What I'm Seeing Now

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These Windows Are Energy Star Inferior, By Any Measure

In this new construction I found that these windows are Energy Star inferior, by any measure.

This is a beautiful, zillion $ house, with the builder claiming Energy Star all over it. 

I noticed that I could feel the sun through a bedroom window.  The day was not particularly warm, in the 60s.  But if you can feel warmth through a window at this time of year it is not the superior window one might expect in a house like this.

However, all the window performance stickers had been removed.  Except one!

It was located over the master bathtub.

The tub was full of the protective plastic and cardboard, and someone did not want to get in there yet to remove the window sticker.

Taking a photo and asking my client if this was the kind of sticker seen elsewhere, he said that he had taken photos of a couple of the other window stickers.

Indeed, they were the same!

If the windows really do have the same rating as this window, then they do NOT meet the Energy Star criteria for windows in our area.  The arrow on the right in the photo points to the Energy Star Partner rating, meaning this window manufacturer does make windows to Energy Star ratings.  (I have had supervisors point to that to say and pretend that the windows are Energy Star windows...)

What makes windows, and doors, Energy Star compliant?  The National Fenestration Rating Council (see the logo with the sun on the upper left of the label?) tests and determines the ratings for various manufactured products.  Fenestration  is an architectural term for the arrangement of windows and doors in a house.  The NFRC is the rating agency.

The two critical numbers are circled in red.  They are painfully high, which is why I felt the sun through the window.  The left is the U-factor, and the right the SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient).  The U-factor divided into 1 gives you the R-value for the window.  The Energy Star R-value for Virginia would be 3.3 or better. 

To meet Energy Star those numbers have to meet the criteria set for the area where the house is located.  You can see the page here, and look at the chart.  Virginia is in the North Central.  As such, to meet the Energy Star criteria the U-factor would have to be .30 or less, and the SHGC .40 or less.

THESE WINDOWS ARE ENERGY STAR INFERIOR, BY ANY MEASURE.

Asking the supervisor he claimed not to really know, but said that they use windows that "are better than the other builders," so he is sure there are good ones here.  It's hard to know if he was blowing smoke or honestly ignorant.

My recommendation:  see what your sales contract says in terms of energy criteria claims.  To be labeled an "Energy Star House" the materials and installations have to meet very stringent criteria and have it so rated and labeled by an outside agency.  Most houses DO NOT get that label.  It would appear on the panel box if it did.  But if the builder contract claims to use Energy Star "stuff," be sure the house contains it!  A home inspector can help you determine if it does.  And a pre-drywall inspection is the best time to check window and door installations!

 

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 33 commentsJay Markanich • March 18 2016 02:38AM

Comments

 Good morning Jay Markanich . What can I say? It's all about the money! Follow the money!

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 2 years ago

Michael - I always wonder when the supervisors feign such ignorance.  I'm too old and cynical, I guess.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

OOOps.  If they knew it was going to be inspected I bet they wouldn't have tried this. Think of what it's going to cost now?

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 2 years ago

They did NOT know I was coming, as my client called me that morning and I had the late afternoon available that day, Scott.

This builder has seen me many times before.  Once, when I measured the attic insulation to be 7" in depth, they accused me of pushing it down to that level ALL OVER THE ATTIC.  For sure.  That's my schtick.

And no matter what my question, that supervisor feigned ignorance or was truly ignorant.  Again, it's hard to tell.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Thanks for the post:

To be labeled an "Energy Star House" the materials and installations have to meet very stringent criteria and have it so rated and labeled by an outside agency.  Most houses DO NOT get that label

Posted by Sham Reddy, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) over 2 years ago

I said that, Sham, because most people do not realize that such a certification label exists.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Oooh, my new word for the day.... "Fenestration" - That's a new one on me.

Marketing something one way when it's another way entirely is just wrong. I think they knew those windows weren't the right ones, because they would have left the stickers on the windows to show how good they were. Instead, they tried to take the stickers off so no one would see the actual ratings. I don't believe for a second that they were unaware they used inferior windows.

Other word for the day, Pshaw.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) over 2 years ago

Kat - from the Latin word fenestra, meaning window.

That agency has been around for a long time.  And as to the stickers, I agree.  There was another one on a very high window, but I could not get a clear photo of it.

Pshaw - from an old English word (17th century) meaning poison.  Currently it indicates disbelief or contempt.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Thank you for this lesson and will be looking at the next new build or replacement window's I see.

Make yourself an astonishing day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 2 years ago

Yes, it does make you wonder about whether if they are ignorant.  I keep saying the same thing on all these insurance estimates my customers are getting.  They are missing a lot of items.  Is the person doing that are purpose or are they just ignorant?  Seems to be consistent w/ every agency.

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) over 2 years ago

You are in the Northern area, Raymond, so the only number you need to worry about is .27 or less for U-factor.  Surprisingly, gee go figure, the Solar Heat Gain isn't as important up there!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Someone like me, and my background in education, and tendency toward curmudgeon cynicism, would think public education is the basis for this "trend" toward ignorance, or not trying to investigate, Debbie.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Jay you are the master at home inspection!!! Thanks for sharing. This is valuable information for both the new homes purchasers and home owners who are looking to replace old windows.

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) over 2 years ago

YICKS !   A big consumer BEWARE issue here....Trust is everything...and this is a big area...you have to wonder what else is not quite the way they described it !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 2 years ago

Wow Jay good bust. Such a shame making false claims.

Posted by Marco Giancola, Realtor (305)608-1922, Miami Beach Florida (Beachfront Realty) over 2 years ago

Very few builders get the Energy Star certification, but many and many claim to be just as good.  Thank you for that link.  In future, I'll be taking photos of window stickers and making sure my clients get what they were promised.

Posted by Dianne Goode, Realtor/Broker (Raleigh Cary Realty) over 2 years ago

Good morning Jay, I learned a lot about windows and energy star rating from this blog.  Thanks for the info, it is great for anyone who is building a house or happens to still have a sticker on any of their windows.

Posted by Sybil Campbell, REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia (Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia) over 2 years ago

By the way, Jay, thanks for the link to the NFRC I will save it in my downloads for future reference.

Posted by Sybil Campbell, REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia (Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia) over 2 years ago

"My recommendation:  see what your sales contract says in terms of energy criteria claims.  To be labeled an "Energy Star House" the materials and installations have to meet very stringent criteria and have it so rated and labeled by an outside agency."  Agreed Jay Markanich - and - re-blog!

Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ (BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty) over 2 years ago

False windows fear this man Jay Markanich 

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 2 years ago

I always like it when the superintendant is a 25 year old know it all... I find that quite amusing. I think ignorant is the right word... maybe honestly ignorant, those little whipersnappers!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 2 years ago

How would a hapless buyer ever find this out without a proper inspection.  And if you say it should be done pre-drywall, how many buyers get in there before that?  Dishonest builders taint all the others.

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) over 2 years ago

Thanks Ritu.  Remember what I said in my last newsletter about new windows.  I sent you a copy!  If you need another one let me know.

S&D - about 30% of the energy in a house escapes through the windows and doors.  So this is huge.  And this is a big house!

Marco - perhaps true, but he may have only been parrotting what he has been told!

Dianne - it is easy to check.  On the chart in the link you are on the border between North Central and South Central.  The U-factor is the same, but the South Central has a lower SGHC rating.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Sybil - the Energy Star criteria had been the same for many years.  It got more stringent this year.

T&S - as I said on your reblog, thanks!

Richie - wow, for an inanimate object that is something!   Must be the power of the Force, or something?  It is with me ...  FYI.

Fred - I asked a supervisor once what they do in terms of CEUs to keep current and he had no idea what I was talking about.  I already have over 100 CEU hours this year.  And I still cannot keep current.

Margaret - this buyer is no dummie - he is an uppity up for a major phone service company.  But he had the smarts to hire someone he thought he could trust to do an inspection.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Thanks for the article. As a representative of NFRC, I want to make it clear that there is technically nothing wrong with the window or how it is labeled. The product is not ENERGY STAR(r) rated as there is no Energy Star label on the product. There are very clear rules on labeling, both from NFRC and Energy Star, and there are no violations on this product that we can see. 

 
For the windows that have had their labels removed, it is possible to look for the permanent label on the product. This is true for all windows, not just new construction. IF the permanent label (usually located between the panes of glass, on the bottom of the sill, or along the side or top of the product) has the NFRC Certified Product Directory (CPD) number on it, you can find the ratings for that product online at http://tinyurl.com/CPD4ActiveRain. In the picture above, the CPD number is PWG-M-54-03801-00001. (Not all products have a permanent label and not all permanent labels contain the full CPD number.)
 
It is clear in the article, but I want to reiterate it here: if the house is being marketed and sold as energy efficient, there is clearly room for improvement, but the deception is not from NFRC, Ply Gem Window Group (window manufacturer), or Energy Star. 
 
More information on NFRC ratings and labeling can be found at www.WindowRatings.org. I am happy to field questions and provide educational resources if needed. 
Posted by Robin Merrifield, NFRC Communications Manager (National Fenestration Rating Council) over 2 years ago

Jay Markanich This is a very sad case of the builder cutting corners and the consumer paying the debt for years to come. Thanks for the alert.

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (Realty National) over 2 years ago

Hmm.  Sounds at least a little sneaky, to me.  Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by Bruce Brockmeier, Coached By Crouch (Internet Marketing Consultant to REALTORS®) over 2 years ago

Robin - and thanks for the comment!  You are correct - when a window is Energy Star compliant there is a map on the label which indicates where in the country the compliance creteria are met.  Often I see labels where the entire country is blackened in to indicate that the particular window works everywhere.   But certainly, here in Virginia the map would indicate compliance for here. 

No, there are no violations of the product here, except that it is not Energy Star compliant, by any measure, for Virginia.  My client indicated that his photos showed the same sticker, as is pictured here, on other windows, so I did not look at every one in the house.

Is there deception by NFRC, Energy Star or Ply Gem?  No!  And I did not indicate such.

S&N - I don't know what the builder's intent was here, but I do know that these windows are inefficient by comparison to what the buyer was expecting.

Bruce - perhaps!  This is not my first rodeo with a builder and window criteria (or insulation - that was another issue in this house!)...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Jay Markanich now I know the difference!

And wonder why builders cut the corners for such a beautiful luxury home!

(It's always pleasure to read your posts - always something that I learn.)

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 2 years ago

Thank you Praful.  It's easy to do it right, and why would you not if you were building a home?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Somebody woke up the sleeping NFRC giant!  Interestingly enough, you never stated they or the manufacturer was at fault, only that the homeowner was getting a bad deal.  Well done Jay.  Keep up the good work.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 2 years ago

The builder was shopping the low-end windows on that one. Now where else were corners cut?

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

There is no fault here by anyone, except perhaps the person who ordered a window that probably doesn't meet the contractual obligations, Stephen.

Don - insulation.

But you already knew that!  I have more insulation push backs by builders than on any other thing!

This sort of thing was all over.

Notice the torn vapor retarder at the light fixture.  It was torn the same on 5 others.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

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