Smart windows are a new product that aims to limit energy loss by regulating incoming sunlight at different levels based on the current climate. The cutting-edge technology may be able to reduce HVAC burdens by up to 25 percent, but are smart windows worth the cost?
How Do Smart Windows Work?
Smart windows are equipped with a sunlight filter that will manually or automatically adjust to improve the energy efficiency of the building. In cold seasons, the windows lighten and let in sunlight; in hot weather, the windows darken and prevent sunlight from penetrating the room and raising the temperature.
Manufacturers can utilize varying technologies. Some smart windows use suspended particle devices layered in between glass panes. When electricity flows through the particles, they arrange themselves in an order easily penetrable by light. After the electricity source is removed, they return to their prior disorganized, light-blocking state. Some companies have developed products that block only heat, but still allow light through windows.
Most smart windows run on electricity for light control, reducing overall energy savings. They are also expensive to purchase and install. The wide range of prices — between $20 and $100 per square foot — is a reflection of the many kinds of energy-efficient window technologies available. For an average window size of 2.5 by 5 feet, the costs could stretch from $250 to $1,250 per window, depending on the manufacturer. For a home with 15 windows, the total replacement costs could range from $3,750 to $18,750, not including the cost of labor.
Since the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 48 percent of the average home’s utility bill consists of heating and cooling costs, saving money in this area is essential for homeowners interested in paying less for utilities each month. If a home has aging, single-pane windows, replacement may be the best course of action, possibly with products that use smart technology, if the homeowner can afford it. If the property already has double-paned, competent windows, replacement may not be worth the cost when other energy-saving alternatives exist.
For example, the DOE suggests installing energy-efficient window coverings to limit heating and cooling loss in all seasons. Interior and exterior storm panels can cut down winter energy loss by up to 50 percent. Dual cellular shades are also effective energy-saving products. One side is darker and absorbs heat, and the other, lighter side reflects sunlight. The configuration can be reversed, depending on the season, with the reflective side always facing the warmer climate. This product can minimize rising temperatures by up to 45 percent.
Another benefit to purchasing high-quality window treatments is their decorative properties. Forsaking all window coverings for smart windows can leave a room with a barren, empty feel. Energy-efficient blinds, shades and shutters that complement the design serve two meaningful purposes.
Contact Utah Blinds Gallery for additional facts on affordable window treatments that can save on energy costs as an alternative to smart windows.