Roughly two out of three U.S. homes are poorly insulated or have no insulation. Nine out of 10 attics in the U.S. are not properly ventilated, which can result in ice damming and premature roof failure.

Meanwhile a 2009 survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration released in March found that 58% of U.S. homes have energy-efficient multi-pane windows, compared with 36% in 1993.

If you're in the window replacement business, you've obviously done a great job claiming market share. Of course what that also means is that many homeowners looking for the comfort and savings that come with energy efficiency already have the window part in place. So where to go from here?

For window dealers, energy retrofits — air sealing, insulation, radiant barrier, upgraded HVAC, as well as green (residential) roofing and even solar — represent potential new business. If you're thinking about getting into that business, be aware that there are several challenges to resolve before you can profitably add this component to your product/service menu.

First, if you're a one-call close company, how will you “read” the home in a way that suggests appropriate improvements and then sell those improvements on the same visit? If a window sales call already lasts two to three hours, how do you squeeze a blower door test in there and still put your price on the table? — especially when homeowners have less patience with long sales calls.

The second challenge is profitability. An air sealing or insulation job is more labor-intensive and may represent a lower average job cost ($2,500 to $5,000) than your business model can accommodate. And the way some companies have resolved those challenges is by going to a two-step close, putting individual improvements into a package with a financing option to generate a higher job cost, and/or separating their energy business from windows and siding — including having a separate salesforce.

Lots of companies that sell insulation, HVAC, or home performance are active in the energy retrofit market. What replacement contractors have that those types of companies generally don't is the ability to not only meet demand but to create it.

Which is why three out of every five houses have multi-pane windows. And those houses — average age 32 years — aren't getting any younger.

Jim, Cory, Editor