It wasn’t that long ago that the BFRC had to readjust it’s certification and introduce a new band of energy efficiency, this was the A+ rating. This was for windows that had a window energy rating of A+10 or above. It had to be changed because at the time there were so many windows on the market that went past the +10 mark, it was starting to look a bit silly. But I think it may be time to reassess those certificates again.

Way above the +10 level

Since that certification revision, the glass industry has continued to push the boundaries of energy efficient glass, as they rightly should. What that has meant is new window energy ratings going past the +20 mark. Some are even surpassing the +30 mark now. And with triple glazing set to become more popular and more advanced in the coming years, I can’t see it being too long before A+50 is seen quite regularly.

So what needs to happen? Well, the BFRC needs to take another look at how it assigns levels of energy efficiency. You can’t have an A+ bracket that could reach into the mid-A+50s, that would look ridiculous and take away all credibility from the certification.

Is the answer creating more levels? An A++ and A+++ for example? Probably not. As energy efficiency increases, adding another plus sign to the end is again going to look a bit daft on a certificate. But there are no other letters in the alphabet, so where could the BFRC go with it?

They could go with a mix of letters and numbers. They could drop the + figure when it gets to the A band and take a different approach. For example, an A+10 could be known as 1A. The number would then increase with each factor of ten, so an A+20 could be identified as a 2A window, and so on. It would mean no daft + figures at the end. Unfortunately that is my only possible idea as the WER scheme is flawed at this point.

Should have gone with U-Values

The energy ratings certificate is a recognisable bit of print that most homeowners are familiar with, that is why at the time it was thought this was the best road to go down when energy efficiency laws for windows were tightened up. However I don’t think the whole WER certification was thought through so well from the beginning. Was no one asking the question: “what if windows go beyond A+10?” Probably not. Because if it had, they would have seen that an A+31 window or anything higher would look and read as a bit daft.

U-Values on the other hand read and look far less silly on a bit of paper, and are more accurate overall too. They may not look as sexy or not as easy to spot with every single homeowner, but it’s a unit of measurement that is going to stand the test of time, and increasing energy efficiency. And in reality, it’s not that hard to explain to a homeowner. The lower the number, the more efficient your window is. Simple.

The maths behind it is more reliable, and I think most of the industry believes in it as well. In the long run, the BFRC are going to have some head scratching when it comes to WER certificates. They can’t let an A rated window get to +40 or +50 without doing something to differentiate those and the windows in the lower end of the A band.

If you’re at the BFRC I would love to get some feedback on this post and also if you have any plans to assess future rises in energy efficiency and how you are going to band them. And as always, all comments welcome from everyone else in the section below.

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