of tempered glass. The high-performance laminated glass is designed to resist strong winds and penetration from windborne debris. Even if the outer tempered glass layer is shattered, the tough interlayer is designed so it will not break out of its frame, helping reduce the possibility of injury or damage.

“These products work 24/7 and never need to be boarded up or shuttered,” Pember points out. “They offer superior energy efficiency benefits, protection for the home against noise and solar penetration, impede intrusion and are easy to maintain.” Other companies also offer weather resistant windows.

Communicating with homeowners

Consumers are using many sources to gather information about windows before they talk with a remodeler. Kirchner says the remodeler needs to be the expert source on window replacement.

“Be prepared to offer expert insights and nuances they can’t get from an online article and correct common misconceptions,” he recommends. “Become a trusted guide. Installers owe it to their customers to be up to speed on all the latest products and options on the market.”

Because energy efficiency is a key consumer concern, installers must know the latest standards for the region of the country where they’re located, as well as which window products and options meet those regional standards, Kirchner emphasizes. Pickering encourages remodelers to use technology tools like tablets, mobile phones and laptops while making presentations to consumers.

Since it may be sometime before a current customer wants more remodeling, getting referrals to their friends is essential. “One of the most powerful marketing tools you have in your arsenal is a satisfied customer, so make sure you do everything in your power to keep customers happy and re-visit them often,” Pickering says.

 

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