Energy Efficient Windows
I really love my house and the climate in this part of the world--it never gets too
cold in El Cerrito (especially after I've lived in NYC), and with the fog from the Bay acting as air conditioning, it rarely gets too hot. But the days it does get very hot can be unbearable because the house is not optimized to deal with the heat at all--when it's only 80 odd degrees Farenheit outside, inside it can soar to 90+ because of the large windows (normally wonderful, as they're built to take advantage of the view) sucking heat in like an oven. So I was very impressed with this New Scientist article
about smart windows--University College of London scientists Ivan Parkin and Troy Manning say they have developed a vanadium oxide coating for glass that "turns on" its heat-repellant properties at around 84 degrees Farenheit--allowing infrared in to heat a cold room but blocking out heat once the room has already gotten toasty. I was amused by Mr. Manning's caption for an electron micrograph
of this coating:"During growth of the film the columnar structure has produced extended areas that resemble a cowboy peering over a rock outcropping."
He leaves unsaid the glories of the glowing cacti said cowboy is peering at.
If this kind of technology can be brought to the market, it will help save air conditioning bills without increasing heating bills or minimizing decorative appeal. Even better news for my friends in New York--as the Ryan Brothers point out in Apartment Therapy
, "Blinds and shades are as necessary as good sunglasses. Despite every New Yorker's desire to have big windows and lots of sunlight, curtains and/or shades are so important not only for style, but also for tempering the energy from the outside world as it flows into your home."
Until the fancy new technology goes up for sale, check out their tips on windowware