Can solar window shades save energy by blocking sunlight? Yes, and some researchers are even going one step farther. MIT scientists have invented glass that can change from clear to shaded in an instant.
What is the Solar Shade Tech Used in Airline Cabins?
Windows in Boeing 787 jets use self-shading technology. With a flip of a switch, pilots can darken the jet’s cabin windows. Electrical charges change the glass, blocking out sun glare and improving passenger comfort. The technology used in the jets is slower than the methods used by the MIT scientists.
Boeing’s jet windows are also more of an “energy hog” than the new, faster process from MIT. The MIT self-shading windows can change the glass from completely clear to completely black. The jet windows can only switch from clear to dark green.
How do Self-Shading Windows Work?
The new MIT technology isn’t the same as other types of sun-sensitive glass. You’ve seen light-sensitive material used in eyeglasses. They use technology that gets darker in sunlight or lighter in an indoor environment. Sun-sensitive glasses use “photochromic” materials. The material responds slower than the MIT technology. It also won’t become completely dark.
The reason is the type of material used. MIT has developed an “electrochromic” technology for its glass. This technology responds to an electrical charge, not changes in light.
New Type of Self-Shading Tech Uses Less Power
MIT’s new self-shading window technology is faster than alternatives. It also has lower energy needs. Once the glass is switched on or off, it needs no extra power to stay either clear or dark. The windows in Boeing jets need continuous power to stay dark.
How Would Self-Shading Windows Work in a Home?
MIT professor Mircea Dinca invented the new type of self-shading glass. Prof. Dinca says that the new technology could be almost as fast as flipping a light switch. Windows made from this type of glass could reduce the need for air conditioning. They could also become “smart windows,” able to sense when the sun’s glare is too bright on their own.
Solar Panel Window Shades Can Save Energy
Like self-shading windows, solar window shades can save energy. They block sunlight in the summer, reducing air conditioning bills. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), solar window screens can reduce bills by up to 33 percent.
Cut Solar Heat Gain
Solar heat gain is the reason you have to run your air conditioner more in hot weather. Proper window shades can reduce solar heat gain. How much can they cut back on the heat? The Department of Energy says anywhere from 33 to 45 percent. You will get the best energy saving results using solar shades in south and west-facing windows.
Alternative Window Coverings
Alternatives to solar window shades include reflective film, various types of blinds, and draperies. In hot climates, some people may use reflective film to lower energy costs. Reflective film helps keep homes cool during the summer months, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). The flip side? The DOE says that the film keeps heat out during the winter. It can reduce heat up to 20% when you want it during cold months.
Window blinds are also not as effective as shades in reducing energy costs. The many openings between slats can allow heat loss in winter. They will also let more heat to enter during the summer, according to the Department of Energy. Draperies can also shut out heat and light. We are all familiar with “blackout” curtains from hotels. The DOE says that draperies do keep some heat inside your home in winter, but are less help during the summer.
Benefits of Indoor Solar Window Shades
Solar window shades allow you to see outside of your windows while maintaining privacy. They also block harmful UV radiation, just as sunscreen can protect your skin against sunburn. These harmful sun rays can also damage materials inside your home. What kind of materials? Furniture, rugs, paintings, and even family photos can experience UV damage. In addition to saving energy, solar shades also come in a variety of different transparencies, styles and colors.
You can’t install self-shading windows using MIT’s cutting edge “electrochromic” technology immediately. The researchers are working on a one-inch square demonstration device to show to potential investors.
In the meantime, beautiful, energy-saving and home enhancing alternatives include our indoor solar shades. If you would like to learn more about how these shades can enhance your home, please contact us today at Reno Blinds and Repair – (775) 636-4649.