Window attachment product and material manufacturers can now independently and accurately certify the energy-efficient attributes of their products, thanks to an exciting new program launching early this year. The Attachments Energy Rating Council (AERC) is looking for manufacturers who want to participate in this program, so keep reading to learn more. Or, if you are a homeowner, see what could be coming to stores near you later this year!
AERC – a nonprofit organization whose mission is to rate, label, and certify the energy performance of window attachments – was formed in 2014 after analysis conducted by the Building Technologies Office (BTO) determined these products, such as blinds, shades, shutters, and storm windows, have the potential to save significant energy in residential and commercial buildings. AERC was created using joint funding by the Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) and BTO.
AERC, with assistance from BTO, has developed the AERC Energy Improvement Program, which is designed to inform consumers about the energy-saving benefits of window attachments. At the center of this program is the AERC Energy Improvement label, which is expected to appear on products in the spring of this year. This label indicates the energy performance of individual window attachment products.
The AERC Energy Improvement label was designed with industry input to be easy to use and understand by an average homeowner. But underlying these streamlined graphic labels is three years of intense laboratory research, including new algorithm development, laboratory hotbox and field testbed validation, and then over 1 million annual energy simulations to explore all of the intricacies of attachment energy performance with different housing types, base windows, and climates. This work by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) resulted in the AERCalc tool that generates the rating numbers that the consumer sees on the AERC Improvement label.
Interested in learning more about the AERC Energy Improvement Program and label? Check out our Q&A session below with AERC Executive Director Ralph Vasami.
Q: Why did AERC develop an energy improvement program for window attachments?
A: BTO supported the formation of AERC for the purpose of developing a program that would provide both the general public and industry professionals – such as consumers, architects, builders, code officials, and utilities, among others – with reliable information about the energy performance of window attachments to help them make more informed decisions when purchasing these products.
Q: What information does the AERC Energy Improvement label provide?
A: The AERC Energy Improvement label indicates a product’s energy performance in both warm and cool climates. The energy performance is easily identified by two prominent numbers: one that indicates the product’s energy performance rating in cool climates and another that indicates the product’s energy performance rating in warmer climates. Both of these ratings are on a scale from 0 to a “Max” rating, which differs depending on the product category. The closer the cool or warm climate ratings are to the “Max” rating listed, the better that product will perform in each climate.
Q: How do I know which products qualify for certification?
A: All manufacturers of window attachment products, or materials used in window attachment products, are eligible to certify their products according to the standards set forth by AERC. At this time, AERC has developed standards for blinds (slat shades), cellular shades, storm windows and panels, pleated shades, roller shades, and solar screens. Additional product types will be added to the standards program in the near future, including awnings, rollers shutters, drapes, louvered shutters, roman shades, window film, and sheer shades.
Q: How are products certified?
A: Energy performance is calculated through LBNL’s AERCalc software tool, in conjunction with two other LBNL software tools, THERM and WINDOW, to certify each product. These simulations are then streamlined into a user-friendly certification label that will be on products in stores later this year. All certified products will also be included in a Certified Product Search database on www.AERCEnergyRating.org that will have product information this spring. You can find webinar slides, application instructions, and the application form online to start the certification process.
Q: How will homeowners and other purchasers learn about the AERC Energy Improvement program and label?
A: AERC partners with local, regional, and national energy-efficiency groups, retailers, utilities and other government agencies to develop a wide range of outreach mechanisms to inform those purchasing window attachments about this new program.
Q: Where can I learn more about the AERC Energy Improvement program and its standards?
A: All standards are available for review at www.aercnet.org. To learn more about the energy improvement program, contact AERC at info@AERCnet.org.