For years, window film has had a bad reputation among window installation firms who see it at best as cheap competition and at worst as a “band aid” for more serious problems. But as homeowners look for more inexpensive ways to meet energy codes, it may be time for window installers to start thinking about how to incorporate film into their business.

By all indications, the window film market is booming. In fact, a report from Mordor Intelligence shows the North America solar control films market is expected to leap from $54.1 million in 2015 to $92.4 million by the year 2020, a compounded annual growth rate of 11.30%.

“They’re showing tremendous growth,” said Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association. “The market is growing and it’s consistently growing.”

That’s true despite unusually low oil prices, which are actually dampening sales right now, Smith said. “Retrofitting would be going much hotter right now if not for that,” he added.

Even so, window film sales remain strong thanks to a push for more energy efficiency. In that area, it’s hard to beat window film. For example, the California Energy Commission creates a “loading order” that ranks products on energy efficiency by cost effectiveness. Window film is near the top of those products, beating even blown in ceiling insulation, Smith said.

That’s largely because window film is so inexpensive compared to many other products, especially new windows. “When green programs were first going into effect, there was a lot of complaints about not being to get a good return on the investment,” Smith said. “So all of a sudden a lot of attention was being paid to existing technology like window film.”

A look at the numbers explains why. A typical window replacement costs $16 to $25 per square foot. A typical window film installation cost $4 to $11 a square foot. Typical window film installs have a 2- to 5-year payback. “You can do it faster, and you can get your money back faster,” Smith said.

What’s more, window film installers offer all the energy-saving benefits of new windows without needing to replace their windows, including infrared reflection. The film is also NRFC energy-certified with the same Energy Star ratings as windows. For homeowners with windows that still have a lot of life left in them, upgrading them through window film makes lots of sense. “Do you really want to pull out your windows and replace them or would you like to have a faster payback and have someone put window film on this afternoon and be done?” Smith asked, mimicking the sales pitch.

All of that may be convincing to homeowners, but it’s harder to convince window installers. “I see it as band aid covering up some of the other issues that may be there,” said John Gorman, president of the Save Energy Company. Gorman added that adding window film voids most window warranties.

Smith is well aware of those attitudes. “There’s a built-in feeling among window installers that I’m downgrading by selling film,” he said. “They’ve got this impression that they’ll end up becoming a film company that also offers windows. There’s a real fear built in there.”

But that fear makes window installers miss an opportunity for more sales, Smith argued. Instead, they should partner with a film installer. Most film installers have 25% sales costs. If those costs are absorbed by the window installers’ sales people the money can be split with the film installer. “That’s a lot better than walking away with nothing,” he said.

Window installers who are worried offering film will cheapen their brand could also offer the service as a separate division of the company. If a lead seems unwilling to do a full window replacement job, film installation could then be presented as an alternative.

As a bonus, Smith said window film installation is typically less susceptible to market fluctuations, which evens out sales. “It means you keep your people focused on what they’re good at and you don’t get into peaks and valleys,” he said. “Really you just need yours sales people to understand at point they bring film into the sales. They have everything they need to actually make the sale.”