Monthly Archives: July 2013

As BFRC launches A+ windows, the ASA uphold a complaint against Everest

14

Gl@zine reported that BFRC, the British Fenestration Ratings Council has officially launched a new ‘A+’ band at the top of its energy efficiency scale for Window Energy Ratings (WERs).

Previously, an A rated window was anything greater than 0zero, a significant step because its these windows can legitimately claim that against the WER scale, their products are energy neutral or energy positive. B,C or lower scales still lose more energy than they save, only A rated trapped more solar gain than it lost.

Now, the companies and their marketing departments will promote A+ over A rated products, however whilst lower scaled products lose heat (B,C,D etc) the selling difference between two A rated products is likely to be less important, as they are both energy positive.

However Everest have run into trouble it was announced yesterday, when the ASA the advertising standards agency ruled that their claims concerning their A rated windows were better than others, was found to be misleading. Everest were instructed that the advertisement should not reappear in the same format. See the full report here.

Anyway here is the news from BFRC which as the article on Gl@zine magazine web site

BFRC is now accepting applications for the new ‘A+’band, which applies to windows only. Any BFRC ‘A’ rated product which achieves a rating index of 10 or more can be upgraded to an ‘A+’ for an administration fee of £50 (ex VAT).

Alternatively, manufacturers can also apply for new ‘A+’ licences. All applications must be accompanied by a simulation report and can be made either directly to BFRC or through an Independent Agency.

These new ‘A+’ licences are available both as Simplified Energy Licences (SELs) and Detailed Energy Licences (DELs). The first batch of ‘A+’ rated windows will all be announced on the same day in mid to late August.

“The availability of the BFRC ‘A+’ rating band allows manufacturers to offer the most energy efficient product to homeowners,” commented BFRC Chairman Giles Willson. “It also allows the most technically advanced producers to benefit from the marketing opportunities derived from BFRC ratings and being among the first in the industry to offer ‘A+’ windows”.

What’s your view, are all A rated windows the same, is energy efficiency the only driver, is cost more important or aesthetics? Leave you point of view.

For more information on ‘A+’ please contact BFRC direct:

Tel 020 7403 9200 or enquiries@bfrc.org

 

 

This entry was posted in News info and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

ASA uphold misleading advert against Windowsanddoorsprices.co.uk

price of double glazing

The advertising standards agency yesterday ruled that a window and door company were found to be misleading in their advertisement and upheld a decision in favour of the complainant.

Seems the company, “Windows and Doors Prices UK Ltd” who trade as Windowsanddoorsprices.co.uk on the internet are not actually a supplier of windows and doors themselves, they are an internet based, lead generation affiliate website. They did not deliver the work for customers, but passed details submitted on to windows companies and networks of companies, so that these businesses can contact the enquirer.

Misleading advertising. 

On this occasion, the complainant questioned the accuracy of their claims.

  • “You could be comparing prices in LESS THAN A MINUTE”;
  • “The UK’s No. 1 Windows & Doors Price Comparison Website!”;
  • “How it works …
  • 1. Enter your details
  • 2. We provide you with prices from trusted companies
  • 3. You compare and get the best possible prices”;
  • “Why Compare Prices?
  • We can offer a huge saving of up to 75% off windows, doors and conservatories
  • You can compare up to 5 prices provided by trusted local companies
  • Our service is completely free and you have no obligation to buy anything Avoid rogue and cowboy tradesmen as we stringently vet all companies
  • It only takes 20 seconds to start comparing prices online”.

Whilst they understood that Windowsanddoorsprices.co.uk would forward their details onto window and door companies rather than receiving valid quotations to compare they challenged whether the claims about a price comparison service were misleading.

Windows and Doors Prices UK Ltd t/a Windowsanddoorsprices.co.uk said they thought most of their customers believed their website was accurate and appropriate.

Apparently they confirmed they are a lead generation website and that they should expect 3 to 5 contractors to provide quotations. They went on to say that their reference to “20 seconds to start comparing prices” referred to the time it took to complete the form and not when someone would have the quotes to compare.

The ASA upheld the complaint against them.

The ASA considered “that the ad, and in particular the references to price comparisons and that you could compare prices in “less than a minute” and “20 seconds”, implied that by filling in the web form consumers would be served with a number of prices online which they could then compare.

Whilst they understood that Windows and Doors Prices UK passed on the details submitted to their partner companies, they considered that this was “likely to affect a consumer’s decision to fill in the web form and provide their details, and that the website should have accurately described the service that they offered.

They concluded the ad and claims referring to a price comparison service were misleading, in breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 (Qualification) and that  the ad must not appear again in its current form.

We told Windows and Doors Prices UK to ensure that the description of the service they offered did not mislead and to make clear that customer’s personal details would be passed on to their partner companies.

Our thoughts.

This is yet one more example of where consumers are asked to leave their personal details not knowing who they are being passed onto. It could be 2 or 3 companies or several, consumers have no way of controlling them.

Additionally, checking a little further there may be additional issues which we have raised with the ASA and await their reply, namely;

  • There isn’t any record of a limited company called “Windows and Doors Prices UK Ltd” at company house….that’s odd, isn’t this checked by the ASA?
  • the website it fails to provide details of the company that owns it. All web sites must have the details of the companies that run the site.

It is precisely because of these “lead generation sites” who capture, sell or pass on, valuable lead information that we created the “my shortlist” tab, enabling retail customers to select and invite the companies they thought were best suited, having first read real user feedback from previous customers.

Moral of the story,

NEVER fill in on line forms unless you are willing for your personal data to be shared or sold onto other companies.

Adjudication number A13-230101

Read the full Adjudication on Windows and Doors Prices UK Ltd  t/a Windowsanddoorsprices.co.uk here.

This entry was posted in ASA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

The impact of ‘CE’ marking of double glazed windows for good design and town planning….

CE logo

From 1st July European Union regulations make it is mandatory for most construction products, including replacement double glazed windows, to carry the ‘CE’ mark.

In this second regular feature, our consultant town planning expert looks at some of the possible implications of this for good design, town planning and the protection of traditional British architectural character.

The ‘CE’ mark and the Construction Products Regulations

The Construction Products Regulations (CPR) came fully into effect on 1st July 2013. This is intended to harmonise the conformity of construction products traded and used within the European Union. Construction products (with a few specified exceptions) must now carry a ‘CE’ mark – similar to that we’ve seen on kitchen ‘white goods’ such as cookers and fridges for sometime (A – H rating). The ‘CE’ mark declares the manufacturer of the product is satisfied that it meets health, safety and environmental performance standards expected within Europe.

On the face of it this appears to be a good thing for the consumer/client and the global environment. Inevitably there is additional legal responsibility and burden on the product manufacturer but you might say that is unavoidable and necessary?

However, experts point to several problems in the application of the ‘CE’ marking methodology for which it is possible ‘to use cheats’ (as the gaming generation would say) and more fundamentally, as to whether the CPR requirement should apply to ‘bespoke’ made-to-order products like replacement double glazed windows at all?

Others are better qualified than me to comment on these problems in detail and no doubt the debate will build now the CE marking requirement is upon us…. To summarise some of the key issues that have been pointed out to me by experts:

  • First, the burdens the CPR creates are wide and complex and it seems unlikely that the new legal obligations have been fully understood by all window manufactures, installers fitting glass supplied by one manufacturer into new frames supplied by another or  builders and ‘micro businesses’ (less than 10 employees) who might have thought they enjoyed an exemption from this. Did you know it is now illegal to advertise construction products on the web without the necessary a CE mark in place?
  • Second, where construction products such as replacement windows are assembled using products produced by others, then a rating for the assembled product can be ‘derived’ from the source manufacturers documentation. But this rating will be highly doubtful and the methodology for assessing details items such as the impact of glazing bars on the thermal performance of a whole window is highly arbitrary; it overrides or even ignores other far more significant factors (see further explanation below).
  • Third, does ‘CE’ marking really add anything? We are already required to declare product performance against European Standards (formerly the British Standards) and European Technical Assessments (such as that by the British Board of Agreement (BBA)) which tell us about the performance of building products on a far broader basis than required by the ‘CE’ mark. We also have the Building Regulations which look at the appropriate specification for a construction product to be used in a given design situation (e.g. should a particular window be specified to enable fire escape).

So what does this all mean for good architectural design and town planning?

What type of construction products do we need for good design and town planning?

Good architectural design and town planning aims to improve the energy efficiency and performance of buildings and places, while respecting important and distinctive local character and architectural features. We want to keep what makes buildings and places special to people whilst moving forward. Looking closely at the development of both national and local planning policies over the last 10-15 years we can see a clear shift in priorities; from protecting heritage at the foremost, to a wider balancing concern for the wider environmental, social and economic dimensions, mitigation of climate change, and the encouragement of innovation, energy efficiency and renewable new materials.

However, clear aesthetic limits remain – this encouragement of ‘the new’ should NOT at the cost of serious harm to important distinctive local building character and heritage. The new National Planning Policy Framework is clear that we should consider to the ‘significance’ of our ‘heritage assets’ and respond in our designs accordingly – whether it’s a highly prized Grade 2 Listed Building of vernacular design and construction or a more common but cherished street of ‘1930’s semi’s ’.

So we need a wide range of high performance construction products; including replacement double glazed windows that ‘look right’ in our local traditional and heritage buildings. There is not and should not be a standard ‘Euro-window’ style.

What are the implications of ‘CE’ marking for good town planning?

Customers and salespeople looking at replacement windows will be familiar with the ‘CE’ marking approach; it appears trustworthy and the ratings given are simple to follow – without needing to understand ‘what goes on under the bonnet’. Customers and salespeople are likely to place great emphasis on it in the decision making. And this is where some of the technical limitations of the methodology used in ‘CE’ marking and it’s application to replacement windows come to the fore.

For example, the thermal transmittance of windows (U Value) is measured using the European Standard (EN 14351-1). This European Standard is based on a typical single pane (double glazed) window as widely found in mainland Europe – without glazing bars. This is different to British traditional windows in which glazing bars are far more common and indeed important to our local traditional characters and design.

The European Standard (Annex J of EN 14351-1) applies a rather rude and arbitrary adjustment factor to the calculation of the U Value of a single pane(double glazed) window to establish the U Value performance of several types of cross bar and glazing bar. Technical experts have shown me how these factors are crude, exaggerating and heavily weighing against the use of convincingly designed glazing bars fitted to double glazed windows by making unreasonable reductions to the U value and therefore the ‘CE’ mark energy rating of a double glazed window. This methodology far and away overrides or even ignores other far more important considerations such as the size of the window, the method and quality of installation, and other design details.

The danger is people will focus overly on a the misleading ‘CE’ rating over other indicators and factors, which will dissuade customers from specifying the glazing bar features that can be vital to achieving the visual appearance and qualities that are aesthetically necessary for good visual design and planning.

Debate will continue about the methodology used ‘under the bonnet’ in the ‘CE’ marking and indeed, whether ‘bespoke’ made to measure replacement windows should carry a ‘CE’ mark at all. The double glazing window industry has largely moved on from the ‘bad old days’ of crude replacement windows wrecking the traditional appearance of our housing – the danger of ‘CE’ marking is that unless we are very careful about its use it could lead to a retrograde step backwards?! And today I’ve only looked at replacement windows; what about the implications for other construction products…..?

These views are those of

Michael Thornton MRTPI

Merit Thornton Planning Ltd

Regrettably we are unable to answer any specific planning issue however we do try to offer general answers on the blog, please add your comment.

 

 

.

This entry was posted in CE marking and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

WHICH uncover several issues with Green Deal assesments.

thermostat

Which magazine, tried to invite 21 green deal companies to assess the needs of an undercover researcher but could get just 5 to provide an assessment, even then the findings were vastly different, even “appalling”.

Seems some recommended energy savings measures that were unsuitable for the particular properties, they didn’t ask enough questions about heating methods and consumption, made the wrong classification of the wall construction and were inaccurate with floor area calculations.

That said three of the five were assessed as “fair”, 60% can hardly be considered a good pass rate, with 40% being unfair, misleading or wrong?

You can read more here or the full article, ‘Green Deal or no deal’, appears in the August issue of Which? magazine. If you’re not already a Which? member, sign up for a trial for £1 for full access to our website and Which? magazine.

This entry was posted in Green Deal, WHICH and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Consequential Improvements, case lost in the High Court

Makers-mark

Reports in Green Wise yesterday reported that ACE, the Conservation of Energy alliance who represents insulation and heating companies, lost its legal challenge with the government. ACE wanted a judicial review because they felt the government had changed their policy decision (previously supported) without “coherent reasons”.

This news has mixed reactions; consequential improvements may have meant extra work and opportunities for vast numbers employed in these sectors. However there were fears that it would require home owners to change all their windows when building an extension. Sales of conservatories are already very low, so insisting that homeowners spend even more to upgrade the rest of the house seems to make sense.

Seems the case was thrown out because of the grounds on which the case was presented, they reported that;

Mr Justice Nichols ruled that a Government Minister is entitled to make any policy decision he considers appropriate, provided he has “genuinely considered” representations made during the consultation.

Andrew Warren, director of ACE was very disappointed as this decision would now not deliver the CO2 reductions, an estimated £11billion of activity nor the 2.2 million green deals he had forecast.

This is likely to stimulate the glazing sectors requests to be given the same VAT treatment as other energy efficiency measures and new incentives like stamp duty rebates if improvements are made within two years of moving home.

 

This entry was posted in Extensions and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Governments marketing company for Green Deal fined £45k

17

According to a report in The Drum, “a marketing firm employed by the government to promote its Green Deal for  householders has been fined £45k by the Information Commissioner’s Office for  making thousands of nuisance calls”

Seems Tameside Energy Preferences harassed homeowners to consider improvements like cavity wall and loft insulation, boilers, central heating and new double glazing.

ICO director of operations, Simon Entwisle, said: “This is not the first and  will not be the last monetary penalty issued by the ICO for unwanted marketing  calls. Companies need to listen – bombarding the public with cold calls will  not be tolerated, suggesting that were it not for the company’s poor financial position, this  monetary penalty would have been £90,000″.

That’s outrageous.

Company directors have a duty to know what is lawful, what their employees are saying and for compliance. Just because this company is in a poor way the fine is halved, so that they can continue!

Fine them hard, shut them down, they know the legislation. Window companies have taken enormous strides to clean up its selling activities, we don’t want the government nor their marketing company to tarnish us again with bad practises.

Read more at http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/07/09/green-deal-marketing-firm-fined-45k-over-nuisance-calls#t2m6HSvSu1iCMuqS.99

This entry was posted in Green Deal and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

BBC claim green deal homes likely to overheat

ideal home show

The BBC suggest that homes improved under the Green Deal are likely to overheat during this spell of warmer weather, this warning has also been issued by Professor Chris Goodier, from Loughborough University’s department of Civil and Building Engineering.

Two things, firstly thatched cottages were warm in winter and cool in summer because of the insulation that thatch provides, so is modern insulation any different, no its just people living in thatched properties understand that ventilation (or through draught) is vital as it removes the warm air that overheats us all.

So why don’t modern homes have sufficient ventilation?

Well they do, new homes are required to have a minimum of 4 air changes per hour (8 or 12 in some cases) roughly equivalent to 1/20th of the floor area should be open able. Less professional double glazing companies often ignore this requirement knowing that Fensa or Certass do not spend time ensuring compliance, they don’t measure the floor area to confirm the opening area is correct. As a result, these organisations install fixed glazing where open-able units previously existed, legally.

We have seen evidence that sash windows remove 98% of the overheated air within 5 minutes, whereas single opening casements take several hours to change 70% of it, with much of the hot air remaining trapped inside the room.

Instead of insisting like for like replacements (sash with sash) these competent persons schemes permit single outward opening lights, being inserted into the existing box frame.

This creates a number of problems, firstly top hinged opening windows act like an ice-cream scoop, they actually collect the hot air and scoop it into the room, so its not the insulation its the design of the window that creates the overheating.

Then there’s the issue that trapped air cannot circulate. Air above the transom (half way up the window) gets trapped between the transom and the ceiling, making the top of the room the most stuffy and overheated.

Lastly is the fact that these inserts, make the open-able area narrower and very often much shorter (unlike 50/50 sash openers) hence far less air movement, far more overheating.

So if you are considering changing your windows and wish to avoid being too hot in summer remember insulation isn’t the problem, ventilation and the lack of good design creates the overheating, which can be avoided if correct windows are installed.

 

 

This entry was posted in Green Deal and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

GGF call for more action if Green Deal is to work

ggf logo

The GGF reacted strongly to the Green Deal (see here) and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) following the release of statistics by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
The report shows that 38,259 Green Deal assessments have taken place as of 16 June 2013, however 241 Green Deal Plans are in the system as of 16 June 2013 and just four Green Deal Plans are pending/taken up. Of these just 1,668 assessments (or 5%) included windows as a recommended measure.

1527  recommendations were for Double Glazing, 124 for secondary glazing and 17 for triple glazing.

None of the 5,118 cash back vouchers that had been issued to 16 June had been used on windows, nearly all were for boilers.

On seeing the overview of the report Nigel Rees, GGF Group Chief executive commented,

” the ECO plan is simply not addressing the issue of making homes effectively energy efficient. There’s no point putting in loft insulation when the heat can escape out of old energy inefficient windows.”

He went on to say that,

“In the pilot scheme for Green Deal last August in the North East, it showed that over 80% of participants wanted replacement windows under Green Deal. The recent report however shows that replacement windows and glazing are only recommended in 5% of the Green Deal assessments because of the limitations of the RdSAP software used by Assessors.

Apparently one of the GGF staff received a Green Deal assessment for their own home, but because his house was mainly double-glazed, the remaining single-glazed doors and windows were not recommended for replacement.

The GGF attended the All Party Parliamentary Green Deal Group Meeting at Portcullis House earlier this week where Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Greg Barker, Minister for Energy and Climate Change both spoke and took questions from a diverse audience of manufacturers, installers, trade associations, finance companies, energy suppliers, local housing associations, consultants and advisory bodies.

Worryingly whilst ministers accepted there were “many issues” and that “teething problems were anticipated” they reiterated GD was a long term (25 year) plan, however they then added “the success of Green Deal was down to everyone involved and not just the Government.”

No, No, No, Mr Davey and Mr Barker, it is you that set the rules, it is you that failed to listen to the concerned voices, it is your plan. Whilst GD may be laudable, if you insist upon a poorly executed concept (that industry warned you against) then please don’t say it is industry that shares some of the blame.

For more information on Green Deal and its impact on the glazing industry please visit the GGF website www.ggf.org.uk

This entry was posted in Green Deal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Green Deal likely to create two tier housing market.

thermostat

Citizens of the Channel Islands have had a two tier housing sector for years, the cheaper local market and more expensive open market for newcomers to the channel islands.

Seems the Green Deal is now due to divide the rest of the mainland in a similar way, those who still have a Green Deal loan attached to the property and those which are free from any such loan.

Because a Green Deal loan is not a personal loan, it stays with the property until it is repaid by the tenant or homeowner. However in social housing, the landlords must pay any charges until the tenant has confirmed their acceptance of the repayments.

Despite many warnings by industry government has completely misread the UK public, of course people want something for nothing, who wouldn’t, its just this isn’t for nothing. Repayments could take 25 years to clear, onerous and expensive interest payments directed towards those least able to make the repayments.

Even when deals are confirmed  and energy savings measures installed, we are far more likely to shed a layer of clothes before we turn down the thermostat, so in effect, green deal is making our rooms more comfortable to live in, rather than reducing energy consumption.

This entry was posted in Green Deal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.