What Will Windows Be Like In 10 Years
Post on 08-Apr-2016
DESCRIPTIONWhat will windows be like in 10 years? In this e-book, well explore whats next for windows in terms of energy efficiency, security, and more.
Its been ages since homeowners stopped thinking of windows as mere aesthetic elements. Continuous innovations in window manufacturing keep adding to the functionality of fenestration products, bringing up property values and improving homes overall energy efficiency, security, and comfort.In this e-book, well take a look at some of biggest changes in store for your windows.PART ONE: ENERGY EFFICIENCYFirst up is an issue central to modern window production: energy efficiency. Windows have already come a long way in this field, but theres still a lot of ground to cover.The Department of Energy predicts that our current energy reserves will not be able to meet demand for the next 20 years: an increase of 45% for electricity, 62% for natural gas, and 33% for oil. This can only mean a steady rise in energy costs and a still greater need to conserve energy.Its true that modern windows are already able to cut energy loss by up to 30%, but manufacturers still strive to develop advanced light control systems that might bring this percentage up further. Also called phototropic systems, these smart windows regulate the amount of light that passes through them via different mechanisms. This reduces solar heat gain and eliminates the need for additional window treatments.Below are a few examples:Suspended Particle DevicesSmart glass specialist Research Frontiers, Inc. has patented a type of window glass that can switch (or be switched) from clear to opaque with the use of light-absorbing microscopic light valves called suspended particle devices (SPDs). When SPDs come in contact with an electric current, they align and allow light to pass through. When the voltage goes down, they resume a random arrangement that blocks light.Polymer Dispersed Liquid CrystalsAlready used in liquid crystal displays (LCDs) for computers, mobile phones, and kitchen appliances, liquid crystals function much like suspended particles. In PDLC windows, these particles line up to let light through in the presence of an electrical charge and scatter in a random pattern when the charge is removed. The difference is that instead of going from clear to opaque when charged, PDLC windows go from clear to translucent.Electrochromic Windows All of the technologies described above use very low voltages but are able to boost a homes overall energy efficiency by up to 80%. Thats a pretty impressive payoff!In Part Two of this e-book, well take a look at the bigger picture and find out how the windows of the future will impact the environment.PART ONE: ENERGY EFFICIENCYElectrochromic windows use special materials that change color when an electrical current is applied. They can go from clear to either light-absorbing (opaque) or light-reflecting. One good example of an electrochromic material is tungsten oxide. Like SPDs, electrochromic windows allow varying levels of visibility depending on the voltage level.Part One of this e-book covered the new and exciting technologies that make windows more energy efficient. Thats already a huge plus, environmentally speaking. But taking things further, we can see even more ways by which windows can be good for the environment. Some of these technologies are already around; others are still a long way from penetrating the market. Heres hoping that in a decade, theyd be standard features in American homes.SOLAR POWERSolar roofs are already becoming mainstream across the U.S., and it makes perfect sense for manufacturers to harness this technology for, and extend its benefits to, windows.One company that has made significant breakthroughs in solar windows is New Energy Technologies, Inc. They developed sprayable solar cellscalled SolarWindowthat can be applied onto ordinary window glass. Once applied, the see-through solar coating can generate clean electricity from natural sunlight as well as from artificial sources like fluorescent and LED lighting.ECO-FRIENDLY WINDOW MATERIALSThe ongoing trend in green building is a highly promising one. There is a continuous, even aggressive, push for the use of sustainable, recyclable, low-carbon-footprint building materials, and the window industry is an active participant in the movement.PART TWO: ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITSCompanies like Renewal by Andersen have been leading the charge for more than two decades with their patented bio-fiber polymer composite technology, Fibrex. Fibrex combines the best qualities of thermoplastic polymers and wood to produce a material that is durable and reliable, stable and predictable, insulating, decay-resistant, and good for the environment.BIRD-FRIENDLY WINDOWSWindows on commercial buildings are notorious for being a hazard to birds. The transparent and reflective properties of window glass, while beneficial to us humans, is exactly what kills hundreds of millions of birds each year.Companies like Arnold Glas, the producer of Ornilux, have taken advantage of the fact that birds are able to see light in the ultraviolet spectrum to produce bird-friendly windows. These windows have patterned UV-reflective coatings visible only to birds, allowing them to eliminate the risk of bird window strikes without obstructing views.In the third and final part of this e-book, well take the discussion back to where it (arguably) matters most: your home. Stick around to find out whats in store for your windows in terms of security and comfort.PART TWO: ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITSOne good think to know about window manufacturers is that while their products have become increasingly energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly, they havent lost sight of two of the main functions of windows: security and comfort.COMFORTComfort is closely linked to window energy efficiency. The better your windows are at keeping heat out or in, the easier it is for you to keep your home at a comfortable temperature all year round. This is why manufacturers invest so much into glazing research: as the biggest component of your window, glazing contributes the most to energy efficiency and comfort.In Part One of this e-book, we covered examples of high-tech window glazings that reduce solar heat gain with the help of built-in light control systems. But lets not forget the glazing technologies that are already easily accessible to American homeowners today. In the next decade, you can expect to see more:Tinted windowsChemically or physically altered glass limits the transfer of heat from the outdoors to your interior spaces. While not as efficient as SPDs and electrochromic windows, tinted windows are nonetheless an excellent low-cost alternative.PART THREE: SECURITY AND COMFORT Low-e windowsWindow glass with low-emissivity coatings reflect more light and therefore transfer less heat. Low-e windows are highly recommended for homes in hot climates. This technology is one of the most sought-after today.Gas-filled windowsWindows with gas fills have been around for a while, and with good reason: they work. They contain argon, krypton, xenon, or a mixture of gases that lower the rate of heat transfer through the glazing. This is one window technology that wont disappear from the shelves anytime soon.PART THREE: SECURITY AND COMFORT SECURITYHome security systems designed to prevent break-ins and burglaries through windows have been par for the course for decades, but window companies are taking things a step further with integrated security solutions.One good example is VeriLock, an integrated security sensor that comes optional with select Andersen window products. They can detect whether or not windows are open as well as tell if theyre unlocked. This feature is a first in window security systemsone with a good chance of becoming standard in windows in the near future.Final ThoughtsThere are certainly a lot of exciting things in store for the future of windows, but some of these technologies may cost a lot at first. When choosing which innovative products to adopt in your home, get the most out of your investment by considering factors like your climate zone, your energy needs, and your local building codes. Most of all, always enlist professional help. Industry insiders are the people who can best help you maximize the benefits of the products you choose well into the next few decades.PART THREE: SECURITY AND COMFORT Renwal by Andersen of Austin2100 Kramer Lane Suite 600 Austin, TX 78758(512) 298-2270RBAofAustin.com
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