Putting more energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights into service depends on functioning, resilient global supply chains. While fenestration product manufacturers still face challenges meeting demand, post-pandemic consumer attitudes may offer some relief.
According to Morgan Stanley, the largest culprit to emerge from the pandemic and create supply chain delays was the unexpected and unprecedented surge in demand for physical goods. This resulted from record stimulus programs and a sharp shift in spending from services to consumer durables and has been exacerbated by the scarcity of labor to effectively manage, process and unload U.S. imports.
Consequently, consumers who want energy-efficient windows still face extended lead times, and the situation is not likely to normalize until late 2023.
One survey of homebuilders cites long wait times for windows and doors as the No. 1 cause of delayed construction projects. Furthermore, Consumer Reports adds that homeowners who want to replace their windows in 2022 should expect it to take 12 to 20 weeks from purchase to installation.
Rising demand for energy-efficient windows
Amid supply chain disruptions, global demand for energy-efficient residential windows will increase. The market is projected to grow from $13.1 billion in 2021 to $18.3 billion by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate of 7 percent, according to research by researchandmarkets.com.
New housing starts will drive much of this demand. The National Association of Home Builders says total housing starts for 2021 were 1.6 million, a 15.6 percent gain over the 1.38 million total from 2020. Moreover, the U.S. Census Bureau says privately owned housing starts in April 2022 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.7 million, which is 14 percent above the April 2021 rate of 1.5 million.
Although supply chain disruptions will continue, the growth in demand for energy-efficient residential windows, combined with new consumer attitudes, offer a reason for fenestration product manufacturers to be optimistic.
Responsible choices over expedience
A recent survey by Engine Insights that explored the repercussions of supply chain disruptions shows consumers are understanding, with half of those who experienced a delay expressing a willingness to wait for the exact item they want. In fact, 41 percent are willing to wait up to three months.
Post-pandemic consumers want to make more environmentally responsible choices and view themselves as the catalyst for change, according to research the National Fenestration Rating Council conducted.
Accordingly, these consumers also view healthy homes and buildings as a necessity, and they are especially concerned about maintaining good indoor air quality. Moreover, 85 percent think about energy efficiency and sustainability more than they did before the pandemic, and 73 percent plan to change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact.
The same research shows 57 percent of companies have accelerated their energy efficiency and sustainability plans, and 33 percent of them say facilitating employee health and well-being will take precedence for them throughout 2022.
Better days ahead
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that businesses should be diligent in their communications to manage consumers’ expectations. Transparency goes a long way toward building relationships, and consumers are more likely to accept delays if they know about them ahead of time.
Similarly, consumers can manage the variables within their control and reduce the uncertainty involved with acquiring energy-efficient windows by checking a manufacturer’s website for current estimated lead times prior to making a purchase.
Finally, we would all do well to remember that supply chain upheavals are not exclusive to the fenestration industry and remind ourselves that these unprecedented disruptions, although challenging at the moment, are likely transitory.