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Window Film or Window Replacement?

April 27, 2012 | 0 comments

When you’re deciding between window replacement or installing window film on existing windows in a commercial building, a number of factors may affect the choice you make.

Tenant complaints are often an early sign that your building’s windows need attention. New windows don’t always address complaints about heat or glare, and window film can’t fix leaks or moisture, so identifying the real problem will help you narrow in on the right window solution.

If the windows have air or moisture leakage, failed seals, or damaged frames (or if they aren’t structurally sound), then window film installation isn’t an option to address complaints or window problems. But if your building’s windows are structurally sound and in good condition, window film can often take care of several of the common problems associated with windows in commercial buildings.

Low e window film

A white paper on BOMA’s website shares the results of a study that was performed across all climate zones to determine whether a standard reflective window film installation offers a better ROI than low-E window replacement. Because of solar performance and lower material and installation costs ($5 to $10 per square foot for window film vs. $40 or more per square foot for new windows, according to this BUILDINGS magazine article), window film proves to be a much more cost-effective option.

While total window replacement often provides energy savings (an average savings of nearly 10% of a building’s total energy costs), it typically provides poor simple payback due to high installation costs. The study referenced in the white paper on BOMA’s website indicates that retrofitting existing windows with energy-saving window film provides energy cost savings between 4.8% and 9.9%, depending on climate zone. In this study, for each dollar available for window retrofit or replacement, window film provided 6.6 times greater energy cost savings than complete window replacement with new low-E windows.

The study also showed that the energy cost savings offered by the window film pays for itself approximately three times during the product’s 20-year lifecycle. The average payback period for low-E window replacement is just over 40 years, according to the study.

Have you had to decide between window film or window replacement? What choice did you make, and why?


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