It has been a hard slog for many in the building industry the past few years, but most window manufacturers have come through relatively unscathed because their products remained in high demand. Even for products intended for the high-end markets where new home construction has virtually stalled, homeowners are demanding high-performance windows for mid-priced homes and remodels. This is largely due to the fact that, especially in tough economic times, people want to save money by conserving energy.
“With the energy tax credit, windows have actually been moving up on most home-owner’s list of priorities,” says Berit Griffin, public relations coordinator, Marvin Windows and Doors. “People aren’t moving, so they are upgrading their old windows with new, energy-efficient models.” Marvin has seen increases in the replacement and remodeling markets, and Griffin says even in new construction many people are building smaller homes but specifying more, better-quality windows. “People want a high-quality window and are willing to pay for them. They are looking at life-cycle cost and energy savings more than initial price.”
Bigger, Better, More
It may seem odd that in a time when consumers are conservative with their building and remodeling dollars they’d be willing to spend money on windows, but that’s exactly what many manufacturers are experiencing. Homeowners are shifting focus away from building new homes and are instead opting to remodel; any new homes are smaller. In both cases, consumers are willing to pay for windows if they get everything they want.
“Today’s consumers expect greater energy efficiency to reduce their utility bills,” says Kathy Harkema, public relations manager, Pella Corp. “Many now plan to stay in their home for the long haul and are choosing more and better windows to let in natural light, create a better view and reduce energy costs.” Pella has seen many customers take advantage of the tax credit to install products with the company’s SunDefense low-E insulating glass. In addition to keeping conditioned air in, the product also blocks 95 percent of damaging UV light. In response to increased demand, Pella also has expanded its Impervia line of energy-efficient windows with SunDefense glass to include casement and awning styles.
On top of better energy efficiency, people often want their windows to be bigger. “We’ve recently introduced our TerraSpan lift-and-slide door to address the high-end market trend of opening up walls to the outdoors,” says Lance Premeau, product and market analyst, Kolbe Windows and Doors. This door can incorporate up to 10 individual panels of up to 12 ft. in height that either nest in back of one another or recess into a pocket, completely disappearing from view.
Premeau says to further address the trend of large windows and doors, Kolbe is introducing a new double-hung product capable of extremely large sizes. “We have also begun to address the need for better-performing windows with our recent introduction of ThermaPlus glass to address the energy and stimulus package requirements,” he says.
Griffin says Marvin Windows also sees increased demand for large window and door units. Marvin’s Ultimate Lift and Slide doors, which can be pocketed or stacked and feature low-E glass with insulating argon gas, have been popular lately. “We’re seeing increased demand for venting picture windows, especially in homes built in the mid-1900s,” Griffin says. “Our Tilt Turn can mimic a picture window while being able to turn in like a door or tilt at the top.
We’ve also seen a lot of people pair our hopper windows at the top of a fixed unit to add ventilation. People want to stay true to their home’s design while adding performance and aesthetics.”