Think about it: among the three natural elements that abound in our daily home life—air, water and sunlight—it’s common practice to filter air and water, but not sunlight. “Yet of the three, sunlight can be the most harmful,” says Darin Martin, Jr. of Clear View Window Tinting, a Charlottesville-based firm. He says that sunlight, left unchecked, can do all kinds of damage.
Unfiltered sunlight wreaks havoc on both your interiors and your energy bills. Hardwood floors left exposed to unfiltered sunlight can begin to show significant damage in a matter of months. Furniture, photographs and artwork can also be damaged over time by direct sunlight. During the summer months, the warm rays of the sun, so welcome in the cooler months, can trap significant heat in your home, taxing your cooling system and increasing your energy bills. Window treatments such as blinds and drapes can work to soften a room, improve acoustics and offer privacy, but they are not the optimal tool for blocking sunlight. They reduce some heat when closed, but there is often still a gap between the window and the blind, allowing some heat gain around the window. Furthermore, when your window treatments are shut, they block the view as well as any natural light coming in—almost defeating the purpose of having windows in the first place!
This is where the practice of window tinting comes in handy. Once a strictly commercial application, window tinting has moved into the residential sector. Today’s trends of daylighting are reflected in homes being built with not just more but larger windows, to harvest natural light and passive solar energy for heating. Filtering this light by tinting the windows in your home can protect your furnishings, and reduce glare and your energy bills—particularly your cooling bills—while still allowing abundant natural light. Clear View Window Tinting is one company that installs custom window tinting for homeowners—which essentially means placing a film on the interior of a window that filters ultraviolet rays entering your home through the glass.
Window tinting comes in a variety of shades. Having shading choices is important because the way homeowners perceive natural light is subjective, says Martin. The orientation of the windows in question, as well as the type of room containing the windows you are tinting, are other factors to consider when determining which product is best for your home. For example, living spaces such as dens, kitchens and great rooms are more likely than bedrooms to be sited toward capturing natural light and passive solar energy. Windows oriented south and west not only capture more sunlight than windows oriented north and east, but they capture it longer and at the time of day when the light is warmer. During warmer months with their longer days, eastern-facing windows can receive their fair share of warm rays, but their exposure is more seasonal, not year round.
An initial consultation with window tinting experts takes all these factors into account. For example, Martin’s firm brings samples of their products to your home to help determine which one suits you best. By applying these samples to your windows, as well as sharing images of completed installations, homeowners receive a full view of what to expect when their project is completed. Ask if you can leave samples on your windows for a few days to see first hand how the film appears during different times of day as well as in different types of weather. For a completed project, expect to pay about $10 – $14 per square foot.
Once installed, window tinting is indiscernible. In fact, Martin says that the applied treatment will actually sharpen the view from your window, because in blocking harmful ultraviolet rays, light is filtered and clarified so that it resembles the light from a soft white incandescent bulb. The wash out typically associated with the sun’s brightest light is softened and the harsh glare is cut, making the use of blinds or curtains during the day practically obsolete. With reflectivity that is lower than glass alone, tinted windows provide views from inside your home that remain the same, day and night. From the exterior, your windows will appear uniform, emulating clear glass regardless of the interior window treatment. Furthermore, when window tinting is utilized, it allows you to leave your window treatments open, making a home brighter and more open as well as welcoming to all who enter.
In addition to softening the light coming into your home, window tinting can decrease your energy bills. Up to 50 percent of summer’s heat is felt through direct sunlight. That light, pouring in through your windows, gets trapped in your home, taxing your cooling system during the hottest part of the day. Experts say that by tinting your windows, harmful ultraviolet rays are reduced by 99.9 percent, while also rejecting 79 percent of the sun’s heat. While it could take up to six months to recoup your investment in window tinting in your cooling bills, Martin says there is “an instantaneous return in comfort.”
Even if sunlight is not the first thing you think of filtering in your home, it’s an important consideration. In addition to protecting what’s inside your home, window tinting helps keep things comfortable—for yourself and your wallet. It also preserves the view that no doubt attracted you to your home in the first place. And that is priceless.