Window Film Gets the Recognition It Deserves for Saving Energy

This window film meets California's energy standards California now recognizes window film as an energy-efficient building material. Image: Solutia’s Performance Films division

You may not need to do that window retrofit. A new California building code underscores the benefits of using ever-so-humble window film.

Faced with the second-highest total energy usage in the country (Texas is first), California has become the first state to recognize window film as bona fide energy-efficient building materials.

By adding them to its state building codes, California will require window films to meet certain criteria, similar to windows and roofing. Window films must:

  • Include the manufacturer’s name
  • Have a 10-year warranty

The new codes take effect in January 2014.

If you don’t know much about window films, they’re worth checking out. Different types can:

  • Reduce glare
  • Cut UV exposure (preventing your fabrics from fading)

They’re relatively inexpensive, running $1.50 to $8 per square foot, and they’re a good DIY project.

And they save energy. Some reduce radiant heat transfer through glass by as much as 50%, making them good choices for colder climes. Others block sunlight — great for west-facing windows and homes in sunny regions, such as the Southwest.

Window films are smart for retrofitting, too. Instead of swapping out older windows for new ones at $700 a pop, you can install a top-of-the-line film (and maybe a little weatherstripping) on your existing windows and get virtually the same benefits for $150.

Plus, you’ll help reduce waste when you keep used building materials (those older windows) out of the landfill.

So which would you rather have? New replacement windows or window films?