Energy Efficiency

Published on July 15th, 2020 | by Scott Cooney


Window tinting for keeping cool and saving energy

Record breaking heat waves have a way of focusing us on staying cool inside our homes and offices. Doing so in an economical and eco-friendly fashion is a smart move on multiple levels. Window tinting can be a great option. Much like tinting the windows on your car, it simply allows less of the sun’s heat to transfer through.

This post will walk you through how it’s done and show you the eye-popping results!

Selecting the windows with the best effects

First, you’ll want to find the windows which transfer the most heat into your home. Typically, in the northern hemisphere, this is south or west facing, but sometimes east as well. At my house, we chose this west facing window, which heats up the bedroom tremendously in the afternoon as it gets direct sun from 1 – 6 PM.

The window is seen here from the outside.

Step 1. Get a window tinting kit and film. Ceramic tints have the best heat-filtering, but come with a price tag to match. Ceramic tints will last longer, so it’s a good investment. In this case we chose a titanium tint, due to budget and also not being sure that these windows will be around in 5 year (we may replace them at some point).

The tools you’ll need:

  • window cleaner
  • microfiber cloth
  • window film application solution spray
  • Tint – these range in emissivity and U-factor. Emissivity is more or less how reflective it’ll look from the outside. U-factor is the important piece for energy – it’s a range from 0 to 1, with lower numbers meaning greater energy efficiency.
  • tinting kits often come with the rest – cutting razors, and a squeegee tool

Step 2. The next step is to clean the windows, sills, and frames REALLY WELL. It’s a critical step, since dust, debris, pet hair, and anything else that gets under the tint film will cause bubbles or imperfections…and this is a “permanent” setup, so just clean it really well and try to avoid anything that will cause you to hate yourself for being lazy on application day every time you see it for the next 5 years. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe it all clean and dry, and hopefully remove the last bits of dust, etc.

Step 3. On a flat, clean work area, unroll the film, liner side up. Mark and cut the film 1 inch wider and 1 inch longer than the window.

Step 4. If you’re applying film with an adhesive backing, use two pieces of scotch tape, one on the outside of each side of the film, facing each other, so that you can use them to peel the film apart from its backing. On larger pieces, you will need a second person to help you avoid contaminating the film.

TIPS on step 4 – wash your hands, and keep them wet with the application solution throughout this step. This prevents leaving fingerprints on the film (which, again, will be permanently in there!). Also make sure not to crease the film as you peel it from its backing…slow, steady, and unidirectional!

Step 5. Spray the film and the window with the solution (liberally!) and apply the film to the clean window. Push out any bubbles with your hand – starting at the middle and pushing outward. Once you’ve got the bubbles out, press the film firmly to the edges of the window. You can use the squeegee and even wrap it with the microfiber cloth to help you really smooth it out.

Step 6. Use the razor to trim the film right along the edges of the window.

TIP on step 6 – start at the corner and trim away from it, rather than working toward a corner, which can bunch up the film and cause an imperfect cut. Even it it’s not perfect, unless you’re doing it professionally, the tint will still get the job done if the cuts in the corner are not perfect.

Step 7. If you have to use overlapping pieces (i.e., for larger windows), just do the first piece, then overlay the second piece and cut along the edge where it connects after you have bubbles out from the second piece of film.

Getting ‘er done

Here, you can see we applied the film to the top left window.

Then we did the middle.

Once we had these done, we took temperature readings – check out the video below to see how much difference the tint made immediately!


If for some reason the video doesn’t render, the punchline is that it cut 25 degrees worth of heat from the room!!

As the solution dries, the film will start to really glue in within 30 minutes (so try not to touch it much!), and will be fully cured within a week.



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About the Author

Scott Cooney is a serial eco-entrepreneur including being the solo founder of Pono Home,, and CleanTechnica; author of two books; former sustainability consultant with clients including Johnson & Johnson, Eastman Chemical, Wal-Mart, and Duke Energy; former Adjunct teaching the first course in sustainable business in the MBA program at UH Manoa; lover of local, healthy food and especially vegan nachos. Find Scott on Twitter

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