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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Window to the world

Beauty, safety and energy savings. It’s amazing what a thin layer of window film can do for glass used in homes and buildings alike. Window film is an often overlooked means of energy efficiency and protection that combines practical function and aesthetic beauty. Many homeowners are unaware, have misconceptions of, or don’t fully understand the benefits of window film. This makes it critical for homebuilders to be educated on its advantages so that they can offer it to homeowners as a way to increase their own profits while giving buyers better efficiencies.

WHAT EXACTLY IS WINDOW FILM? 

Window film is a flexible product composed of one or more layers of coated or chemically treated polyester that can be installed on glass. It’s primarily used for retrofit applications to existing windows. There are many types of window film. Most fall into the solar control category. These films are designed to help protect a home or commercial building from the harmful effects of the sun including heat, fading and UV radiation. Other types of film include decorative, privacy and security. There are literally hundreds of options to choose from. 

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM WINDOW FILM?

Anyone from residential homeowners to commercial building owners/tenants can benefit from window film. Window film can save money on electric bills, protect people from harmful UV rays that can cause skin-related issues including cancer and they can protect valuable interiors by helping to reduce fading. 

What are some of the other benefits of window film?

  • Reduce the amount of heat that transmits through glass windows and doors;
  • Make homes and buildings more energy efficient in summer and winter;
  • Reduce glare and enhance visibility;
  • Increase privacy in the home;
  • Block up to 99 percent of harmful UV rays;
  • Help hold glass shards together if broken; and
  • Help reduce fading of flooring and furnishings. 
DOES WINDOW FILM HELP SAVE MONEY?

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that one-third of a building’s cooling load is from solar heat gain through windows, and nearly 75 percent of existing windows are not energy efficient. Professionally installed window film can reduce cooling costs by up to 30 percent. 

In the winter, the film helps retain interior heat, reducing heating costs. Many window films can qualify for “green” credits, and energy rebates helping homeowners become more energy efficient while reducing costs.

IS WINDOW FILM EASY TO MAINTAIN?

Windows with film applied are easy to clean with a soft, non-abrasive, clean cloth, paper towel or synthetic sponge. Be sure to use a standard, non-abrasive glass cleaning solution. Once the glass is cleaned, it’s important to use a soft cloth or squeegee for drying purposes. 

HOW LONG WILL THE FILM LAST?

The effective life of window film will vary by the type of film, the type of glass, window construction, and environmental and climate conditions. However, most solar control films are warranted for residential use for as long as the homeowner owns the property. Commercial warranties vary, but standard interior applications usually carry a minimum of a 10-year warranty. Check with each manufacturer for the specific warranty terms for each product they offer. 

WILL THE FILM HELP PROTECT FURNISHINGS?

Nothing can eliminate fading completely. However, window film can significantly slow the effects of heat and UV that are main causes of fading of flooring, fabrics and furnishings. And, contrary to popular belief, installing window film will not kill house plants. Although plants may initially need time to adjust to the light change, they should resume regular growth after a few days. 

While architects, consultants and remodelers can use window film in retrofit applications on existing glass, it should also be high on the list of enhancements for new homebuilders. Builders can use standard windows and install window film to improve their performance.

Greater efficiency. More comfort. A possible energy rebate for the homeowner. Potentially more profits for the home builder. Combining all of those benefits makes window film a wise investment.