While past smart window designs required an ongoing electric current (making their implementation somewhat counterproductive), a new schematic by Japanese chemical engineer Xuhong Guo depends on naturally occurring heat only.
“The gel contains a heat-sensitive polymer (a chemical made from chain-shaped molecules),” Student Science explains. “Once the gel’s temperature rises above 32 °C, the polymer molecules coil into small balls.” This process blocks up to 25% of light; this reduction — or reducing incoming heat by one-fourth — could greatly reduce spring and summer cooling costs. Of course, these windows are still in the works. What are the best options for homeowners in the interim?
Do Vinyl Windows Live Up To The Hype?
If your needs are beyond window repair (that is, if you are seriously considering full-out window replacement), chances are you’ve heard a great deal about vinyl windows. Is the relatively new material worth the additional cost? First of all, whether you ultimately go with vinyl windows or another material, replacing windows more than 10 to 15 years old is always wise. Old windows are notoriously drafty, with minimal insulation. Vinyl windows have impressive insulation ratings. Homeowners can do even better by pairing new vinyl windows or vinyl frames with double-paned windows or windows with special treatments, such as a gas coating or glaze. This gas (usually krypton or argon) slows heat transfer, also reducing energy bills.
Window Repair And Spot Treatment
Let’s say new window installation just isn’t in your budget. That’s fine. There are still plenty of things you can do. First, repair any cracks or spaces. In addition to making repairs, adding a storm window or energy efficient coating can go a long way without replacing windows altogether.
Smart windows are in the windows. Until then, homeowners can improve energy efficiency and reduce drafts with new vinyl windows, window repairs, or coatings and storm windows.