How often have you caught yourself groaning at the thought of having to clean your window treatments? Hanging and taking down heavy drapes or even light curtains can be quite a chore. Washing them yourself can be backbreaking work, and having them dry-cleaned can be costly. Blinds, on the other h and, also need to be cleaned meticulously, which can take up most of your day.
Smart windows are the first step towards easing that burden. Save yourself the hassle of cleaning your windows treatments, save money on dry-cleaning, and save as well as on your electric bill. Does this sound too good to be true? Well good things come to those who wait, and we’ve sure waited long enough for this technological innovation to become a reality.
During sunny days, heat from the sun can also raise temperatures inside your home, which can put quite a strain on your air conditioning. Smart windows help reduce the work by blocking out the extra heat. In addition, because your smart windows can also keep UV radiation out, you get extra protection for your carpets, furniture, and precious paintings as well. You can control the amount of heat and light that enters your home by choosing to install smart windows.
Let’s take a quick snapshot of where we’re at with the technologies that are available in smart window applications:
Thermotropics and Photocromics or photochromatics – While these technologies can be used in smart windows, they’re thought to be the least practical among the currently available choices. Like the lenses of sunglasses, photochromic windows will darken in response to light—so on a sunny but cold winter day, these windows will darken and block out light instead of letting it in to warm the inside of your home. A thermotropic window, which responds to heat, will likewise block out the sun even when you want to let the heat in. Neither type can be manually controlled, rendering them practically useless as a means of saving energy.
Liquid Crystals – Once upon a time, we thought of horizontal mini blinds as the bee’s knees. However, with current applications in liquid crystal technology, curtains and blinds may soon be obsolete, except, perhaps, for decorative purposes. Liquid Crystals are found in many of our everyday products, such as calculators, clocks, computers, microwave ovens, watches, and the like. In window technology, the liquid crystals respond to electricity, arranging molecules r andomly and blocking out light in the absence of an electrical charge. Turn the juice on, and the crystals align themselves to let light through. With LCD glass, you get either a clear or a translucent window; there’s nothing in between.
So these first two technologies are good choices, but why stop at that if there are even smarter choices available to us? Up next in Part 3, a closer look at newly developed and developing window technologies that address energy savings better—just what today’s consumer is looking for.