NATIONAL REPORT—No matter what size your facility is, chances are great that it can benefit from the latest window film advancements. In fact, some window films can help generate up to 30 percent savings in heating and cooling costs. Once questioned because of stories about bubbling or fading—mostly untrue according to experts—window film today is a reliable product that can provide many benefits.
“Window film saves everybody money,” says Jeff Cohen, owner of Kustom Options, a window film installer based in Murrieta, Calif.
The first benefit is energy savings. Window film, typically installed on the inside of window glass, rejects heat, keeping rooms cooler in the summer. During winter months, it acts as an insulator, helping to keep rooms warm. Throughout the year, heating and cooling equipment does not have to work as hard and it lasts longer as a result. All types of window film block 99 percent of ultraviolet light, which reduces fading in interior spaces. This eliminates light damage to carpeting, furniture, woodwork and draperies. Window film also reduces glare and can protect employees from harmful rays that can cause skin cancer.
Window film, made of mylar, comes in different shade variations. Visible Light Transmission (VLT) ratings determine the amount of light that passes through the film. A dark film, for example may have an 18 rating, because it allows just 18 percent of visible light to pass. A film that is virtually clear may have a rating of 70.
Metalized films, which offer significant reflectivity, are priced lower ($5 to $8/square foot) than those including ceramic materials ($8 to $13 per square foot). Ceramic films can block up to 98 percent of infrared light. According to Huper Optik USA, a Houston-based maker of ceramic films, infrared light (53 percent) and visible light (44 percent) cause most heat gain in a building.
Kustom Options’ Cohen says his company uses ceramic films the majority of the time during commercial installations. Window film is typically sold by the square foot. Some high-heat-rejecting films can offer a payback of 1.5 years. The clearer the film, the less heat-rejecting it will be.
Ask About Tax Credits, Rebates
When purchasing window film, ask about rebates and tax credits. The federal government offers a tax credit for window film installation. In California, a $1.35/square foot rebate is available. Warranties on window film range from five years for exterior film to 15 years for interior. Some buildings have successfully used one application for 25 to 30 years.
How can one guarantee a successful installation? Ask that an energy analysis be conducted to identify areas where film will have the greatest benefit. An analysis will provide benchmark information that can be compared against post-installation data. Be sure to work with a licensed contractor—a company that is bonded and insured. Many window film manufacturers require that installers be certified to install their product.
“Call the manufacturer and check up on the installer,” Cohen says. “Ask for references.”
Cohen, whose company is currently working on three hotel projects, says window film has advanced to the point where it is virtually unnoticeable. That said, some hotel owners choose to install darker, more reflective film to help change the exterior look of a hotel.
“It can refresh an older complex,” he says. “Older hotels can get in a rut. It can help bring in new business and make the building more recognizable.”
What is stopping most businesses from using window film? Cohen says film is almost always an afterthought. There is also an education curve and getting over the misconceptions. With energy costs on the rise again, however, it is “clear” that window film is a smart choice for the lodging industry.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.