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How windows can make you money

How windows can make you money

Monday, 2 September 2013: Skyrocketing electricity prices have prompted many of us to try to save energy in the home. We’re told to turn off appliances, change light bulbs and take shorter showers. To make a greater, lasting dent in electricity bills, we need only turn to our windows.

Giving us light, air and a connection with the outside, glass is the golden child of modern architecture. Yet studies show that as much as 87% of heat entering a typical home is through windows, and up to 40% of a typical home's energy can be lost through the incorrect use of windows.

Applying a window film coating to existing glass enables you to get the most out of your windows without compromising your home’s efficiency. In fact, the savings made on reduced bills means film often pays for itself within the first three years after installation.

President of the Window Film Association of Australia and New Zealand (WFAANZ), Michael Miller, comments, “Long term energy saving solutions don’t have to cost the earth. Retrofitting window film to your existing windows is a clever, easy and environmentally-friendly way to boost your home’s efficiency.

“Australian case studies show that air conditioning usage has been reduced by as much as 30% after the application of window film,” Michael continues, “…with advances in film technology the benefits of film can be compared to those offered by new, high performing and often expensive windows.”

Low E (low emissivity) is the buzz phrase of the window industry. On cold days, Low E windows reduce the flow of radiant heat from the warmer side of a window (inside the room) to the cooler side (outdoors). Low E films have been developed that use these same principals to transform a regular window into a high performing unit.

As well as controlling heat in summer, Low E coatings improve the window insulating properties of glass to offset the loss of free solar heat during winter, so providing both cooling and heating savings for mixed climate dwellings.

Michael Miller says, “New Low E films work year round – so you don’t only need energy-sucking AC units, heaters or fans to stay comfortable. Plus, you’re not throwing your old window into landfill.”

But if Low E films prevent heat escaping in winter, isn’t that going to make it hotter in summer? This is not the case, as the film preventing the heat entering the glass in summer outweighs the effect of the heat retention, and vice versa. This is evidenced by the fact that some Low E films have attained a star rating for heating and cooling through the independent Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) for Film.

WERS for Film tests a film’s potential energy impact on a home, using a star rating system like the energy star stickers we see on whitegoods.

Many installers across the country have attained WERS For Film accreditation, making it easier to find an installer trained to give the best advice and service. Once the film is applied these installers issue an energy certificate. The Building Code of Australia now requires all new housing to have a minimum six star rating. A WERS For Film certificate will go towards that rating and in most cases increase the selling price and saleability of your property. 

The HIA has thrown its support behind WERS, recommending its members use WERS certified products for assurance of energy claims[1].

Michael advises, “For the best advice, find a professional window film installer who has been accredited in WERS For Film.”

Modern films come in a variety of shades, colours and performance levels, so windows don’t have to be darker to be protected. Film is easily installed to the interior glass surface, in less than an hour a professional installer can apply film to one standard window. Film manufacturers provide up to 10-15 year warranties on non-residential films and often lifetime warranties on residential applications.

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