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Think About Window Film First

April 15, 2014 | 4 comments

Because of the benefits it offers to commercial buildings, energy-efficient window film is one of the first green investments you may want to consider – before HVAC upgrades, lighting retrofits, or new windows. The right window film can help your building save energy and reduce demand, but it may also extend the life of your facility’s furniture and furnishings, lengthen HVAC system lifecycle, reduce heating and cooling loads, improve interior comfort, and reduce the amount of artificial light needed.

To save time, resources, money, energy, and equipment wear and tear, consider installing energy-efficient window film before you …

Upgrade or Replace HVAC
All building equipment will eventually need to be replaced, but you can extend the life of an aging HVAC system by reducing loads. Before investing in HVAC upgrades or retrofits to achieve energy savings, try reducing heating and cooling loads. One way to do this is to improve the R-value of windows and reduce solar heat gain. This can keep heating and cooling systems from running as long or as often.

A recent study led by Green Generation Solutions shows the difference window film can make in reducing HVAC energy use. The Hyatt Regency Houston installed low-e window film in 48 guestrooms, using an advanced metering system to measure HVAC use in those rooms. The data was then compared to HVAC use in 48 rooms without window film.

In rooms with low-e window film, heating energy use decreased by 25% and cooling energy use decreased by 23%. HVAC runtime was also considerably reduced, and prevented the hotel from having to immediately replace its HVAC system (which had been struggling to keep up).

Retrofit or Replace Lighting Systems
Newer low-e films are spectrally selective, reduce a greater portion of infrared heat than visible light. This type of window film will allow daylight into a space while minimizing the uncomfortable heat.

If you’re using blinds and shades in your commercial building to reduce solar heat gain and control glare, you may be sacrificing natural light as well – and your need for artificial lighting may actually be greater because tenants and occupants rely on it as the only source of light in the building. Energy-efficient window film allows controlled daylight into the building while protecting interior assets, and also reconnects tenants and occupants with outdoor views.

Replace Windows
If your building’s windows suffer from moisture or air leakage, failed seals, or damaged frames (or if the windows aren’t structurally sound), then window film installation can’t fix these problems. But if windows are structurally sound and in good condition, high-performance window film is a viable alternative to window replacement in commercial buildings.

Total window replacement can offer energy savings (an average savings of almost 10% of total energy costs), but it also provides a slow return on investment due to high installation costs. A BOMA white paper indicates that retrofitting existing windows with energy-saving window film provides energy cost savings of between 4.8% and 9.9%, depending on the climate zone. For each dollar spent, window film installation provided 6.6 times greater energy cost savings than a complete window replacement.

What green initiatives are you considering first before investing in HVAC, lighting, or window upgrades?


  1. Sam
    May 2, 2014

    Austin Energy has a program called Power Savings where commercial customers can get a rebate if they install solar films or window screen solar mesh products. Quite a substantial savings for Austin, Texas commercial properties wishing to implement energy efficient cost savings on existing windows.

  2. Eric Blaise
    March 13, 2015

    Installing window film presents a lot of advantages to commercial buildings as mentioned in this article. Did you also know that aside from energy savings, and prolonging the life of your furniture, that it also provides privacy? some windows films come tinted either black, or reflective. The reflective ones are very efficient at keeping the inside of the building cool, while serving as a one sided mirror, keeping the outside world from looking in, while the dark tinted ones reduce the amount of light, and heat that pass through. both are great options that should be considered before upgrading the HVAC.

  3. Jason Strong
    March 16, 2015

    I’ve heard of people using window film before, but I honestly had no idea what it was until I read this. It’s so cool to think about how a simple design like window film can save on energy costs, and increase the life value of the buildings furniture. This is something that I think my dad would love look into for his business windows.

  4. Vista
    March 17, 2015

    Hi Eric – yes, you are correct about the privacy issues! Thanks for your feedback. We agree that upgrading HVAC should be considered after making sure that window film won’t help reduce heating and cooling loads.

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