When you think of windows and technology, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a computer operating system. Most homeowners don't think of their own glass windows at home as a place for new technology. However, researchers are always working on ways to make your windows more environmentally friendly, energy efficient, and functional. You might be surprised at the way changing window technology may soon be changing your home and the rest of the world. Take a look at some of the exciting advancements in home-window technology.
Have you ever heard or seen a bird fly into one of your windows? It's not uncommon, especially if you have large picture windows or glass doors. This happens because the birds can't see the glass—they only see what's reflected in the glass. Therefore, your window that looks out over your garden just looks like more garden to the bird—until they hit the glass. The impact of a bird hitting the glass isn't a very pleasant sight or sound for you, and it's even worse for the bird. Unfortunately, a large number of birds are killed this way.
Enter bird-safe glass: glass that's coated, silk-screened, or otherwise marked with patterns that the birds can see. This includes ultra-violet coatings, which are visible to the bird but invisible to the human eye. That means that you can help prevent unnecessary bird death without compromising your own scenic views. Several varieties of bird-safe glass are available from a variety of different companies, and it costs only about 5% more than that of standard glass. That's a small price to pay for windows that help you do your part to protect the bird population in your area.
Solar Power–Generating Glass
Home solar-power generation isn't anything new. If you're interested in energy independence, you may already be using solar panels or shingles on your roof to generate your own power. However, you may not realize that there's another large amount of space that could also be put to work generating power: your windows. As it turns out, solar power–generating windows are getting ready to hit the market.
There are a couple of ways that solar windows can work. One company uses the same type of photovoltaic cells that are currently used in solar roofs, but the cells are sliced into small strips and placed in between glass panes. Wiring in the window frame feeds the energy into an inverter, which then feeds into the electric power grid. This technology is suitable for new construction. However, if you're looking for technology that can be used to replace or retrofit existing windows, that exists too, in the form of windows coated with photovoltaic film. This has the added benefit of flexibility when it comes to converting the power generated; you'll be able to use the power to provide electricity for one room, one floor, or a whole building. While solar power–generating windows are estimated to cost about 40% more than standard windows, manufacturers claim that they will pay for themselves within a year thanks to the energy savings they provide.
Tired of washing drapes and curtains or cleaning blinds? Wouldn't it be easier if the glass just blocked light and heat for you when you needed it? Smart glass—electrochromatic glass that can be tinted on demand—isn't a new technology, but the cost has made it out of reach for most applications. However, new advances are making this technology both more affordable and more useful.
This glass uses nanocrystals that respond to an electric charge to block not only visible light but also the invisible near-infrared light that produces much of the heat that you feel coming through your windows on a hot day. It can block up to 90% of near-infrared light as well as 80 percent of visible light, so you can save energy in your house by blocking heat from penetrating your window glass. These windows aren't on the market yet, but they're coming soon—expect to see them sometime in 2017.
Even if you're not in the market for high-tech window glass, it's good to know that window-glass technology is changing to become more environmentally responsible and energy efficient. If you're in the market for replacement windows, ask a window professional such as Statewide Energy Solutions about energy-saving options that are right for your home and your budget.