Windows are critical to making a home feel bright and inviting. Unfortunately, they can also be a giant energy drain by allowing in heat or cold. Manufacturers have been working for decades on improving the energy efficiency of their products. Today, there are many options for smarter windows that can save homeowners big money on their utility bills. There are also after-market products that can dramatically improve the efficiency and other aspects of existing windows.
The biggest news in the world of windows is smart glass, also known as switchable glazing. Still new and pricey, smart glass goes from clear to opaque, and every shade in between, either by manual control or in response to light or heat, depending on the type of glazing used. Some of these tinted windows are designed strictly for privacy control, while newer versions are focused on delivering energy savings.
Another technology expected to revolutionize windows is a special coating that allows the glass to capture the power from the sun or interior lights to generate energy. These game-changing products would allow homeowners to take part in the solar power movement without installing obtrusive panels on their roofs.
Smartphones and tablets are also allowing window manufacturers to offer helpful extras with their products. For example, a new series includes embedded sensors to allow homeowners to go online and see if any of their home's windows (or doors) are unlocked. There are also smart blinds and shades that a homeowner can control via smartphone or tablet, and even program with different settings for particular times of day or to coincide with certain activities, such as watching movies.
Replacing your home's windows is, of course, extremely expensive. If that's not in the budget, there are still ways to take advantage of new technology. Convert your current windows with a variety of high-tech films that change how your windows function without changing their appearance to the naked eye. Most allow for DIY installation that involves measuring the windows, cutting the film to size, and sticking it in place.
There is a sunblock film that promises to keep out the sun's healthy rays while allowing plenty of natural light in. The product also blocks heat for more consistent room temperatures and reduces glare on TV and computer screens. Another patterned coating can save the lives of birds and protect your windows from damage. There's also an electrostatic film that allows you to use your smartphone to instantly change the window's opacity.