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Window efficiency reconsidered

 
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The problem with making windows more energy efficient is they are using one item to perform two very different functions. A window is both a system for letting in light, and a system for letting in air while keeping water out. The need to make a structural frame for glass that can move is why the technology looks like it does, and why they tend to leak air and water. You'd think there would be better windows out, it's been a long time since any real improvements have been made to them.

I'm thinking it's an interesting idea to use fixed glass windows (which are easy to seal airtight) for the light, and Wind Doors for the air flow (easy to make watertight.) Not sure how the logistics would work, but a door is easy to seal, lots of good tech for that. Maybe small doors up high or down low to move air where you want, or under the glass window to keep the familiar feel of an open window.

Any thoughts or ideas on this?
 
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I find the idea fascinating.   Without the level of thought you put into it, we put French patio doors in our bedroom.  The one problem I see with your idea is that if the idea of selling  the property in the future, the excess of doors might alienate  buyers. Of course, most of use have no intention of selling.
 
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I grew up in a "unique" house.

One of the things the builders/original owners did to save costs was not purchase windows that opened in the original house. Instead, they made a hole under the window the width of the window and about 8" tall, covered with screen, with a removable board to fit and a deep window sill (log house).  In the winter, you took a garbage bag full of insulation, stuffed it in the hole, and covered the interior with the board. It actually provided surprisingly good ventilation in the summers (not being baffled by a angled window helped a lot, I think), and no draftier than the rest of the house in the winter, but the insulation was messy and a great home for mice.

I am sure you could think of a better system, Pearl! (maybe foam insulation instead of fiberglass, for one).
 
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I love this idea.
You kind of see it in glass block windows with vents inset, but totally decoupling the functions could really free things up.

Screened openings with a fixed awning could have insulated doors on the inside, maybe coupled with solar chimneys and earth tubes.

Clerestory windows go above head height, and offer great natural light.
The first room I had to myself had windows at head height to near the ceiling and they were perfect to me.
Cupolas are historically used for light and ventilation.
They do penetrate the roof deck,  but are easier to make water impervious than sky lights.

A vented cupola with a wind scoop inside  could catch a lot of air, more if we could make it spin to face the breeze.

A windowed cupola already admits light from any compass direction, but inside the house,  mirrors could be used to put it where you want it.
If you surround the cupola with a reflective roof,  and give it a reflective ceiling, more light could be captured.

For windows that need not offer a view,  what about using materials that are translucent but not transparent?
Some foam insulation fits this description.
What is the light transmission of an inch of styrofoam?
Glass or silicone filled with air bubbles might work.
Bubble wrap already exists, how about an inch thickness of it between two plates of glass?



 
Pearl Sutton
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Something that could increase airflow through the Wind Doors is to not screen it flat. Screens block a certain percentage of air flow, depending on what they are made of, 50% or more, so when the screen is the same size of the opening (like a flat screen that comes as part of a window) it's not very efficient air flow. If you built a good tight frame on a wind door that is shaped like a box, and screened all the sides, the air would be bug free and the air flow rate would be higher than through a window opening of the same size that has a flat screen.

Catie George:
That's kind of what I mean, only make the opening more sealable, just a small door that is insulated and seals like a house door.
And I hadn't actually gotten as far as checking the price of the windows, good point! This bubbled up in my head yesterday when I was annoyed at one of the badly installed windows in this rental. Badly installed, very cheap windows, and bad tech to start with! Have to run some numbers on my house plan windows.... Good point!

William Bronson:
I am a huge fan of clerestory light, for many reasons. My last home I tore the roof off, redecked and resurfaced the part I left in place, and built a 26 foot by 9 foot by 5 foot high thing on the roof, looked like a big shoebox up there, and put windows all the way down it on both sides. REALLY improved that house, and because the windows up there could be opened, I figured out exactly how much airflow it took to drain the heat off in the summer (surprisingly low) and it cooled my house quite a lot in the New Mexico heat. And I LOVED the light! My house plan has clerestory light, designed to light up the whole house. both me and my mom love the light.

:D
 
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I think if you design your home to suit a potential buyer, you may finish up with a mundane home.
I always design what I want, and I have never found it an issue.
So I have bright colours, arabian wind towers to pull air through the house.
I am using mirrors on a job right now to collect light from the south in Australia, the north in North America and Europe.
Inside another tall wind tower.

I have seen the separate airboxes above and below windows, they are great and with a non opening window, security if its a concern will be stronger.
 
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