Volume 11, Issue 2 - March 2010


Is Energy-Efficiency Worth It?
One Dealer Doesn’t Seem to Think So
by Penny Stacey

When my husband and I first purchased our home in July 2008, we quickly started a list of home-improvement projects. At the top of that list was replacing the front entry door, which appears to be a simple builder-grade door. And, what is worse than that to us is that it contains a large amount of glass. While it’s very aesthetically pleasing, we both were concerned about the possibility of onlookers being able to see directly into our house at night from the street. Secondly, if you stand by the door in the midst of winter, you can detect an obvious draft; and in the summer, the same spot makes our AC work extra-hard.

So, on the morning of January 28, I set out early to visit Pro Build, a building supply company that sells both doors and windows.

As I walked in, I noticed that the person at the front desk was on a phone call, so I began wandering around the showroom. When several minutes had passed and it didn’t seem like I was going to be getting any help anytime soon, I approached another gentleman at a desk across the way, and asked for some help locating a new entry door.

Without standing, he pointed across the way and said, “You’ll need to speak to Mark over there.”

I said, “The one on the phone?” and again, without standing to check, he responded, “Maybe—the one with the gray hair.”

Assuming he must have meant the guy on the phone, I wandered back toward the person who must have been “Mark,” and began to wait. As I waited, I observed several items about the phone call; first, I was shocked to hear him curse. Second, I also quickly realized it was a personal call—they were discussing his upcoming vacation, how long the drive would take, etc. Honestly, at this point, I was starting to get a bit perturbed. Right around that time, he hung up and offered to help me.

The Product Search
I explained that I was looking for a new entry door—one that was energy-efficient and didn’t have so much glass in it. He walked me briefly around the showroom, pointed out a few things hurriedly, and told me steel would be my cheapest bet, and fiberglass would be the most energy-efficient bet. He gave me a brochure about Therma-Tru’s fiberglass doors, and, though he was pushing steel, didn’t have any brochures to offer containing those. He handed me a catalog and told me I could look through it while I stood there, but couldn’t take it.

Though I’d mentioned early on that I was seeking energy-efficiency, the gentleman had continued to push cost over efficiency. Finally, I asked, “What about those tax credits I hear about all the time? Is there a door I can get that would qualify?”

“Um, I think you’d have to spend as much extra on the door to get the tax credit as you would actually get back,” he said.

“But it wouldn’t save me money on my power bill?” I asked.

“Yeah, I guess it would do that,” Mark replied, before turning to another gentleman and asking if he knew anything about the tax credits.

The other gentleman, who I believe was actually a customer and not a fellow Pro Build employee, advised, “I don’t know—there’s Energy Star®, there’s the tax credit—I don’t know if they match up.”

At that point, Mark called Therma-Tru and inquired about this for me, and they advised him to go to the Therma-Tru website and take a look at the list of the doors that would qualify there; he passed the same advice on to me.

“I don’t know if there will be any steel doors in that category,” he said, “and there definitely won’t be any decorative glass in those doors, but you said you didn’t want that anyway.”

I then asked how I would get a price on some of the doors I’d seen in the catalog he’d handed me.

“Oh, just give me a call and I can get you a quote, but I’m going on vacation, so you’ll need to talk to someone else,” he advised, and handed me a business card for his co-worker.

I took the fiberglass door brochures on my way, along with some notes on some of the steel doors. Though I’ve yet to make a purchase, I’d say the overall experience was somewhat helpful, somewhat confusing. Though I really dislike it when I call a business looking for a quote on something and they want all my information (name, phone number, etc.) it did surprise me that this facility seemed to be pretty disinterested in making a sale, as they not only sent me away with little information, but didn’t take any of my details either. Likewise, Mark failed to even offer a quote on any of the doors, hoping I’d call back later to speak to someone else.

I’ll probably go back, because I do need a door and he did seem genuinely interested in helping me to save money, but I’ll make sure it’s not on a day this particular gentleman is leaving for vacation.

Penny Stacey is the assistant editor of DWM/Shelter magazine.


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