Good Morning America Showcases Damage Caused by Energy Efficient Windows

On the September 30, 2010 broadcast of “Good Morning America,” Elisabeth Leamy reported on the phenomenon of solar reflection and heat distortion from multi-pane low-E windows. It was accurately described as mimicking the effect of a magnifying glass—collecting the sun’s rays, but reflecting those rays as a concentrated beam that artificially intensifies the heat in excess of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The story showed how a variety of materials can be damaged, and accurately attributed responsibility for the damage to the design of multiple-pane windows.

As Ms. Leamy’s story pointed out, vinyl siding is not the only surface or product that can be damaged by this concentrated beam.

We want to assure homeowners, building code officials and the public at-large of three things:

1.  This is a very infrequent phenomenon that occurs in a unique set of circumstances which are detailed in a third-party report published by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB);

2.  Despite the unnaturally high temperatures generated by the solar reflection off multi-pane low-E windows, these temperatures do not create a fire hazard when they reflect onto vinyl siding. Vinyl siding is not at risk to combust until temperatures exceed 750 degrees F. While heat generated from solar reflection can reach the temperature of boiling water, it has not been measured in excess of 250 degrees; and

3.  Damage is being done to our product and not caused by our product. Vinyl siding is manufactured to withstand all kinds of natural phenomena, including the hottest day of the hottest summer. In these infrequent cases, the energy from the sun is being artificially concentrated by the windows to create temperatures well above those that occur naturally.

As an industry, we cannot address solar reflection and heat distortion damage until its cause is eliminated. According to Ms. Leamy’s report, the “window and door association says it’s studying the phenomenon.” In the interim, we’ve heard from homeowners working with neighbors that window screens are sufficient to break up the intensity of the reflection. Other recommendations were put forth in the NAHB report.

To watch the broadcast segment in its entirety, click here.