Beat the Tampa heat and cut energy costs with window film
Window film installation should be relatively simple and take no longer than a day for a large house. (Photo courtesy of Advanced Film Solutions)
With the record heat of the past few Tampa summers driving home-cooling bills ever higher, members and highly rated window film installers say tinted window film might be an option worth considering to save money.
Angie’s List member David Smiler of Land O’Lakes, Fla., turned to highly rated West Coast Solar Concepts in Pinellas Park to apply film in his condo. “Even with the blinds closed, heat radiated into the rooms,” he says. Adding the film helped to reduce his monthly electric bill by 20 percent.
“I recovered my initial investment in just one season,” he says.
West Coast Solar Concepts owner Tom Hyatt says window film reduces most of the incoming heat and nearly all of the ultraviolet light. “It’s like adding insulation to your wall, except that you’re putting it on your window,” he says.
Michael Feldman, owner of highly rated Advanced Film Solutions, with locations in Holiday and Orlando, Fla., calls window film the fastest and most efficient way to lower electric bills. “Historically, film used to peel, bubble and turn purple,” he says. “But modern films work differently. You can get a ceramic film that’s completely clear but blocks nearly all the heat.”
Installed prices, including labor, tend to range between $3 and $5 per square foot for reflective films and $5 to $10 per square foot for ceramic films, according to Hyatt and Feldman.
Two of the biggest electrical providers in the area offer rebates for film installation. Tampa Electric offers a $2 per square foot rebate; Progress Energy rebates up to 50 percent of the cost, not to exceed to $100.
Window films also block invisible ultraviolet rays that can fade furniture and carpet, damage skin and increase skin cancer risk. The Skin Cancer Foundation, an organization of dermatologists and health educators, strongly recommends using window film to prevent skin damage.
The industry is unregulated, so Feldman suggests checking a provider’s liability insurance, labor warranty and membership in the International Window Film Association. He says film may void a window warranty, but a high-quality film should include a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty that absorbs the window warranty.
“There’s a lot of fly-by-night guys out there,” he says.
Know the numbers to help block the heat
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends window film as a cost-effective way to shield against incoming heat. The National Fenestration Rating Council certifies both windows and window film, and a close look at their label details the product’s effectiveness. Film labels include two numbers between 0 and 1: The “solar heat gain coefficient” measures heat blockage while the “visible transmittance” calculates light blockage.
The lower the number, the more heat or light the film shuts out. For radiation blockage, look for the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, which is granted to window films that protect against at least 99 percent of skin-damaging UVA and UVB radiation.