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March 30th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs

What is Window Film?

By Manny Hondroulis

We all know the features and benefits of window film, but does the average person know them? Of course not. Ignorance is a huge problem for our industry—a problem that our collective group of industry members has not been able to overcome in nearly 60 years. A lack of market awareness and installation labor seem to run neck-and-neck as the biggest challenge to scaling our industry.

“What Do You Do?”

When you meet someone for the first time in a social capacity, invariably, the first question asked of the other person after learning their name is to inquire about their profession. How do you answer that question when it is asked of you? Perhaps you reply, “I sell and install window film.”

What are the odds that the recipient understands what you just said? Probably not too high. You may have just wasted the opportunity to educate someone about film. And so the 60-year-old cycle of low consumer awareness continues.

I’ve often thought about that wasted chance and tried to find a better answer. Whether or not it’s better remains to be seen and is a matter of personal opinion. But I answer the question by saying, “I address the inefficiencies and vulnerabilities of glass.”

I’ve found that my response leads to a deeper discussion that allows me to educate the other person, making them ponder whether or not they have a problem to which film may offer a solution.

So, what does it mean to tell someone that windows are inefficient and vulnerable? And why don’t they already know that? Let’s start by answering the second question first.

The truth is that people generally don’t challenge what has always been a part of their lives. Windows are always present in a building, unless that building is a prison or similar structure. Given the constant of glazing, people generally don’t challenge their existence and give little thought about their limitations (inefficiencies and vulnerabilities).

Inefficient and Vulnerable

What do I mean when I say that window glass is inefficient and vulnerable?

First, windows are inefficient. They are typically the most energy-inefficient part of a building’s envelope. They are far more likely to allow unwanted heat gain and loss than surrounding building materials such as brick, siding, wood, stucco, stone and concrete. I’ve heard an industry statistic from the US Department of Energy (DOE) that the energy used to offset unwanted heat gains and losses through windows in residential and commercial buildings costs $20 billion annually. Also, according to the DOE, windows are responsible for as much as 30% of the total heating and cooling loads in residential buildings.

Second, windows are vulnerable. They typically are the weakest part of a building’s envelope. Glass is much weaker than brick, wood, stucco, stone, concrete and many other building materials. After all, burglars typically break through a window and not the nearby brick wall when attempting to enter a home.

Given the drawbacks of windows, why do we have them in nearly all buildings? The answer is clear. In fact, the answer is as clear as glass itself. Windows exist because people crave daylight and a connection to the outside world.

Studies show that we function better and are happier when exposed to daylight. People also want a connection to the outside when they’re indoors to see a view of an ocean, park, skyline, mountain or perhaps to know what’s happening outside. And the only way to achieve this end is to have windows.

We pay a financial price every month to the local utility company so that we have windows. That price is to operate our heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to eliminate unwanted heat gains and losses. Even what are called efficient windows contribute to unwanted heat gains and losses.

We also pay a price concerning our safety, property and continuity of operations to have windows. It is easy for outside dangers to come into our homes and offices through vulnerable windows. Those outside dangers threaten our safety, property and the ability to live our lives.

The Constant

The average consumer is not aware of a window’s inefficiencies or vulnerabilities. That’s because the average person never thinks to challenge something constant. And what is constant is that homes and offices have windows. Consumers are unaware of a window’s limitations until a window’s inefficiency or vulnerability is exposed. As stewards of the window film industry, it is our responsibility to educate consumers about the problems windows pose.

It is also our responsibility to show how window film can help prevent problems—sun control or insulating films to help address a window’s inefficiency and security film to help address a window’s vulnerability.

Manny Hondroulis is the vice president of Energy Distribution Products in Baltimore.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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