A study published by the nonprofit International Window Film Association (IWFA) shows professionally installed solar control window film is the most cost-effective answer for Florida residents when compared to other energy saving home improvements initiatives, such as upgrading insulation, air sealing, or installing new air conditioning or heat pumps.
This new report comes at a time when Federal studies reveal that Florida residents spend 40 percent more than their U.S. counterparts on their electric bills and use more than four times the national average for air conditioning to stay cool in the sunshine state, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“From a Florida consumer perspective, this new report confirms that solar control window films are a smart investment to reduce their utility costs,” said Darrell Smith, executive director of the IWFA. “Window film can reduce energy consumption by reducing solar heat gain and cut cooling costs by as much as 30 percent, while at the same time allowing in natural light without the negative impact of harsh glare and potentially dangerous UV exposure,” said Smith.
Conducted by energy consulting firm ConSol, the methodology for the report utilized the Florida Department of Community Affairs Energy Code approved software for demonstrating energy code compliance. The research report compared the energy efficiency of internal and external window films for existing homes in the climate zones of Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa and Jacksonville to:
- Adding insulation to the attic
- Replacing air conditioning equipment with a more efficient new unit
- Replacing heating equipment with a more efficient new unit (heat pump)
- Air Sealing – sealing gaps in building envelope (walls, doors, around windows, etc.)
- The study shows that internal and external window films save more energy per dollar spent than typical retrofit features. From a state energy policy perspective window films are more effective than ceiling insulation, replacing mechanical equipment and air sealing in all four Florida cities analyzed.
Solar control window films can block anywhere up to 84 percent of the solar energy that would normally enter through windows. Window films have additional consumer benefits that include: blocking ultra-violet (UV) rays, a major contributor of fading rugs, draperies and artwork; protecting occupants skin from UV exposure; and, reducing hot spots in homes caused by solar energy entering through windows.
Window films may also offer the fastest way for Florida to reduce its overall energy use as most of its 9,000,000 dwelling units were built before 1989. In fact, fewer than 25 percent of the state’s homes have double or triple pane window glazing (compared with almost 60 percent for the U.S. average) and 86 percent of homes rely on central air conditioning to stay comfortable.
The effectiveness of solar control window films increases as the cooling degree-days increase (i.e.; the further south in Florida the more cost-effective window films become). Window films reduce energy (kWh) two to four times more cost-effectively than installing R-38 ceiling insulation over the existing R-30 ceiling insulation. Window films are eight to 15 times more cost-effective than reducing the air infiltration of homes. Window films are three times more cost effective than replacing the air conditioner. The complete report can be seen at www.iwfa.com.