By Darrell Smith, Executive Director, (IWFA)
Saving energy doesn’t always make sense to a power supplier, especially when they are in business to ‘sell power’. But, when demand exceeds their capacity causing them to purchase power on the open market or have to operate less efficient capacity – then the incentive to reduce consumption is a lot clearer.
So, the idea that layered polyester installed on windows can make a significant difference on energy consumption certainly commands attention. And in a state like California, where heat waves and energy demand is always a balancing act – a product that can cost-effectively cut energy use is worth consideration.
Window film is made from extruded polyester that can include multiple layers that offer a wide variety of performance. Window film now has been engineered using today’s advanced technology to deliver energy savings similar to low-e windows, yet at a fraction of what replacement windows cost. It may knockdown cooling costs in a range that reaches into the double digits.
In California, there are nearly 9,000,000 dwellings built prior to the energy building codes. By professionally installing window film on just 900,000 dwellings or 10 percent, energy consulting firm, ConSol, conservatively estimates window film may cut a typical dwelling’s annual energy use by 10 percent. Taken together this could add up to 7,150,250,000-kilowatt hours. The savings is comparable to what three power plants could produce annually, or the conversion equivalent of 4,000,000 barrels of oil, according to ConSol.
In other words, if window film were retrofitted on a tenth of older dwellings in the Golden State, it is possible to reduce power demand to the point that three 500 megawatt power stations could be put held in reserve in the power hungry state.
In fact the California Energy Commission is doing more than looking at window film, the state has now included it in the latest energy or building code that will be effective in 2014. The forward-looking state is the first in the nation to take this practical step.
“We need to continually look for smart, cost-effective ways to save energy and reduce peak electricity load,” said Commissioner Andrew McAllister of the California Energy Commission. “Window film is a product that needs to be considered as an important retrofit solution as we upgrade legacy dwellings in the Golden State,” he added.
Research by ConSol has shown that window film is a viable solution to cost-effectively reduce Green House Gases (GHG) and California leads the way. The opportunity for achieving the state’s energy goals may be closer when window film is factored in.
Among the items the new building code for window film requires is a National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) certification label, manufacturer’s name, a 10-year warranty certificate, and compliance with the IWFA’s Visual Quality Standards. Although window films are normally used on existing windows, remodelers and contractors can also use the new building code for additional guidance.
Independent analysis conducted by ConSol reported that window film is one of the most cost-effective measures to reduce energy use in California. In fact, windowfilm outpaces traditional techniques such as updating HVAC systems, air sealing and caulking or adding R-38 ceiling insulation. ConSol’s study used many of the same processes the California Energy Commission utilizes in determining relative value of energy savings for the state. The complete report can be found at http://www.iwfa.com/ConsumerInfo/CAEnergySavingsStudy.aspx.