How the Window Film Industry Got the Attention it Deserves in California

June 20, 2014
The window film industry wasn’t getting the attention it deserved in California–until a window film organization decided to play in the state’s ballpark.

Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association, was determined to find out why the state of California wasn’t taking window film more seriously as an effective way to cut energy use.

The utilities understood the power of window film, but the product wasn’t identified along with other efficiency measures in state-mandated efficiency programs, he says.

The organization hired a consultant, ConSol, to evaluate window film using the same software programs the state uses to evaluate efficiency measures.

That investment paid off for both window film companies and California homeowners.

The study found that window film is one of the most cost-effective ways of cutting energy use in California, and is more effective than traditional techniques, including updating HVAC systems, air sealing, caulking, or adding ceiling insulation. Generally window film installed in older buildings can reduce energy use by 10 percent, the study found.

The report can be found at Study of Window Film in California

Armed with this report, Smith met with the California Energy Commission and made its case for including window film in the building code, which was in the midst of being re-written.

In the past, Smith’s organization had met with politicians. In this case, Smith and his team met with the “worker bees,” people who would better understand what the window film organization was trying to achieve, he says.

“We met with the worker bees who actually put the programs in place, the people who implement the programs.”

The result of the meeting: The commission decided to include window film in its rewrite of the building code–a rewrite that became effective in 2014.

“We need to continually look for smart, cost-effective ways to save energy and reduce peak electricity load,” said Commissioner Andrew McAllister in a press release. “Window film is a product that needs to be considered as an important retrofit solution as we upgrade legacy dwellings in the Golden State.”

Smith’s advice for others seeking to have their products included in state efficiency programs: Hire a consultant and gather data that speaks the state’s language.

“The key is to understand how the state is evaluating efficiency measures and get yours evaluated,” he says. “You have to use their ways of measuring, so they can make comparisons. Find a way to be allowed to play in their ballpark.”

Window film is more cost-effective than replacing old windows to prevent energy loss through the windows, says Smith. A full replacement window costs $250 to $500. Window film is $60 to $125 a window, and achieves 90% of the efficiency. In addition, using film means that homeowners don’t have to build a new window or hassle with disposing of old windows.

Window film is now better positioned to do its job of saving energy in California. Are there any other providers of under-rated or unheard-of efficiency measures that need to be recognized by regulators? You need to step up and play in the right ball park.

About the Author

Lisa Cohn | Contributing Editor

I focus on the West Coast and Midwest. Email me at [email protected]

I’ve been writing about energy for more than 20 years, and my stories have appeared in EnergyBiz, SNL Financial, Mother Earth News, Natural Home Magazine, Horizon Air Magazine, Oregon Business, Open Spaces, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, Renewable Energy World, Windpower Monthly and other publications. I’m also a former stringer for the Platts/McGraw-Hill energy publications. I began my career covering energy and environment for The Cape Cod Times, where Elisa Wood also was a reporter. I’ve received numerous writing awards from national, regional and local organizations, including Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Willamette Writers, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Voice of Youth Advocates. I first became interested in energy as a student at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where I helped design and build a solar house.

Twitter: @LisaECohn

Linkedin: LisaEllenCohn

Facebook: Energy Efficiency Markets