Automated Shading Solutions
Seven billion people out there need natural resources to maintain differing levels of lifestyles – from the poor man’s use of coal to the rich man’s use of unlimited energy – it all boils down to burning fuel and thereby overloading the atmosphere with untenable amounts of carbon dioxide that is depleting the ozone layer and causing catastrophic climate change. And every individual is responsible for this and is, therefore, accountable in adopting lifestyles that ensure sustainable living to leave a legacy of a cleaner and greener world for the coming generations. This responsibility is imminent, and the Obama administration seeks to electrify a new mandate that seeks, through executive order, to implement a plan for federal sustainability in the next decade.
Water and electricity are precious resources that need to be used intelligently. Wisely. The hour of the need is to ventilate homes, reducing the load on the HVAC system so that it works at only a third of its capacity. The use of dimmers and low-flow faucets and shower heads will ensure that water is not needlessly wasted.
Automated Home Systems
For most people, automation means using a remote to power a TV/AV system on and off. An integrated home automation system ensures that daylight is harvested to the maximum so that electric lighting is used only when essential. Low-wattage LED or CFL bulbs ensure that a home is well lit at night; maximizing its usage through spotlighting rather than overhead lighting makes for better task efficiency and better interior appeal. Synced automated systems powered by low-voltage motors that do not raise power consumption makes economic, and therefore, green sense.
A house that is built to optimize daylight feels more inviting has healthy, cheerful occupants free of seasonal affective disorders, and best of all consumes less energy. Daylight can be categorized as
Direct sunlight – bright hot and cheerful but causes glare and unwanted heat gain if it’s not controlled and converted to ambient light. Bright light creates dark shadows.
Ambient sunlight – direct sunlight that reflects off walls, ceilings, floor and diffuses with a soft muted glow that’s ideal for viewing and general eye comfort. Too little ambient light makes task performance difficult.
Different rooms have varied levels of daylight requirements – a study and kitchen will require loads of ambient light, reaching all corners for good visibility, while bedrooms and living rooms will require a little less sunlight….all depending what use rooms are put to. To my mind, bathrooms need a load of direct sunlight for its obvious disinfecting and evaporating qualities that stem the growth of bacteria and fungi. Unfortunately, space constraints often lead to homes or apartments that are built with little or no window space in bathrooms. But today, tube sky lighting (a sun tunnel that captures sunlight at the roof and delivers it inside a home through reflective interior surfaces and refractive lenses) is an option that could be used in such instances.
Using Venetian blinds is thought to be one of the most effective measures for directing and controlling daylight – its vanes can be turned upwards to direct the harsh sunlight to the ceiling, from where it is diffused into harmless ambient light. Using layered and light filtering window dressings also reduce the effect of the harsh sun, be it summer or winter, blocking the UV rays from their destructive trajectory.
However, using dynamic systems that maximize the use of natural light in tandem with electric light enables a lowered consumption of electricity. Using automated shading and lighting enabled with sensors and timers makes great economic sense in making the best of daylight and its warmth. The initial cost of motorization can be made up in reduced electricity bills before you can say Jack. In addition, many window shading materials are GreenGuard and Oeko-Tex certified, which means that harmful chemicals released by newly manufactured materials are kept at levels that cause no harm and are manufactured responsibly so that the environment is not adversely affected. And they are FR rated, dispelling myths that window dressings are fire hazards.
Harnessing Light and Protecting Privacy
Most window shadings are automated today, be it slated or panel shading; in the case of the latter, only the slats are automated to allow control of the light streaming in. Privacy and security are also factors consumers consider before they settle on window treatments. When owners are not in residence, window shades can be programmed, in tandem with lighting, to raise and lower to a pre-set schedule that mimics occupancy, while syncing with dimming and brightening lights.
Some of the best automated options available on the market today are –
Motorized exterior solar shades from Graber are the best options to deflecting the sun before it hits a glass surface. Interior solar shades with reflective window facing surfaces also work as a high performance, solar heat gain deflection solution. In winter, the use of dark colored solar fabric absorbs heat and keeps it inside, reducing the load on the heaters considerably.
The Virtual Cord enabled Pleated-Cellular Shades, the latest collection from Graber, provides seamless efficiency in dealing with heat gain and insulation, powered by a noiseless, low-voltage, thru-shaft motor that assures owners cool interiors in summer, and toasty warm interiors in winter. The honeycomb structure of cellular shades, in single and double layers, ensures that the air trapped within its structure forms a barrier against heat gain from the windows and heat loss from within a room. The added benefit of incorporating two fabrics with different opacities on a single headrail, such as the DayNight Cellular shades, and two shade types on a single headrail such as the PerfectVue Shades provides better control of light and heat within a room.
The automated vanes of shutters and blinds from Norman can be timed to deflect the sun’s rays when it’s at its hottest, and to open optimally when the sun is watery to allow light and warmth in, in addition to being allowed to manually control the raising of blinds or opening of shutters to make the most of the sun’s energy. All at a touch. Remotely. Pledge to save the planet. Use automated shading solutions.