5 On Your Side

NC council holds hearing on problems with energy-efficient windows

Posted September 9, 2014 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 9, 2014 7:17 p.m. EDT

— Tuesday marked another round in the battle over energy-efficient windows that melt siding and cars, leaving homeowners with expensive repairs.

The North Carolina Building Code Council held a public hearing Tuesday about the concerns. The council has debated problems with low-emissivity windows for more than a year.

After 5 On Your Side’s story in May prompted concerns about safety, the council got a temporary order allowing builders to not use the windows where there might be a problem.

On Tuesday, the council voted to keep the temporary rule in place. The next step will be to create a task force that will come up with a permanent rule change in December.

Problems have been reported across the country. When sun reflects off the specially coated low-e windows, it can melt siding on homes and trash cans and cause paint on cars to bubble.

The reflection melted part of Michelle Curtis’s SUV while it was parked outside her Apex home. In Knightdale, home after home had melted and warped vinyl siding due to the windows.

The building code council says a simple solution is to allow builders to use non-low-e windows where they see a potential problem. North Carolina Home Builders Association representative Robert Privott agrees.

“For the ones that need relief, they do see this as something that gives them some options,” he said.

Energy efficiency experts argue the rule is too broad and that using any regular windows would ultimately raise a home's energy costs. Privott says he doesn't buy that.

“Do I think builders in North Carolina are going to go out and buy non-low-e windows to install in all of these homes and go out and completely replace the windows? I don't see that happening,” he said.

Jeff Inks, spokesman for the National Window and Door Manufacturers Association, blames the problems on vinyl siding.

“There are many factors involved, and all those factors need to be considered,” he said. "People are pointing the finger at windows, but windows in some cases are only a factor and never are they the sole cause."

As for cars melting, Inks says that’s “a very far-fetched claim.”

That claim is not far-fetched to Curtis, who says she and other homeowners are caught in the middle with melting homes and cars.