Hear No Problems and See the Solutions
In addition to lighting options, more homeowners desire extra privacy and face the challenge of reducing noise pollution. It used to be difficult to find non-carcinogenic, low VOC (volatile organic chemical) soundproofing products that were not harmful to the environment. What if you utilized new and affordable eco-friendly soundproofing products to increase privacy and home comfort?
On Demand Window Tint
Homes with extensive windows and southern exposure are at a higher risk for energy consumption when it comes to heating and cooling, however every home's window surface area is a thin barrier to external elements. Heating and cooling systems have to work overtime when windows disturb a building's internal climate. Plus, window space produces the need for extra privacy and comfort, whether you are screening out a nosy neighbor or installing black out blinds to sleep a little longer. Instead of old-fashioned, light-blocking curtains, there are new tint-controlled window options soon to be on the construction market.
A European company has developed the first window that pays for itself over time. Smart Energy Glass, produced by Peer Plus, blocks light and converts the solar radiation into electricity for powering itself. Just about everyone is spoiled today, receiving news and emails whenever they want, fast forwarding through commercials to watch TV shows, and now the ''on demand'' ability will be available with window light controls. The ability to change the window's tint and re-circulate the solar energy means that power is recycled and not lost. And just like the myriad options for customizable color when you're painting a dining room or picking out an aesthetically pleasing sleeve for a cell phone or laptop, the Smart Energy Glass windows can be tailored to custom shades from a set palette. Teun Wagenaar, one of the founders of Peer Plus, is currently observing a team that is testing out several protocols throughout 2011. Consumers are used to waiting for new technology; in just about the same time it takes for a cell phone contract to upgrade tintable windows will be on the market. ''Our aim is to get it ready for production in two years,'' Wagenaar said.
Solar Panels That Fold and Roll
For those interested in conventional solar panels for energy re-circulation, but in a holding pattern because of the bulky and expensive installation process, a manufacturer of flexible solar modules has released portable, lightweight systems to the construction market that were initially reserved exclusively for military use. What once was available only to the military can now be easily purchased by consumers on Amazon.com. Chad West, Marketing Manager of PowerFilm, Inc., shared, ''Early on our primary focus was one of research and development working on our solar technology via SBIR grants and military contracts. Our focus was designing solar products for rugged use that were also lightweight and flexible.'' After working on military projects for approximately 6 years, PowerFilm decided that the positive experiences could translate to the civilian market. Users don't need to deepen their pockets; some have seen savings of up to 50%.
The New Sounds of Silence
Outside of the latest energy-saving and privacy options in lighting, there are new developments occurring in the soundproofing industry. With almost 1 in 5 Americans not getting enough sleep, and the Missouri-area featuring one of the highest areas of sleep deprivation according to 2010 studies released by the Centers for Disease Control, it's likely you or someone you know is affected. For noise control, budget-conscious products like Green Glue are making spaces more desirable.
Sound Isolation Company, based out of North Carolina, is one of the nation's largest suppliers of Green Glue. 'It's easy, consistently reliable and contractors find the product attractive because of its eco-friendly properties, but also because it's light on their budgets,' said President of Sound Isolation Company, Jody Cook. Green Glue is a water-based compound that cuts sound transmission up to 90% - a tremendous benefit for most homes that are crowded with flat screen TVs.
Plus, more people are working from home and require a private, professional home office that will allow for interruption-free conference calls. The compound makes spaces more comfortable and energy-efficient. Whether you're having a new home built or renovating your existing home, Green Glue is applied between layers of drywall; it is one of the more simple soundproofing solutions that do-it-yourselfers go to since about 3 bottles of the affordable compound can soundproof an average room.
What's on the Horizon?
These new green innovations in the solar energy and soundproofing industries are making spaces more comfortable and energy-efficient, saving occupants costs on overhead, but also investing in the environment. Future commercial users of Smart Energy Glass will be happy to have the option of engraving logos on their custom windows; an engraving process is currently on the table.
Wagenaar also plans on having windows that will power decorative lighting and ventilation systems. PowerFilm's solar products will soon be emerging in almost every industry. 'Solar outdoor lighting - parking and security, lighting for cargo carriers, bimini tops for the boating industry, solar for RVs, golf and other electric carts,'' said West. ''[The panels] are so lightweight, flexible, and durable it can be used on places previously thought not viable.' For those still seeking sound control options, Sound Isolation Company is partnering with a soundproofing window supplier later in 2011. As electronic privacy issues swarm on the Internet, homeowners can still rest easy that outside of cyberspace they have eco-friendly options available to improve the comfort and privacy of their homes.