While it may vary from one region to the next, it’s a known fact that together, heating and air conditioning make up the largest portion of residential energy costs. And for the most part, there is no way around it. Unless you live in a Mediterranean climate, keeping your house warm or cool at any given time of the year may be matter of survival. Roughly 2,000 Americans die from weather related causes every year, a number which would be much higher if it weren’t for our climate controlled homes. So heating and cooling are not things we can afford to skimp on.
Fortunately, there are ways to cut our energy bills, and they’re becoming more efficient and more affordable every year. Solar panels are one of the more obvious examples. Just this week, a Finnish research team announced that they had created a silicon solar chip with an efficiency of 22.1%, which is a 4% leap above current PV solar panels. You can rest assured that in the near future, you will have access to very cheap and efficient energy saving materials.
But is solar the only emerging energy technology out there? Surely, somebody in our innovative world is thinking outside the box, right?
Fortunately the answer is yes, and some of the energy saving products that are being developed these days are simply amazing. Take for instance, the Zero Energy Furniture program; a research group from France. They’ve developed a table that by its mere presence in your home, could slash your energy costs.
This innocuous piece of furniture (which wouldn’t look out of place in most homes), doesn’t require any electricity or moving parts to accomplish this feat. It relies on what are known as phase change materials (PCM). Beneath the table is a sheet of corrugated aluminum, and inside the aluminum is a PCM, which is a material the French team has yet to reveal.
When the temperature of the room rises above 71 degrees, the material begins to absorb heat. When it dips below 71 degrees, it hardens and releases the heat. The aluminum, being the excellent conductor of heat that it is, acts as the perfect medium between the PCM and the surrounding air. The team estimates that this table could reduce your heating costs by as much 60%, or your cooling costs by 30%, in whatever room you place it in.
While PCM’s are nothing new, this design places them in a convenient, unobtrusive design. The inventors of the table hope to have it in production later this year, so keep your eyes peeled for the release of the ZEF Climatic Table. With energy costs rising year after year, this may be just the thing you need to keep your budget balanced.