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Sunblock Or Not

I don’t want to install permanent tinted window film because I want the passive solar heat gain during the winter, but I need to block the sun’s heat, glare, and carpet fading. I still want a good view outdoors. What simple-to-install, low-cost options do I have?—Meg F.

Although installing permanent insulating window film is one of the most effective and attractive sun-control methods, you might prefer using reusable film. You unroll the film and install it against the glass during the summer and remove and store it away during the winter. With proper care, it can be reused for years.

Most reusable window films are made of a thin vinyl similar to the removable film labels on new television screens. They cling to a smooth glass surface by a natural static charge. They hold tight, but can be peeled off in seconds.

Self-cling window film is simple to install. Unroll the film on a table and cut it with scissors to a size about one-half inch larger than the window pane. Clean the window with a glass cleaner and leave it very wet. Place the film against the top of the window and roll it downward. Spray the film with the cleaner and run a squeegee over it to remove any bubbles. Trim off the excess and don’t disturb it for a day or so. There is no adhesive, so you just pull it loose to remove it.

Self-cling window films are available in several levels of tint. Once the entire window is covered with a lightly tinted static-cling film, it really is not noticeable even though it blocks much of the glare and fading of carpets and furniture. It will not create the reflective appearance common with some permanent window films.

When you are selecting the window film, it is important to compare the performance specifications. The packaging will often list these specifications. You cannot base the performance of the film solely on the visual level of the tint.

The key specifications to compare are visible light transmitted (glare control), shading coefficient (sun’s heat control), and total ultraviolet rejection (blocks UV fading rays). A low visible light-transmitted property blocks more glare, but gives a more tinted view of the outdoors. A lower shading coefficient means less heat gets indoors through the window. A higher total UV rejection blocks more of the sun’s fading rays.

For more decoration choose a stiffer static-cling window film that has a colorful stained-glass pattern. You can still remove it each winter, but many people prefer to leave it up year-round because it is so attractive and provides privacy. There are many patterns available and some are open enough to allow for a good view outdoors.

Another excellent summer heat reduction option is using sun-control window screening. The sun-control window screening can be installed in the existing window screen frames or come in roll-up exterior or interior shades made of the screening material. Screening is very versatile and can be used the same way as ordinary window screening. These screens have a dense weave and are often made of fiberglass, polyester, or a combination of the two. Various screen weave patterns block 40-90 percent of the sun’s glare.

Don’t forget to install the screening in your storm doors too, especially if you have pets. Special sun-control “pet-resistant” screening is available for windows and doors. This allows you to leave the primary door open to get natural ventilation without worrying your pet may tear through the screens.

Still another option is pull-down shades made of standard window film. Many of the kits are designed to fit the window opening precisely for an attractive appearance.

Write for Utility Bills Update No. 970 for a buyer’s guide of 12 sun-control window film manufacturers, . Include $3.00, a business-size SASE, and Update number. Mail requests and questions to James Dulley, Kentucky Living, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 . Go to to instantly download.

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