The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) allows homeowners to claim a tax credit of up to $1,500 for upgrading their primary residence with energy-efficient appliances and building products, including exterior windows. In an effort to stave off confusion about the tax credit, window manufacturers have created specific packages with a wide array of options that meet the criteria for the tax credit. And while ARRA helps homeowners save money on the purchase of their windows, the benefits then trickle down to energy bill savings, indoor comfort and aesthetic appeal.

“The legislation offers a great opportunity to improve your energy savings, yet there has been a great amount of confusion — for homeowners and building and remodeling professionals — on what will qualify for the government’s tax credit,” said J. Glasnapp, vice president of corporate sustainability and quality at Andersen Corporation.

In an effort to help eliminate the confusion around the tax credit, Andersen introduced EcoExcel branded windows and doors. EcoExcel includes Andersen products in many styles and shapes (both custom and standard) from

Andersen’s 400 Series and 100 Series product lines that do not require expensive upgrades or add-ons to qualify for the tax credit. The EcoExcel brand identification appears on qualifying products with SmartSun glass, which is available on most of the company’s window and door styles.

“We expect competitive pricing, qualifying federal tax credit products and energy performance to be the top three trends for the immediate future in replacement windows,” said Rod Hershberger, president and CEO of PGT Industries. “The ARRA has definitely been a glimmer of hope in this difficult economy. We expect that the ARRA will continue to help the remodel/replacement market tremendously.”

PGT’s 2200 Series windows for replacement, remodeling and new construction projects qualify for federal tax credits, and come with Energy Star ratings. The 2200 Series vinyl line includes single-hung, double-hung, horizontal roller, picture/fixed-lite architectural and combination windows, and feature a front flange on all products.

Weather Shield’s Custom Shield replacement windows and patio doors now meet the strict criteria for the federal tax credits, deliver energy efficiency and are easier to install than previous generations. The Custom Shield product line is one of several Weather Shield product lines eligible for the ARRA $1,500 federal energy tax credits. Custom Shield windows feature a 3 1/4-in. jamb, and are available in custom sizes to fit inside an existing frame.

“Market indicators show that the tax credit, combined with rising energy costs and the realization for many homeowners that they will stay in their current homes longer than originally anticipated due to economic struggles, have ignited the purchase of energy-efficient replacement windows,” said Sid Spear, vice president sales and marketing for Simonton Windows. “We’ve all heard of a “staycation,” where people save money by vacationing at home. Now we’re witnessing reinvestment by homeowners in those homes to make them more comfortable for the future.”

Designed to help window manufacturers gain market share with a patent-pending, fusion-insulated system, Mikron Industries has launched its EnergyCore window line. The window system provides a full array of products and accessories designed for replacement applications, all offering superior resistance to thermal conductivity. Products will come pretested and NFRC certified. The EnergyCore system utilizes an air-cell insulating core designed to create a superior-performing thermal barrier, and features a tri-extrusion manufacturing process.

Today’s window customer demands added value for the money. This demanding customer has created opportunities for manufacturers to develop products that will not only satisfy but also impress with original features.

“Consumers are being conservative with their spending when it comes to building and remodeling,” said Kathy Krafka Harkema, corporate public relations manager for Pella Corporation. “Many are shying away from McMansions and are instead opting for smaller footprints with amenities like blinds, shades, grilles or decorative panels between glass.”

She adds, “Construction and home improvement activity has been hard hit by the dramatic downturn impacting virtually all sectors of the U.S. economy; however, the federal tax credit has enticed some homeowners to replace old windows and doors.” For homeowners looking to take advantage of the ARRA tax credit, Pella offers energy-efficient windows with SunDefense Low-E insulating glass. This glazing system is ideal for managing solar heat gain to block damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays and reduce cooling costs.

“We see the continued growth of higher performing glass packages being utilized in replacement windows,” said Michael Mooney, Guardian Industries senior market segment director, residential. “Most consumers will talk with four to six different window companies before selecting which window to use in their home.”

The ClimaGuard 63/31 from Guardian Industries is a Low-E residential coated glass designed to improve energy efficiency while helping windows qualify for energy tax credits as outlined in the ARRA, as well as meet the new 2010 Energy Star standards in all U.S. climate zones. ClimaGuard 63/31 has a U-value of 0.24, a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.31 and 63 percent visible light transmission.

“Builders, homeowners and consumers, in general, are focusing on the value of the products they purchase and utilize,” said Lance Premeau, Product & Market Analyst for Kolbe Windows and Doors. “They want and need products that perform well and are manufactured to last, with options that fit their particular needs.

“I think customers are more knowledgeable about overall product performance and are purchasing those products that meet their specific project needs, no matter the material used in its construction,” adds Premeau.

Kolbe now offers square profiles to help achieve the look found in Craftsman-style bungalows or for projects seeking a modern twist on traditional wood windows. Available for both glazing beads and performance divided lite (PDL) bars, these square profiles offer clean lines and flat contours. Kolbe’s square profiles may be specified for awning, casement, hung, sliding, radius, geometric, bow and bay windows.

Milgard Windows & Doors offers its fiberglass Ultra Series windows and patio doors with the option of having the interior color-matched to selected exterior color finishes. Milgard’s Ultra Series fiberglass is applicable for both new construction and replacement applications. Because it’s made of glass fibers, it expands and contracts at the same rate as the insulated glass it holds.

Atrium’s SafeHarbor vinyl impact windows and doors includes single- and double-hung models, as well as casement and horizontal sliding windows and sliding patio doors. The laminated glass system has a .090-in. interlayer for impact resistance and outdoor sound suppression with 7/8-in. insulated glass panel with warm edge spacer system. The product has a block and tackle balance system that allows for easy movement, and double reinforced interlocks to resist weather infiltration.

“No matter the economy, the risk of severe weather is the reality of living in hurricane-prone areas,” said Pella’s Harkema. “Some homeowners living in noisy metro areas like those residing near airports are also opting for impact-resistant resistant products that offer excellent sound transmission reduction properties to help greatly reduce interior noise.”

“Even when it’s not hurricane season, people do recognize the ancillary benefits of impact products, including sound reduction, increased security, reduced UV rays and increased energy efficiency,” said Rod Hershberger. “These are a few of the reasons homeowners upgrade to windows and doors with impact-resistant glass.”

“The desire for impact-resistant glass packages has advanced from requesting this product in just coastal areas to requests nationwide,” explained Sid Spear, vice president sales and marketing for Simonton. “Many homeowners are now more educated about this glass and request it to help reduce sound penetration into the home and reduce the chance of intrusion.”

“Fashion is the third factor influencing window decisions,” said Spear. “Homeowners are looking for window interiors that complement their modern maple hardwood floors or the brushed nickel hardware in their faucet and cabinetry hardware.” For this growing desire for personalization, Simonton has introduced its Decorum collection. These windows promise custom interiors selected from a variety of rich, durable and scratch-resistant wood grain laminates and complementary hardware finishes on energy-efficient vinyl replacement windows. Classy new interior styling options include Antique Cherry, Maple, Contemporary Oak and Pure White. Decorum by Simonton grid options include Antique Cherry, Maple, Contemporary Oak, Two-Tone Driftwood and Two-Tone Tan.

JELD-WEN’s EverTone will soon be available in eight colors, including Chestnut Bronze, Mesa Red, Hartford Green, French Vanilla, Dark Chocolate, Black, Arctic Silver and Desert Sand. These colors match the company’s clad-wood window colors for a seamless look with different window material types, yet still achieve a seamless look. In addition to this expanded color palette, green has become more than just a color choice with EverTone. EverTone is less environmentally impactful with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

“At Hy-Lite/US Block Windows we’re definitely seeing a growing trend toward ‘specialty windows’ being incorporated into the home for both remodeling and new construction projects,” says Roger Murphy, President of Hy-Lite/US Block Windows. “We are seeing more and more homeowners wanting decorative glass or operable block windows as a way to add style to their home’s overall design. A typical single- or double-hung clear glass or obscured glass window is no longer meeting the needs of the homeowner.”

With the addition of Hy-Lite operable decorative glass windows to the US Block Windows product line, the company now offers a range of operable casement and awning windows available in styles including American, Craftsman, Euro, Euro Blue, Brilliance Wrought Iron and Spring Flower styles. The company offers double casement, radius top casement, hexagon awning and eyebrow casement windows in a variety of block patterns and colors with low-maintenance vinyl frames.

Growth areas for the future

“While there’s no crystal ball for the future, at Hy-Lite/US Block Windows we feel that business overall will continue to improve as homeowners start reinvesting in their homes,” predicts Murphy. “Baths and kitchens will continue to receive their share of upgrades as these continue to be two of the most important rooms in the home to women. And, as women continue to play an increasing role in large product decisions for the home, we feel they will emerge as the key influencers in purchasing decisions related to decorative glass and acrylic block windows.

“Just like every segment of the building products industry during the past year, we also saw a steep decline in sales,” explains Murphy. “However, the good news is that over the past few months the remodeling sector for replacement windows has bounced back nicely. We hope this is a strong indicator that 2010 will offer improved business for everyone.”

“Replacement windows will continue to follow the trends made with new construction. Manufacturers appear to be tailoring their product offerings to both types of markets, giving remodelers those same choices as builders,” said Lance Premeau. “I am very encouraged by the speed at which material technology is advancing. I believe in the near future there will be materials developed that will raise the bar for window and door manufacturers. These new materials will continue to push the limits of energy and product performance.”

“The market seems to have responded well to the $1,500 tax credit stimulus. We expect that we will see this continue into 2010,” said Michael Mooney. “The demographic information we have seen for the 2011-2015 time period would lead me to believe we will see a continued growth of the number of replacement windows sold in the coming years.”

“Energy efficiency is certainly a top trend for consumer purchasing decisions currently for fenestration products and we believe it will stay this way in 2010,” said Sid Spear. “With the increased urbanization of consumers we’re seeing baby boomers move back to downtown areas and away from suburban settings. These individuals are keenly aware of the need for sound control to make their homes more comfortable. They may love the active life of the city, but not the increased traffic and external noises. These homeowners are accelerating the sales of windows with sound control and dampening features, like impact-resistant glass products.”

“The industry has faced many challenges in the past few years and, unfortunately, we stand to face many challenges in 2010 including continued downsizing, plant closings and credit availability,” said PGT’s Hershberger. “We do, however, see a light at the end of the tunnel. Tax credits for first-time home buyers and the ARRA tax credit will continue to help the market tremendously.

“The industry, as a result of our economy, will still face many challenges in 2010,” concludes Hershberger. “Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of how to get the most out of their investments. If consumers are going to make a long-term investment in their homes, they want a product that meets a range of needs in the home, such as energy savings, impact resistance, security, noise reduction, style and even reduced insurance rates or ARRA Energy Tax Credit qualifications, in many cases. Innovation is the cornerstone
of our product development strategy.”

A Brief Guide to the ARRA Federal Tax Credit

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) can serve as a key sales tool as long as the remodeler is able to serve as a resource to guide the customer and alleviate concerns. The following steps will help ensure the homeowner is able to take advantage of the ARRA tax credit with as little confusion as possible.

  1. The first step is to
    select qualified windows with NFRC certified U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) ratings that do not exceed 3.0.
  2. Windows must be installed before December 31, 2010.
  3. Provide a detailed invoice including brand name, serial number and model number.
  4. Provide a Manufacturer Certification Statement (MCS) — a signed statement from the manufacturer certifying the product qualifies for the tax credit.
  5. The homeowner must fill out IRS form 5695. The information from this form will be entered on the homeowner’s 1040 form.
  6. The homeowner does not need to submit the invoice and MCS with their taxes, however, they must keep both documents on file for future reference.
  7. Of course, consulting a tax professional is always advised.

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