Window tints are optical grade polyester sheeting with colored dye and/or metal particles embedded into its surface.
For years, homeowners have applied the film to their glass to add privacy and security to bare windows in a modern setting, and to keep expensive furnishings from fading.
But as our energy conservation needs grown, consumers find the film to be a fairly inexpensive way to add or block heat and greatly reduce their electricity bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an estimated $30 billion or more of energy is lost per year through single pane windows and an average home loses 25-40% of energy through windows.
Window film can greatly reduce the transmission of solar heat and ultraviolet rays through a pane of glass, getting rid of glare at the same time (especially with the frosted or fluorescent styles). Even for renters, the film can be a good option for creating a more comfortable nest while going greener.
Among good products on the market is Energy Film, available at Home Depot under the Artscape brand, and at other retail locations. Some handy homeowners like to install the film themselves, measuring the material and using utility knife and straight edge to cut the film to fit smaller or specialty-shaped windows.
Energy Film is made of a spectrally-selective material that blocks 70% of thermal solar energy in summer and reduces heat loss through windows in winter. The company says the product blocks 97% of UV light while still allowing 77% of natural light into the room.
Energy Film is also known to have excellent visual clarity. I also like that the company partners with Habitat for Humanity on projects, saying it shares the goal of providing affordable materials for the country’s housing needs.
Another product sold nationwide by dealers is Solar Gard, made by Bekaert Specialty Films in San Diego. Solar Gard films are sputter-coated with durable, exotic metals such as titanium, stainless steel, copper, gold, silver, aluminum and other alloys.
The company says the varying mixes of metals are what gives Solar Guard its exceptional solar performance capabilities and color. This film is professionally installed and comes in a wide range of products for residential and commercial use in varied climates (hot sun, ski lodges, etc).
One other option is to install solar screens or shades on your windows. Modern solar screens are made either of fiberglass or high tech fabrics and stop heat before it reaches the window, reducing as much as 90 percent of solar emissions. They are usually installed on west-, south- and east-facing windows. The sheer weave options look like Roman shades.
You can locate installers and dealers in most cities, or online at Blinds Galore and other sites. Some, such as Austin, Texas, offer a rebate of one dollar per square foot for the energy savings the screens provide. Check with your city and local electricity provider to see if they have a similar program.
According to eHow, some experts recommend removing the screens in the wintertime on the west and south sides of the home. But since they have an insulating function, many homeowners choose to leave them on all year. You want to select screens that are easy to detach and carry.