What next for energy efficiency?

Selecta Systems’ technical manager Richard Bent discusses how it could all change with energy efficient windows and doors in properties, and why we should be looking to provide consumers with more cost-effective solutions and real value for money, especially in the replacement market.

The technical performance and specification of window and door systems has improved dramatically over the last few years as window and door solutions evolve following media pressure of climate control, industry statutory and regulatory requirements, and consumer demand in relation to the ever-increasing costs of energy supply.

I can only see these drivers contributing to further product innovation over the next five years or so. However, consumer demand within the replacement market will not only be for energy efficient products, but for more cost-effective solutions in being able to deliver those savings with a guaranteed financial return on their investment.

Replacing windows and doors within a home is one of the larger investment renovations that a consumer will undertake on their property, and will be undertaken to improve the security, thermal performance and aesthetics of their property.

Adding PAS 24/Secured By Design windows and doors is a given for improving security, Aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder. But thermal performance is a different animal altogether.

Our sales and marketing research points to fabricators and consumers requiring A++ ratings and triple glazed windows and doors to improve the thermal efficiency of properties and reduce energy bills.

However, this may not be the most cost effective solution where the cost may far outweigh the savings. It may also have effects on the performance of the building as a whole, ie, condensation. High relative humidity levels and a lack of air movement are two contributing factors to condensation and so having energy efficient windows can create further issues in stabilising the temperature within a property, thus further outlay on temperature control methods or – heaven forbid – opening windows and doors to allow air flow through.

You have to ask yourself the question: does offering an A++ window have any real major performance improvements and savings against cost benefits to a consumer, over a standard A rated window or even a B or C?

As a consumer, I’d certainly like to know and have greater visibility on what the ‘extra’ outlay and potential savings are for the higher rated option against a standard A rated window. It should not simply be about trying to provide a window or door solution that achieves the highest rating, but we should be giving greater prominence in the ‘cost effectiveness’ achievement factor to the fabricator, installer and the consumer.

At the end of the day, current requirements only dictate that a C rating or above is required, and the jump to an A rated window does not provide a large leap in potential energy savings.

I can, however, see the current C rated requirement being upgraded to a mandatory A rated obligation for all replacement windows and doors within the next few years. This would be a sensible approach as I believe that a large percentage of fabricators and installers are already installing A rated windows and doors.

Innovation, and especially the thermal performance of products, has progressed considerably in just a few years, so what next, without over engineering a product just for the sake of achieving a higher rating?

There must be a cut-off point where the efficiency reaches a level that it could be detrimental to the building fabric and the whole cost against benefit of installing the windows or door is no longer pertinent.

That’s why we here at Selecta have retained our company ethos to provide fabricators and consumers with the most innovative, proficient, and cost effective energy efficient window and door solutions.