With interest in green building and utility rebates on the rise, builders and remodelers are looking at solar-controlling window films as a cost-effective solution for boosting home efficiencies and reducing costs for clients while lifting sales and profits for themselves. Applied to the window, transparent film acts as a solar shield, blocking up to 80% of the sun’s heat, according to the International Window Film Association. “The biggest trend I’ve noticed over the past few years is that people put more and more glass into a home,” . “Solar control is the payback. [With window films,] in three years you’re going to get your money back and if you buy a good quality product from a reputable dealer, it will last you 20, 25 years. It’s really a bang for the buck.”
Nevertheless, lack of awareness, misperceptions, and the small additional cost are impeding the category’s growth, installers say. Here are some of the product’s pros and cons.
- Window film can cut utility costs by 30% to 40%, says California-based consultant Donna Wells, and at $6 to $14 per square foot, it’s much cheaper than replacing windows.
- Solar films block 99% of UV light that fades furniture, and with better technologies, now do it without looking reflective or dark.
- Films add security, slowing down a break in and holding shards together if the window shatters.
- Some state and utility programs offer rebates for window films.
- While mainly a retrofit product, some films can make a low-cost new window as efficient as a low-E, triple-pane unit, says Wells.
- Some window manufacturers warn that films will void their window warranty; however, several film manufacturers offer to match it.
- Certain lites, latches, and frames make installation difficult, and a bad application can leave glass looking bubbly.
- Most homeowners are skeptical of the benefits, making film a hard sell that requires education.
- Installers say some film brands are better than others, so buyers should look for NFRC