Window film and the hidden cost of sunlight

 

Spring has finally arrived and we couldn’t be happier here at Solar Sentry Window Films! We love the warmer weather, the longer days and the build up to summer. Everything really seems to wake up. Often though, and especially in the UK, we are so thankful for a few weeks of sun that we cheerfully overlook not only the impact the sun can have on our health, but also the hidden impacts it has on our businesses. Impacts which can be drastically reduced with the right window film installed.

If I suggested to you during winter that you crank the heating up and open all the doors and windows in your office, you’d quite rightly think ‘what a stupid thing to do’ and your Financial Director might have a thing or two to say about the heating bill! However during the summer we all do something similar. We allow solar heat in the form of infrared radiation to pass through our glass and heat our buildings, and then set the air-conditioning to ‘arctic’ to try and combat the temperature – and cooling a room consumes more energy than it takes to heat it (http://econ.st/1vTF1h6) – not to mention the wear and tear this causes on HVAC units!

“Window film blocks up to 81% of infrared heat gains”

But it isn’t just the excess heat removal that is directly costing businesses money. The increase in carbon consumption means more has to be done to offset their carbon footprint, reduce consumption in other areas and under the various and changeable government schemes and levies (CCL) – potentially have to pay more in what is often dubbed “carbon tax”. It is also paying companies greater dividends to have a green image in an increasingly environmentally conscious business marketplace. With the increase in uptake of ISO14001 and the like, reducing carbon is not only good commercially, it’s a boon to reputation which is good business sense every time.

“These are’t hidden costs!” I hear you shouting, and you’re right. The really hidden costs of excess sunlight are ones we really ought to know about, but for some reason don’t connect the dots. “My office is like a greenhouse!” “Oh it’s far too hot to focus” “Someone put a fan on, I’m roasting!” The chant of the British office workers when the sun comes out. When a workplace is too hot people don’t work as well. Although this is quite obvious, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted a study which shows nearly 10% reduction in staff productivity when office temperatures get to 30 degrees C (http://eaei.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/LBNL-60946.pdf)

This graph shows a reduction in productivity as temperature rises - an effect that can be combated by window film.

 

So what does it mean to have a 10% drop in productivity? Assuming an office accommodates 30 workers and gets to 30 degrees for a week, 10% would equate to 3 people doing nothing. And getting paid!! Assuming an average £20k salary, thats £1200 per week. Not to mention their lost revenue, drop in overall morale etc. The costs soon mount up. OK maybe that is an overly literal example, but there is undeniably a cost to a business if there is a drop in staff productivity and morale.

Perhaps the most worrying cost of sunlight is the damage it causes. Along with heat and light, the suns rays contain Ultraviolet, the harmful radiation that causes items to fade and damages our skin leading to skin cancers and melanomas. Although glass does block out some of the UV, a good amount of UVA is still allowed to pass through uninhibited – outlined by Cancer Research UK here. As further evidence, we’ve all had an ornament, a book, a shoe or some other item fade because it’s left next to a window. An employer will cheerfully sit their newest staff member next to a window and say “what a lovely view, plenty of natural light” but stop short of handing out the Factor 50. 1 in 3 of us will now get a form of cancer in our lifetimes – a terrifying thought and I can’t help but wonder if some of that will be caused by sitting next to windows for long periods of time, or driving for long distances.

“All of Solar Sentry’s window films block up to 99% of harmful UV rays”

I have worked with window film for nearly 7 years now, and I genuinely believe that as business owners become more aware of these costs and dangers, window film will become a business essential. Blocking out 99% of UV, cutting down on glare and reducing heat gains in buildings will combat the hidden costs of sunlight whilst retaining the view through the glass, protecting your staff and business assets, and protecting the wider environment.

So as we move into spring and summer, put away our winter gear and break out the shorts and shades, and count the days until our much-awated beach getaway, it might be worth taking a moment and asking what the sunshine will really be costing your business this year.