The following contribution is from another author.
Technology keeps on marching forward, year after year. And it’s not just affecting the world of computers and electronics – it is leaching out into the real world too!
Keeping homes warm at a low cost is one of society’s top priorities. We need accommodation that saves energy and keeps bills down for residents, many of whom are struggling to get by. That task, however, is easier said than done. The second law of thermodynamics has an annoying habit of bypassing our best efforts to keep heat in the home.
Fortunately, the world’s scientists are on the case. While you can’t stop heat from escaping an open system (like a home), you can manipulate nature in important and novel ways to keep it contained. We may never achieve perfect efficiency, but we can do a heck of a lot better than we’re doing right now.
So what solutions are out there? Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the ideas that researchers and industry professionals have had to keep us warm.
The second law of thermodynamics is essentially a statistical phenomenon. All those atoms bouncing around in random directions will eventually spread their energy in an outward arc, passing some of it on to the surrounding material. This effect explains why a warm room finally cools down.
But now researchers are wondering whether they can inject energy back into the room passively to keep everything jiggling along at high temperatures.
Typically, the central heating did this job, but deploying that would send you right back to square one. You need something that isn’t going to cost a fortune in running costs.
The latest idea is to turn windows into sources of energy. You would lace them with some kind of technology that converts light into electricity, and then use that to power your heating system.
Existing photovoltaics are heavy and bulky, and they affect the transparency of the window – not great. So now researchers are investigating the possibility of using organic material instead. Here you allow most of the light through, but capture the remaining photons and convert them into electricity. You then use that to power radiators.
Interestingly, these new Voltaics capture infrared light coming from the sun – not visible light. So you can take advantage of all of the incoming energy, without making it feel like you’re living in a shoebox.
Attic insulation used to be around six inches thick. Then, people discovered that you could save much more on your heating bills long term if you increased it to a little over a foot.
Of course, adding a foot of insulation isn’t always practical. And even if you do decide to do it, it is expensive and time-consuming. Unless you arrange it correctly, heat will escape through the gaps around the sides, and you’ll wind up with higher energy bills.
Loose-fill insulation, therefore, has become something of a godsend. Here companies effectively spray pieces of insulation in a carpet on top of your boards and existing fiber-glass panels. The particle size is small enough to make its way into all the nooks and crannies in your loft, so you get much better coverage. In addition, operatives can add as much of the stuff as you like, making it more difficult for heat to escape from your home.
Digital Infrared Heaters
Digital infrared heaters are a relatively new innovation that aims to keep your home warm using physics.
Infrared waves are less energetic than visible light and ultraviolet, so they require less energy to produce. At the same time, though, they still churn out a large amount of heat energy.
Now you can connect these devices to your WiFi network to provide smart heating all day long, according to a sleep timer or your instructions.
You’ve heard of cavity wall insulation – that’s pretty standard. Filling walls with liquid, however, is a relatively new innovation.
Current cavity wall foam is quite effective in filling all the spaces behind a wall, preventing heat from getting out (or coming in). But it is not perfect. Most foam-filled cavity walls fail to keep out heat after a day of sustained hot weather.
Heat getting into your home is annoying because it means that you have to spend more on air conditioning. But it is even more critical in hospitals. Liquid-insulation, however, provides more of a buffer because it takes more energy to heat up. Hospitals, in particular, are looking at the technology to help keep patients cool in heat waves.