Saturday, March 28, 2009

Heat loss through windows

Talking to my dad:

Question: what happens when we have large glass walls/windows and all the heat gets lost through them?
The major heat loss in our house is apparently though the windows.

+One alternative is no windows. We could replace the windows with giant television screens! I'm very much against this. Lack of real light, and too many lcd screens.

+Or we could have insulating windows. For example:
--shutters over the windows
--fill the windows with an insulating gas
--have a setup that pumps tiny packing foam balls into the space between window panes (and can pump them out again)

Options such as shutters and packing material will block light as well as heat, so they would be closed when no-one is home or during the night.

These solutions could either be hand motivated or automated. Automated solutions could integrate the shutter/vaccum controls could integrate with the temperature sensors and be part of the passive heating and cooling system, or just be time based like current termostate setups.


  1. The vacuum system sounds ridiculously complex, and would also require significant power to use which we have been avoiding in the house.

    Is there enough advantage to something as simple as heavy curtains that hang from the ceiling covering the whole glass wall?
    If the glass is double paned (creates a vacuum in the middle, naturally insulating) and well sealed, I would think that curtains would be enough to cut down that heat loss.

  2. I've heard good things about new innovations in windows- thicker, more layers, etc. I'm in, but it would be good to check out the statistics. I like the idea of shutters or thick curtains... What about other solutions?

  3. Re: the complexity of a vacuum system:
    Yes, I know... but it would be so much fun!

    The house that I'm living in has terrible windows. We're in Vancouver and the nights are regularly colder than back in Calgary in the winter. (Or perhaps I'm just going soft...)
    We do have heavy curtains over some of the windows... but I think having good windows is a priority. Double paned as Joanna suggested.

    As for a glass wall, we'll just have to be particularly careful about how it's constructed, and carefully weigh the costs and benefits.