Back to the future
We all know that we need to sell the energy efficiency of our products to win the sales, says Listers MD Roy Frost, but do we have the products to back it up? We report.
The energy efficiency of building products has been high on the list of homeowners’ priorities for 20 years or more now, and arguably more so (and for longer) for double glazing and doors where eradicating draughts and cold spots were key selling points.
“The fact that our industry has responded so comprehensively to the task of meeting – and exceeding – Part L of the Building Regulations, almost worked against companies who wanted to use energy efficiency as a key selling point to homeowners,” argues Roy Frost, Managing Director of Listers.
“When we introduced Window Energy Ratings, it soon lost its strength as a selling tool because nearly everyone designed A-rated products they were attractive to homeowners.”
So, while energy efficiency was a key feature of windows and doors, homeowners could turn their attention to other qualities, such as security, colour, and character, because energy efficiency was a given.
“But that is changing,” Roy argues. “Following on from the revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations this summer, window companies can once again drill down on energy efficiency as a key selling feature.” The From June this year, Part L of the Building Regulations (Conservation of Fuel and Power) requires windows and doors (with a glazed are of more than 60%) to achieve U-values as low as 1.4W/m2K – down from 1.6W/m2K.
“We are now reaching the design limit for many products on the market,” Roy says. “So, while there is still breathing space for many companies, the direction for travel is for tighter regulations and more efficient products.
“And this is where the opportunity comes from a sales point of view. Why say that your products meet the current regs when you can say they are future-proofed? And it is likely that homeowners are bringing forward planned refurbishment so they can insulate their homes in time for when the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme ends in April 2023.”
Listers’ product ranges contain some of the most energy efficient windows and doors on the market. Their Residence 9 range, for example, can achieve U-values as low as 1.23W/m2k with 28mm double glazing, and 0.84W/m2k with 44mm triple glazing. This comfortably meets the latest Part L revisions, while giving plenty of headroom for further tightening of the Building Regulations.
Residence 9 is also typically specified in higher value properties where budgets haven’t been squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis. But energy efficiency is still a key feature, because the smart money is on improving the thermal efficiency of homes to protect against soaring costs in the future.
On the aluminium side, Sheerline’s Prestige windows achieve U-values as low as 0.9W/m2k with triple glazing, giving homeowners the confidence to improve their properties with the latest modern designs, while improving their thermal efficiency.
“Again, aluminium products are not typically chosen in a distress purchase scenario,” Roy says. “So sales of high margin products are driving the market right now, while underpinned by improved thermal performance.”
Listers underpins this supply of energy efficient products with a commitment to providing the right support to help window companies complete the sale efficiently and profitably.
Colour is a key offering for Listers, which is compatible across all ranges and materials, and in the same timeframe.
“The most popular colours at Listers are available from stock, whether that’s aluminium or PVC-U,” Roy says. “This kind of detail is important if you are buying your aluminium and PVC-U products from a single source.”
Roy argues that while installers can now buy PVC-U products in Agate Grey in Eurocell, HALO, or Residence Flush on short lead-times – the bi-fold at the back of the house is typically aluminium.
“Agate grey on white isn’t a stock colour in the majority of aluminium systems,” Roy says. “But with Sheerline, it is on the same short lead time, which means we can offer installers the same lead time as our PVC-U products.
“They key point, I believe, is that energy efficiency will be the underlying factor of most purchasing decisions when it comes to home improvement. We saw, over the last ten years especially, low U-values and WERs of A lose their importance as people went for flush window and broader colour choices. “Now, they are back at the top of homeowners’ lists of importance, and choosing the right supplier can help you capitalise on that demand.”