Tom Kraeutler: Well, now that fall has arrived, it’s a time when millions of consumers start taking a really hard look at their windows. Maybe they’re having flashbacks to last year’s heating bills or the discomfort of sitting near a perennially drafty window, and they’re thinking about shopping. Does that sound like you? Well, if it is, the questions that you’ll be facing are, “How do I make the best decision on the window to buy?” With me to talk about that topic is Brad Jackson. Brad is a segment marketing manager for Andersen Windows. Brad has some good advice on how to make the best decision when it comes to choosing a window for your home. Brad, I think the first thing that consumers face is trying to make an apples to apples comparison when looking at windows, and it seems to be near impossible, given most of the information that’s coming at them.
Brad Jackson: Yeah, you want to make sure, for windows, there’s many different manufacturers that are out there, and also many different types of materials they go with, so you want to make sure that you’re using a winter material that, best suited for your situation.
Tom Kraeutler: Aside from deciding the materials, how do you judge energy efficiency? Because that seems to be a claim that’s both used and abused, so how do you make sense of the energy efficiency claims?
Brad Jackson: Yeah. The NFRC, National Fenestration Rating Council, does rate all of our windows. All of our windows are NFRC-rated, so you want to make sure that you are comparing those values, and they look at factors like the U-value, the solar heat gain coefficient, and the visible transmittance that they’re all within the NFRC Energy Star label.
Tom Kraeutler: Yeah, let’s talk about that. That’s a great scorecard, the NFRC label, and it’s something that is consistent across all the windows. You mentioned several factors covered by the NFRC rating. One is the U-factor. What is the U-factor?
Brad Jackson: The U-factor is essentially the insulating properties of the window itself, with the glass and also the framing materials.
Tom Kraeutler: The other important one is the solar heat gain, and I think that is critical, because windows not only keep the warm air in, they keep the cold air from escaping in the summertime.
Brad Jackson: Exactly. The solar heat gain coefficient is how much of that sun’s energy is going to transfer from the outside to the inside of the home.
Tom Kraeutler: How does Andersen work with existing homeowners? Andersen Windows have a wide distribution model. I mean, you can pick them up at your local home center, you can buy them through your builder or window dealer, and you also have a division that’s devoted just to working with homeowners on the remodeling business. That’s called Renewal by Andersen, correct? How does that work?
Brad Jackson: Yeah, Renewal by Andersen is a company where they market directly to homeowners and deal exclusively with window and door replacement. Then with a traditional Andersen product, we have relationships with many of our dealers, and also contractors that work with the Andersen products in remodeling situations and home improvement.
Tom Kraeutler: What are some of the newest innovations that Andersen’s been rolling out over the last year or so?
Brad Jackson: Yeah, the Monumental Doors is big, so many people want to go big and go large on their doors, so every year at the remodeling show, we have our 10-foot E-Series patio door that we have on display here. Also, we’ve come out with new interior finishes, modern homes and more and more [apartments 00:02:51], so we have black interiors that’s available now in our 100 and also our 400 Series product that give that modern, contemporary look to homes.
Tom Kraeutler: Smart homes have also become more important than ever before, and you have a technology that actually helps us know if our windows or doors are left open. That’s something that is surprisingly a main cause of burglaries in this country, so how does that work?
Brad Jackson: Yeah, the technology is called VeriLock, and not only open or close, but they also … These are only sensors that are going to tell if your windows are locked or unlocked, so you want to make sure those windows are locked so you’re going to get the energy efficiency performance of it, but also from a security standpoint. When you go to bed, and when you’re away from home, you want to make sure those windows are locked. Now, the VeriLock system is available both in a professionally monitored system, but there’s also a self-monitoring system that homeowners can actually monitor if their windows are open or closed or locked or unlocked, through their smartphones.
Tom Kraeutler: Now, you’ve also got a new window out that’s part of what you call your 100 Series that is made of a composite material, and I guess that that’s going to be a lot more decay-resistant than any organic product out there, right?
Brad Jackson: Yeah, that’s correct. The material’s called Fibrex material, and what Fibrex is, it’s a wood-vinyl composite, so we take the best of both worlds. The best of wood, which is its strength, and also the best of vinyl, which is low-maintenance material. We’ve combined those to create a composite material called Fibrex, which is what we use to manufacture our 100 Series product.
Tom Kraeutler: Is that very environmentally friendly, when you’re talking about materials that are combined like that?
Brad Jackson: It is, it is, because many of the wood fibers are actually reclaimed through Andersen’s wood manufacturing process. Those wood fibers are then combined with the vinyl to create the Fibrex material.
Tom Kraeutler: Not a drop is left to waste. Brad Jackson from Andersen Windows. Thank you so much for being a part of The Money Pit Podcast.
Brad Jackson: Great. Thanks for your time. Appreciate it.