How to Cool Your Home With Window Tinting

A sliding glass door with tinted glass.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 55-100
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Window film or tint
Window solution
Window squeegee
Spray bottle
Utility knife
Paper towels
Clean rags

Homeowners spend a lot of time and money trying to lower the cost of heating their home during colder months, however, reducing cooling costs are just as important for saving money and cutting your carbon footprint. Window tints and films are a great way to minimize the amount of heat coming into your home, and something any DIYer can easily do themselves.

How Window Tinting Works

The sun’s rays can rapidly heat your home through the windows when temperatures rise outside, making your air conditioner work overtime. Window tint or window film will not only block harmful UV rays, but may also diminish glare, add privacy, and drastically reduce incoming heat. The amount of energy savings you will notice depends on the type and strength of the product that you choose. The higher the energy efficiency rating, the better the thermal “bounce” will be, which reduces the solar heat gain in the home.

Step 1 – Getting Started

For a DIY installation, you can purchase a full home window tinting kit online or at hardware stores, or purchase only the product that you need if you already have the other necessary materials. Along with the tint or film, you’ll need a utility knife or razor, window squeegee, tape measure, spray bottle, paper towels or a clean rag. Take a look at the instructions on the box to see if anything else is needed. Special window solution is often sold separately or within a kit, but you can make your own as well.

Step 2 - Deciding on Tint or Film

Window tint will usually have a color and opacity to it, while window film tends to be clear. Insulating films or tints will work on reducing heating and cooling costs all year round. Glare-reducing products work well at reducing the type of light that affects computer screens and TVs, making them a good choice for media rooms. Privacy tints will prevent outsiders from seeing in while allowing those inside the home to see out. All of these varieties will block 99% of UV rays, but heat reduction will vary by manufacturer, so it’s important to assess what your home’s specific needs are. You may decide to only do a few windows that really need it, or choose different products for different windows.

Step 3 - Preparation

Measure your windows so that you know what size and length you need before you make a purchase. Make sure to remove any stickers or debris from the glass and then clean the windows with a proper solution. It may sound odd, but no-tear baby shampoo mixed with water is a commonly used mixture for prepping windows and applying the film. Start with four drops in 16 ounces of water, but remember that spraying will be needed throughout the process so mix enough beforehand. Ammonia or vinegar-based cleaners are not recommended before or after the film is applied.

Step 4 - Applying the Product

Cut a piece of film so that it is one inch longer than all sides of the window pane. Spray the window generously with the solution, making sure not to leave any finger prints on the glass. You may want the help of another person as it can be tricky to remove the backing on the film without contaminating the sticky side with your fingers. Spray this adhesive side while peeling away the backing to help keep it from sticking. Start one corner at the top of the window, pressing the sticky side onto the window glass, and work your way downward. Make sure the film is centered and pull it along flat with the help of the squeegee. Keep the spray bottle handy so you can moisten the adhesive as you are applying it to the window surface. Continually mist the glass as well, as you place the film towards the bottom of the window.

Step 5 - Final Steps

Once you are satisfied with where the film has been placed, spray the solution over the entire area and do another squeegee to get out any ridges and air bubbles. Work from the center towards the edges to get all excess moisture out. Carefully cut the edges of the film against the window trim using a guide if necessary and a sharp knife or razor. Try to cut in one continuous motion on each side. Afterwards, do a final squeegee and moisten the area only slightly to allow for easy motion across the film. Dab any moisture from the edges with a paper towel or rag. Allow the film to set in the recommended time, usually around 30 minutes. A full cure may take close to a week to set.

The benefits of applying window tints or films in your windows are numerous: they prevent furniture and drapes from fading, may reduce glare on monitors and screens, provide privacy, and drastically cut down on your overall cooling bill. You can save around a third of the price by doing this task yourself and still achieve professional looking results that will lasts many years to come.