Selling energy efficiently

Lumi reinvented the window, according to the G Awards judges who voted it ‘Best New Product’ in 2015. As a window aimed at the premium fenestration sector energy efficiency is a given, according to MD Asa McGillian.

When I decided to make windows, I began with a blank sheet of paper. Pitching into the mass PVCU or aluminium market would involve huge costs at every turn, while going head-to-head with the biggest companies in the market. And what could possibly be brought to a market that is overwhelmingly price driven?

For me, energy efficiency was a prerequisite. But rather than fine tuning an existing product to skim under the regulated performance dictated by the Building Regulations, I wanted the most efficient windows that could practically be manufactured in any sort of volume. So, I set out to find the benchmark and then to find a way of achieving it in commercially produced frames.

Passivhaus was developed in Germany in the 1990s, and follows the goal of creating structures that are so thermally efficient that they require little or no conventional heating.

To achieve this, building components must be produced to offer the greatest overall efficiency for the building, including windows, and that became the performance objective for me. Today, Lumi windows and doors can offer U-values as low as 0.6W/m2K on a fixed pane.

The search for an alternative to aluminium and PVCU led to the use of pultruded GRP, a material that could be produced in relatively low volumes and yet which offers extraordinary thermal performance and torsional and linear strength. We have been using this material for inner frames for our residential doors for 15 years. It is at least as strong as aluminium but is inherently much warmer and energy efficient.

To further enhance energy efficiency, all chambers are foam filled to reduce cold air convection while glass units are triple glazed throughout using low-e glass, and both cavities are argon gas filled.

A key element of GRP is its long life – up to 40 years and beyond, following which it may be recycled for use in concrete and road surface treatments.

Homeowners in the high-end bracket that we are targeting will generally take an interest in the principles of sustainability, so the product’s life cycle is as important as the installed energy efficiency.

Lumi’s energy efficiency was a given for us. However, despite Palmer Research suggesting that 38% of homeowners say that better thermal performance was the primary reason for homeowners choosing new windows, we’ve actually found that Lumi’s strong aesthetics are the biggest draw.

Taking Lumi to its potential customers has been a key element in the marketing of the product since day one. Therefore, we will appear at 13 consumer homes shows this year, an increase over previous years, because we understand the impact our windows and doors have when they are seen, and then touched.

Everyone is impressed. The process is then narrowed by whether or not Lumi is right for their home or project, followed by cost.

A great deal of effort is spent in reaching homeowners and specifiers and driving them to the shows. Our website and digital marketing has become sophisticated and seeks to reach potential customers who are looking for new products to improve existing homes or new properties, which is supported by high quality physical brochures.