Save Money, Stay Cool
5 Summer Energy Savers
How much can window films save you on your utility bill? A friend claims that they really cut down her bills. Isn't it really expensive to buy?
We had window film professionally installed almost 20 years ago and I think it was an excellent investment. Our house faces east/west and there are no windows on the north/south walls of the house. As a result, we get heavy late afternoon sun, which is tolerable when we close blinds/draperies and use our ceiling fans. If we did not have the window film in addition, we would suffocate in the upstairs of our house. I don't know whether there is a difference having the film professionally installed versus DIY.
Be forewarned, however, that some window companies revoke your warranty when you apply a film. We have Anderson windows, which started getting a little fuzzy in the corners of the thermal panes (could be related to the age of the window), and when we contacted them to ask about it, their first question was whether film was applied.
Window films help keep the sun out when it is shining in during the summer and reduce the radiant heat allowing you to saving on cooling costs. They also help protect your fabrics and woods by decreasing the bleaching effects of the sun on your furniture and floors. The films are a little expensive, but once they are placed, they last for years if cared for correctly. You cannot use ammonia on them, so just use a dilute soap and water solution when cleaning them. They are also easy to put up if you have a sharp razor knife. Cut the film within 1/8 inch of the edge the window.
The initial investment in window film isn't really cheap, but it will pay for itself the first year. We noticed about 5% drop in our cooling bills. We were more comfortable a few degrees lower, as less escaped.
It isn't like replacing windows, but it really helps! Consider how a car feels in summer with tinted windows and then get into one that doesn't have them. There's a big difference in how they feel right off, and how quickly they cool later.
Last year, I purchased window film from Lowe's to put on a bedroom window that faces east (and gets a lot of direct morning sun). Before purchasing the window film, the bedroom frequently would get very warm in the summer, even though the shades were drawn and the curtains closed. Although I did not track any particular savings (we'd just moved into the house), I can tell you my experiences in the window film.
Now, for installing the window film:
Hanging window film can lower the temperature of a room, save fabric from discoloration, and may offer some privacy. However, it must be installed correctly to do so.
Yes, it is immediately effective used on a window the sun hits. While the sun is shining on the glass, you can hold your hand over the covered glass and the uncovered glass and notice the difference. Your electric bills will also go down, due to less cooling required in the home, and your home will be more comfortable. (We are in sunny, hot California.)
I think it's about $25 a roll from what I remember. However, I've used two different kinds over the years (in different homes) and I must warn you not to get the one that is similar to very thin aluminum foil. It comes in a long rectangular box, all rolled up, just like aluminum foil, and one side is adhesive. It is absolutely a nightmare to put up. It folds in on itself quite easily and sticks and cannot be undone. When you are trying to put up a sheet of this stuff that is four or five feet wide and keep it smooth on the window, it is just horrendous. Ours is up, but there are creases, and I used about twice what was needed, due to the folding in on itself problem! Once it's on the glass, it is like cement and never moves so you must get it right.
I have used a second kind, but I couldn't find it in this town. It is thicker and goes on so easily! One sprays the glass with water (using a spray bottle) and spreads the sheet on and it stays. If it needs moving around, it's so simple. Just pull it off and do it again. It's very dark. You may think it will be too dark to see through, but it's not. You barely notice it's there. (I think Wal-Mart has it.)
I couldn't find the second type when I was ready this time, and bought the first type. Never, never again! I even wrote to the company and complained! After I went through the agony, someone told me Wal-Mart sells the second type.
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