A “smart” window better than a Thermos?

30 Nov 2011

Cool technology of the future?

The evolution of windows from single pane to double pane, to coated, to windows with argon gas between the double panes (low emissivity or low e) has been fairly well known.   It used to be that windows would let heat and light in regardless of the time of year.  Thus far, windows have evolved until they are sort of  “thermos like”  – they now let light in and keep heat out (or in).  It’s like that old joke, a themos keeps cold things cold and hot things hot but … how does it know?  

There are scientists working on something even better.  A window coating that, when active, would let heat in in the winter but not in the summer. In short, it would allow natural heat to help heat your home in the winter but not let it run up your AC costs in the summer.   Given that buildings account for 40% of our energy use and windows account for 10-25% of our heating bills, this kind of technological advance could be huge.  While solar, wind, nuclear, oil, gas and geothermal technologies get debated ad nauseum, the smart money knows that the best energy dollar is one saved rather than one spent.

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