Environmentally conscious shoppers are constantly looking for ways to save energy and increase the efficiency of their homes. Recent surveys found more than 90 percent of American households recognize the benefits of energy-efficient homes, according to the Environment Protection Agency. One of the first ways to assess a home’s energy efficiency is the windows.
With our focus at NFRC on education and outreach to consumers on the importance of energy-efficient windows in homes and buildings, we wanted a consumer-facing website that didn’t overwhelm consumers with technical information while assuring manufacturers their energy-efficient windows are easily accessible for homeowners. Thus, NFRC acquired the Efficient Windows Collaborative (EWC) in January 2020.
The EWC was formed in 1996 with funding from the Department of Energy to work with the University of Minnesota, the Alliance to Save Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to develop an online resource that connects the technical and human considerations that influence window and façade design, selection and use. The EWC has more than 20,000 unique visitors each month to www.efficientwindows.org and includes its proprietary Window Selection Tool.
We opened the Window Selection Tool for new manufacturers to list their products and reach energy savings-savvy consumers. The interactive tool shows consumers the energy performance of a window, backed by the NFRC ratings, and explains it so consumers can understand when shopping. The tool also includes design considerations such as views, daylighting and fresh air, as well as the ancillary benefits of energy-efficient windows. Consumers can find resources on ways their windows can help save energy and reduce costs, lower HVAC use, improve comfort, reduce condensation and increase light in their homes.
Additionally, the Window Selection Tool identifies whether the window meets Energy Star requirements in the geographic region where the home is located in the U.S. or Canada. At the end of the selection process, the user can click on a link to get the list of manufacturers with windows that meet those requirements. This data comes from NFRC’s Certified Product Directory of windows, doors and skylights, which is part of the residential Product Certification Program (PCP).
The Window Selection Tool is open to all manufacturers that are active in the PCP and have products that meet the Energy Star criteria for at least one climate zone. Inclusion in the tool is a subscription rather than being a part of membership. Currently, companies receive annual metrics, but we aim to increase notifications once we revise and update the Window Selection Tool.
A manufacturer can subscribe and have their products listed in the tool by completing an enrollment form, paying an annual subscription fee, and selecting the products to be listed. Once they are uploaded, the appropriate consumers will see those products in their searches.
We also have a sustainability sponsorship program for non-manufacturing companies that still want to show support. Sustainability sponsors are all listed on the EWC website, are recognized in the bi-weekly update, are on the homepage of nfrc.org and, depending on the sponsorship level, can be recognized during webinars or sponsor one of their own.