Addressing Solar Heat Gain From Windows

We have some beautiful windows in our house that face directly west.  In a scorching desert like the one we live in, this spells trouble for solar heat gain from the setting sun.  The previous owner obviously faced this issue and tried to deal with it by installing new, insulated windows, as well as installing an external sun shade.  Unfortunately, the sun shade resulted in this view:

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We were hoping to improve on this situation and eventually remove the sunshade.  We bought double-cell light filtering and insulating shades (with the optional cordless and top-down bottom-up features) and then also installed heat control window film:

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In the photo above, window film has been applied to the right window panel and not the left.  As you can see, the window film does tint the window slightly, but it also works to keep the heat out!

So far, we are very happy with this solution and plan to remove the external sunshades in the near future.  Only problem?  Window film is not a pleasant thing to work with if you DIY.  But it can be done.

So here are some tips if you decide to install window film yourself:

  1. Get the installation kit with the solution.  I tired it without and it is just not worth it.
  2. This really a two person job so make sure you have someone around to help.
  3. Clean the windows, cut the film to approx. the right size, etc, as per the instructions. Have one person hold the film as the other pulls off the backing but as you pull off the film backing, leave the backing attached to the bottom couple of inches to hold the film straight.  Spray the film with the solution at this time- this will help keep the film from sticking to itself.  Then remove the backing the rest of the way and apply the solution to the remaining couple of inches.
  4. As you squeegee the film into place, always work from the center out.  Keep reapplying the solution and re-squeegeeing until you are happy with the bubbles being removed.  If there is a tricky bubble or fold, let the film sit for a few hours and come back to it- some solution will have dried off and the bubble may flatten easier at a later time.  But- make sure to do any final adjustments within a 24 hour period.

That’s it!  Window film is definitely not my favorite thing to work with, but it is totally worth for windows that get a lot of sun.