Energy Star windows and doors will need to meet a tougher criteria effective October 23, 2023. We’ll explain the details right here.
The requirements have gotten tougher to meet, especially in the North and North Central zones.
What are the new requirements for Energy Star windows?
Here you can see the old requirements for Energy Star windows compared to the new requirements.
For any window to be Energy Star certified it will need to have a U-Factor and a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient at or below the numbers listed.
The requirements are more stringent in all climate zones with the Northern and North Central numbers being harder for many companies to achieve with double pane glass. Most companies can reach these ratings with triple pane glass, but that will increase the cost of your project.
Is there a tax credit for Energy Star windows?
Not anymore. There is a new federal tax credit for windows, but the requirements have changed. In the past windows needed to be Energy Star certified to qualify, but now they need to meet the Energy Star Most Efficient criterial which is different.
Are the Energy Star requirements the same for windows and for doors?
Yes. The requirements are the same, but the tax credit requirements are a little different. The short story is that the regular Energy Star levels do qualify doors for tax credits, but windows need to meet the more stringent “most efficient” criteria.
Does it matter if my new windows are Energy Star rated?
Not really. It can be a helpful benchmark to determine how efficient your new windows will be, but in reality a difference in U-Factor of 0.01 can make or break an Energy Star rating but doesn’t really make any difference in overall performance of your new windows.
A larger difference in efficiency ratings can make a real difference in the performance so it’s important to understand window efficiency ratings. This will help you compare one option to another. Window salesmen will often make all sorts of claims that aren’t based in reality so understanding the real ratings will go a long way to helping you make the right decision.
The federal tax credit for replacement windows and doors is back! But, the requirements changed substantially in 2023, the potential benefit has gotten better and the whole thing is a little more complicated.
Many window salesmen don’t understand these programs so it’s important to make sure have the real information. We’ll get to the bottom of it right here.
Topics we’ll cover are:
Changes to federal tax credits for energy efficient windows
Requirements for tax credit for energy efficient doors
Tax benefit for purchasing energy efficient windows and doors
Cost increase for windows that qualify for the tax credits
Changes to federal tax credit for energy efficient windows and doors
Effective Jan 1, 2023 the requirements for tax credits for installing new efficient windows and doors have changed. The requirements are a more strict, meaning more efficient windows are required to get the tax credit.
In the past the windows just needed to meet the Energy Star criteria, but now the windows need to meet the Energy Star “Most Efficient” criteria which are substantially different.
As you can see in the graphic above, the Energy Star most efficient criteria are different in the different climate zones. This makes sense because someone in Arizona has different efficiency needs than someone in Maine.
In all areas of the country windows need a U-Factor of 0.20 or less to qualify. For most windows this means they’ll need to have triple pane glass. Even with triple pane glass many products still won’t qualify. They’ll likely need other upgrades as well.
The other criteria is Solar Heat Gain Coefficient or SHGC. That number needs to be at or below 0.20 in the Northern climate zone, 0.40 in the North-Central, 0.25 in the South-Central and Southern regions.
If you’re looking at new windows that meet both of those criteria then you’ll qualify for the new federal tax credit. You can find details about how much money you can save on your taxes below.
Tax credit requirements for doors are quite a bit different
Doors, including sliding patio doors, only need to meet the Energy Star 7.0 criteria as of October 23, 2023. Doors do not need to meet the Energy Star Most Efficient levels in order to qualify for tax credits.
Does the terminology seem a little confusing? It’s a typical government program, but it’s easy enough to figure out.
Doors only need to meet the Energy Star criteria, but effective October 23, 2023 those requirements are changing and getting a little harder to meet. Find more info on tax credits for doors from the Energy Star website here.
In the graphic above you can see the difference between the old Energy Star 6.0 criteria and the new Energy Star 7.0 criteria for doors. There are a few ways to meet this criteria in the Northern climate zone. The other zones are a little more straightforward.
What is the tax benefit for installing energy efficient windows and doors?
What do you get back from Uncle Sam when you buy energy efficient windows and doors? If you purchase qualifying products you’ll be eligible for federal tax credits for 30% of the cost of the new windows and doors with a $600 annual max for windows and a $500 annual max for doors.
As an example, let’s look at someone who bought 10 windows and a sliding patio door for $12,000. You’ll need to get an itemized invoice from your window company that will break out the cost of the door from the windows and separate the labor.
Let’s say the windows were $6,000, the door was $2,000 and the installation was $4,000.
This person would be eligible for 30% of the cost of the windows ($6000 x 0.30 = $1,800). The max would limit the tax credit to $600 for the windows. The door would be eligible too ($2,000 x 0.30 = $600). They’d be limited to $500 for the door so this project would max out the tax credit and the person in our example would save $1,100 on their taxes that year.
This is a tax credit not a deduction so it’s real savings. Of course you should contact your tax professional with any questions, but it’s a relatively simple program.
It’s important to note that the max is annual meaning you could buy some windows this year, more windows next year and you can get the $600 for both years. I imagine some people will spread out projects to maximize tax credits, but many will probably just max it out one year and be done with it.
What is the cost of windows that qualify for tax credits?
The criteria windows and doors need to meet to qualify for tax credits has gotten more stringent. The cost has also gone up. You’ll need to order a more efficient glass package in order to qualify. The cost of that package will likely exceed the tax credit that you’ll receive.
That means you’ll pay more for the upgrade than you’ll get back. That’s not ideal, but it does offset the cost of getting a more efficient result.
In the example above the person bought 10 windows and 1 sliding door and qualified for $1,100 in tax credits. The cost of that upgrade compared to a more common efficiency package is likely to be in the range of $2,000.
In that case you’d be paying $2,000 in order to get a tax credit of $1,100. The net result is you paid $900 more and got windows that are much more efficient.
So, you’re not going to get new windows for free as a result of these tax credits, but it does offset the increased cost that comes with an efficiency upgrade.
That efficiency upgrade will make your home more comfortable and lower your utility costs for decades so it’s definitely something to consider. Especially with Uncle Sam paying part of the bill.
What else to know about window and door tax credits?
It’s important to note that you’re only eligible for these tax credits if the windows and doors are installed in your primary home. Rental houses don’t count.
You don’t need a professional to install the windows. You could install them yourself. However, it’s unlikely you’ll find windows efficient enough to qualify on the shelf at Home Depot. It takes higher end window to qualify. Products like that are typically sold through dealers or window companies.
Some manufacturers likely won’t have products that can meet these standards. The requirements are pretty strict. Some will also likely only have very expensive ways to qualify. This is because some companies will need to use krypton gas between the panes and that’s an expensive solution.
If you’re considering ordering windows it’s worthwhile to understand the cost difference involved in the upgrade that would qualify so you can make an informed decision.
Update: The friendly folks at Kensington HPP have reached out to us with some new info about their company and it’s relationship to another company formerly known as Kensington Windows. This post is an update to an earlier post I wrote about Kensington. Everything you’ll read in this post is accurate as far as I know based on my conversations with the folks at Kensington HPP.
So, with that said, if a google search for Kensington Windows lead you to this page you’ll fall into one of two camps.
If you have Kensington Windows in your house and you’re looking for warranty or service information:
You’ll want to pay close attention to when the windows were manufactured. There was another company, legally unrelated to the current company, that went out of business in 2008. They don’t exist anymore and if you have warranty issue you’re likely out of luck.
If your windows were manufactured after that you’re likely in luck and you can contact Kensington HPP or the contractor that installed them for service issues.
If you’re shopping for new windows and a contractor recommended windows from Kensington HPP then you’re in better shape. Here’s the scoop on that company.
After the old Kensington Windows company went out of business in 2008 and the assets of that company and another window manufacturer called Republic Windows in Chicago were purchased by Serious Materials out of California in 2009. They were trying to get into the window business on the cheap during the financial crisis.
I remember reading an article about their maneuvers with the financing and the unions back then thinking they sounded like a smart group of people. Unfortunately that plan didn’t work out so well and Serious left the window business in 2013.
A group of the former executives from the old Kensington Windows got together and reopened a new company called Kensington HPP that now offers windows in most of the eastern half of the country. If you’re wondering Kensington HPP stands for High Performance Products.
They took over operations from Serious in 2013 so they’re been around in their current form for 4 years or so as of this writing. That certainly doesn’t make them the lowest tenured company around, but we all started out somewhere. My company is about to turn 10 years old and when we had only been in business for 4 years we still offered great service.
The models offered by Kensington HPP are:
Euro Tilt and Turn
At this point I don’t have enough info about their products to offer great reviews, but if they send the info I’ll be happy to publish more content.
They are also the only vinyl window manufacturer in the country that uses heat mirror technology. This is a 3 pane sealed unit with the center pane being a plastic material instead of glass. I’ve heard of some rather high prices for Heat Mirror products. To decide if it’s right for you be sure to get past the sales jargon and compare the efficiency ratings vs the cost. You should be able to tell rather easily if the increase in efficiency is worth the increase in cost.
If I hear about any new info from the folks at Kensington HPP I’ll be happy to post it and if you have any experience with their company or their products feel free to post a comment for everyone to see.
What if I have more questions about Kensington HPP windows?
Looking for any additional information on Kensington HPP windows that you’re not finding here? Post a comment and let us know. We’ll be glad to help out!
How can you find a great window company?
When shopping for windows I do always suggest finding a great installation company before you fall in love with any particular window model. There are plenty of great window options out there but not as many local companies that are great to work with.
To know which companies to avoid you can find common window sales tactics here. That’s become one of the most popular sections on the site.
Remember, for more great window company info you can find our suggestions for the best local companies in 2023 right here. There’s no need to work with a company that gives you the run-around or makes the process difficult. There are plenty of fish in the sea as they say. The best way to get started is to check out our list of great window companies here.
Unfortunately another smaller window manufacturer has closed their doors for good. It looks like Vista Window Company is gone. Their voicemail says they closed due to unforeseen circumstances and their google listing says they’re closed for good. We always hate to see a company struggle. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to continue to get more difficult for smaller window companies to compete.
What happens with the Vista Windows Warranty?
We’ve reached out to Vista Window Company and asked about the status of any pending orders and if there is any process for warranty claims as I’m sure our readers will be asking.
Right now, I would guess that there is no warranty and owners of these windows may be out of luck. If we hear back with any info I’ll update this page right away.
What about pending orders for Vista Windows?
If you have an order pending for Vista windows I’d reach out to your contractor or dealer right away to make sure they can offer you something else. Most reputable contractors will have credit terms established with manufacturers so they likely haven’t actually paid for your windows. That means the contractor still has any deposit you’ve given them and you can (hopefully) order something else. If they tell you the deposit is spent you might want to check with an attorney as you’ll probably have a hard time getting that money back.
If you hear any info that is different than what we’re written here please let us know asap. You can post a comment or contact us privately. I’m sure many folks will have questions about the status of Vista Window Company so any info you have to share will be helpful.
What if I was about to order Vista Windows?
Consider yourself lucky! It’s time to order something else. I’d look towards larger manufacturers. You never know what the future may hold for any company, but there are plenty of large and we’ll established companies out there. There’s no need to take a gamble on a smaller player.
If/when we receive any new information on Vista Windows we’ll post it on this page so feel free to bookmark this page and check back for updates anytime.
You heard it here first, BF Rich windows will cease operations immediately. They informed their customers and employees earlier this week that they will be closing their doors for good. We received this tip several days ago and waited to verify the information before publishing. It is certainly unfortunate news.
As a business owner myself it’s not easy to talk about any company going out of business. Their employees, suppliers and customers will surely be negatively impacted. The biggest challenge here will be for their customers with pending orders and their past customers whose warranties will likely be useless.
Folks bought these windows with the expectation of a lifetime warranty and they will likely not receive that benefit. Even worse, there may be folks with pending orders that can’t be filled.
We haven’t heard any news about how pending orders or future warranty claims will be handled. We’ll update this post with additional info if and when we receive it.
BF Rich was founded in 1957 and currently employs approximately 130 people in their window manufacturing facility in Delaware. They have a very long history in the industry. I know one of our installers in the area was a huge fan of their products and was frequently trying to get us to carry them in our retail stores.
Remember when folks ask us for recommendations of replacement windows we often talk about the risks associated with working with a small manufacturing company. Just in the last several years we’ve seen Gorell, Republic, Schuco, Kensington, Serious and BF Rich windows close their doors for good.
These companies often have great brochures and convincing salespeople. Unfortunately, they can’t help you when an issue like this arises.
Smaller window manufactures are faced with relatively high fixed costs in a very competitive business. When they’re faced with a slowdown in sales, the need to retool a plant or the expiration of certain credit facilities they can quickly find themselves in a bad situation with very few options.
I saw a comment from the VP of Sales at BF Rich windows saying that their troubles stemmed from the great recession of 2007. This likely means that they were unable to secure the financing they needed to maintain their business. In my experience most retail replacement window companies have fully recovered from the slowdown of that period. That would mean their wholesale sales should have recovered, but there is probably more to the story.
Window manufacturers may still be feeling the effects do to the way their fixed costs, equipment and manufacturing facilities are financed. Many manufactures have also updated their product lines in recent years which is undoubtedly an expensive process. This means new designs, new tooling and much more. A company with limited financing options may not be able to make that investment in the business. That would cause them to have less competitive products, which would cause difficulty in attracting new customers and achieving much needed price increases.
It’s a shame to hear of a window manufacturer going out of business, but it’s likely to continue to happen. The industry is very fragmented and is undergoing a period of consolidation.
We’ll continue to report the industry news as we receive it and I’ll do my best to recommend products that are offered by companies that are likely to stand the test of time.
We thank the tipster who sent in this information and if you have any more info on this situation or anything else going on in the window industry please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com