New energy-efficient windows, certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program, can save you up to $126-465 in a "typical home," according to EPA. They keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. They're an ideal feature to add if you're building a home. Replacing windows, however, can be complicated, particularly if you live in an apartment building or condo. Not for nothing do the Bretons have a proverb that warns against piercing old stone walls, many of which have collapsed during reno projects.

Given last year's summer utility bills, horrific well before oil prices surged above $100 a barrel, saving electricity on cooling might be a high priority. But new windows? Don't even want to go there? You're in luck. Low-E coated, stick-on window films can make a window upgrade feel like, well, we'd say child's play, except for the fact that children and their games are so advanced, these days. Maybe easier.

According to the EPA, these coatings alone can lower your electricity costs by up to 15 percent, apart from the other components of a full E-window, such as double glazing, multiple panes, gas fillings and insulated frames. Plus, the films' UV-resistance will help preserve your furniture, carpets, artwork and your skin from sun damage. "These coatings act like sunscreen for your house, blocking damaging UV rays without noticeably reducing visible light," EPA says.

Best of all, you can purchase films pre-cut to fit your windows, and install them yourselves (they only go on the inside of the pane, so you don't have to worry if you live on a high floor. Some very seasoned experts recommend films as a lower-cost, energy saving option.  A good place to start looking is at Snaptint.com. Check out their calming instructional video by clicking here.

The films cost $2.25 to $2.50 per square foot. But if you're one of the lucky and plucky who are ready to do the full monty, check out EPA's tips for choosing from among the many varieties of Energy Star E-windows. No more living with shades drawn. Filter it like water and let the sun shine in!

This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.

Copyright Environ Press 2008