The Super Window – A Huge Energy Saver

Kirsten Long

From extra caulking to special anti-draft fabrics, there are many different products on the market today to help homeowners and building operators deal with heat loss but manufacturers continue to search for more solutions. The well-established Berkley Lab has been experimenting with windows for over 40 years and may be on to the next best approach. They call it the super window.

Each winter the United States loses around $20 billion worth of energy that escapes out of windows that are almost all double paned insulated. The Global Source for Science News tells us that The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been working to bring us a “super window” that may solve this problem.

The Berkley lab is manufacturing “thin triple”, energy-efficient windows to bring to the market that are twice as insulated and double the thermal performance of almost all of the windows for sale today. The scientists from the lab have completed the testing on prototypes and are looking to work with the largest window manufacturer, Anderson Corporation, in the United States. The goal of this invention is to help manufacturers overcome technology challenges, creating a ‘technology push’ but also having a ‘market pull’ by providing rebates and incentives to consumers.

This is not the first time Berkeley Lab has created a green building technology. They have a long history of innovation that dates back to the 1970s when they created a low-emissivity window coating that blocks long-wave infrared rays. The coating reportedly saved the country billions. The super window has the possibility to save even more money. It is made of three layers of glass; a thin layer placed in between two double-glazed windows, an additional layer of low-emissive coating, and krypton gas as opposed to argon gas. Experts have indicated that the krypton gas provides a lot more insulation than argon, further reducing heat transfer. The best part about this window is that the size and weight is comparable to double-glazed windows, meaning that there is no need to redesign window sash and frames to fit the super window.

In warmer climates, windows allow heat from sunlight into buildings and therefore increase the internal temperature. The smart window electrochromic window, automatically tints when sunlight is detected and reduces buildings from overheating and in turn, saves on cooling costs. The Berkeley Lab has been working with this technology and a material called nanocrystal that manages the intensity of sunlight entering through a window. They hope to make even further advances in window technology, making them more efficient and helping our environment.

The “thin triple” super window design doubles the thermal performance of current Energy Star-rated double-glazed windows and is seven times more insulating than a single-glazed window.