Are we doing enough to educate?

Selecta Systems’ technical manager Richard Bent examines the way the industry carries out the marketing of energy efficient PVCU products, and asks if we doing enough to educate customers.

The improvement in the technical performance and specification of window and door systems has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years.
Thermal performance is an area where PVCU systems have excelled, and raised the bar considerably. This is probably why PVCU window and door systems are widely specified.

Window Energy Ratings have been with us now since 2004, with qualifying criteria and compliance levels within Building Regulation Part L changing over time. The industry has also seen the introduction of an A++ rating band two years ago and a greater emphasis on the development of a product’s thermal performance.

It’s now almost expected that a product or a range of products perform to the highest compliance levels, but at what cost to the fabricator or the end consumer? What are the associated cost implications and real benefits to the fabricator and installer from moving just a few more notches up an energy rating ladder? More importantly, does the end consumer really understand the real savings benefits? Does offering an A++ window have any real major performance and savings over cost benefits to a fabricator and consumer, over an A rated window or even a B or C?

Selecta has maintained a company ethos to provide fabricators and consumers with the most efficient and cost effective energy efficient window and door solution. It’s not simply about trying to provide a solution that achieves the highest rating, but we should be giving greater visibility in the ‘cost effectiveness’ achievement factor to the fabricator, installer and consumer.

I’ve recently seen marketing claims that certain products can achieve excellent thermal ratings, and once you investigate this further it’s apparent that there’s an increased cost in materials to fabricate the products to achieve the ‘top’ rating.

At the end of the day, does the fabricator and end consumer really benefit? Surely an A, or even B or C rated product is sufficient and easier to achieve? It would also mean lower fabrication costs and a possible better return investment for the consumer.

For instance, the Energy Saving Trust states that a standard semi-detached property with single glazed windows would benefit from an upgrade to double glazed A+ rated windows with a saving of between £75-£80 per year on their energy bill. Savings for A rated windows of £75, B rated windows £70-£75 and C rated windows £70-£75.

The savings for the end consumer per annum is minimal, but the costs to ‘upgrade’ possibly outweigh the benefits. These savings are further reduced when replacing replacement PVCU double glazed windows.

There is also a cut-off point where the ‘efficiency’ reaches a level that could have detrimental effects on the building fabric – for example, condensation – which could involve introducing air circulation, or leaving windows and doors open.

Obviously, this is counterproductive to any ‘additional savings’ claims.

This, I feel, is an area that the industry could possibly improve and provide greater information and education to fabricators, installers and consumers alike.

The industry had the triple and double glazing debate, which linked in to questions regarding product performance, cost effectiveness and fabrication concerns. A large nationwide installer said “three was better than two”, offering a free upgrade to triple glazing from double glazing, but as we are all fully aware does not actually guarantee a better overall solution for everyone involved.

Maybe it’s lazy or clever marketing, depending on which way you look at it and on what side of the fence you sit.

We are all consumers at the end of the day, and the stigma of the double glazing salesman still exists. An improved education programme filtering through the supply chain may result in the industry getting the acclaim it deserves.