Your windows are vital to the integrity of your thermal envelope. What does that mean? It means that if there’s going to be heat or cool air escaping from your home, or if heat or cold is seeping in from the outside, your windows are the most common access points. In the summer, it means that ambient solar heat can make your air conditioner work much harder. In the winter, it means precious heat is lost just when you need it.
No matter what time of year it is, the wrong windows can draw wasted resources from our shared energy grid, and it can cost you money on heat that your home is not actually benefiting from.
So, what do you do when looking to replace old and inefficient windows with new, energy smart ones? Well, the first thing is to know what you’re buying. Writer and energy efficiency enthusiast Elizabeth Demcsak is here to outline three different kinds of smart windows for you to consider.
Read on …
With an impending energy crisis, the need for modernized insulation methods has reached an all-time high. Currently, almost half of the nation’s energy is used to heat and cool commercial and residential buildings. However, a typical home loses around 30 percent of this energy through its windows and doors.
To address this wasteful use of energy, scientists have developed advanced technologies to help control the amount of temperature transferred from outdoors in. While many are still in testing, studies indicate these developments may prevent energy depletion and save customers thousands of dollars annually. Currently there are three types of smart windows, each providing various insulation benefits.
Photochromic energy smart windows
Although still in development, these windows adjust automatically to increase in sunlight, similar to how transitional eyeglasses work. This translates to savings on hot, sunny summer days. However, the system may not be energy-efficient all around.
One major drawback to photochromic windows is its inability to monitor heat gain. Regardless of the temperature outside, the window will darken when struck by light – even on very cold and sunny days. This makes the internal temperatures of the room even colder resulting in higher heating bills.
Thermotropic energy smart windows
Thermotropic windows do respond to changes in temperature and darken to varying levels when heat is present. Depending upon the amount of how much heat is detected, windows will transition from clear to white and reflective, virtually eliminating the transmission of solar heat.
For consumers this does drastically cut down on cooling costs, however these thermotropic films can cause the window to become nontransparent making them unsuitable for view windows.
Electrochromic energy smart windows
These windows are manually-controlled to provide insulation. When an indoor switch is flipped, an electric current runs between the dual-pane window and cause a special glass coating to tint, blocking 98% of solar radiation.
They also reduce glare, enable privacy and the system requires very low voltage to work. There is still much to be tested with this new technology, and it is unknown when they will be available for purchase.
Still much to learn
There is still much to learn about each of these technologies; many are unavailable for purchase, and experts believe their starting prices will be costly. However, as demand increases and more products are released, prices are expected to fall allowing many to reap their benefits. Not only do these developments provide an opportunity to save customers thousands of dollars, they also provide hope towards a more energy efficient future.
Elizabeth Demcsak is a marketing specialist for a variety of clients including JW Surety Bonds. She writes on a diverse number of topics ranging from eco-friendly trends tocontractor bonding requirements.