As we delve into the hotter months of summer, you've probably already started turning down your air conditioning thermostat to a comfortable temperature so that you aren't sweating around the house or at your workplace.
This comfort comes at a cost though. Running your air conditioning adds to the monthly electricity bill and that's why modern science is coming up with ways to help insulate our homes better and keep the cooler air in while keeping the warmer air out.
One of the most recent discoveries that could impact this niche is a new breakthrough technology that scientists out of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) are saying could be used to actually keep the roof surface itself cooler than all of the air around it; even when the sun is shining right on it.
"We demonstrate for the first time how to make a roof colder than the air temperature around it, even under the most intense summer conditions," says Professor Geoff Smith of UTS.
The new material successfully accomplishes this task by harnessing the power of reflection. Below, Dr. Angle Gentle of UTS holds up a piece of the new material created against a typical roofing material:
Instead of absorbing light and keeping the heat energy stored up in the roofing material, this new material actually reflects so much light that only about 3% of light shining onto it is actually absorbed. In turn, you get a much cooler surface.
Testing with thermal imaging displayed that the new material could stay 11 or more degrees Celsius cooler than the surrounding roofing materials while under the sun.
So how does it work? - It is actually a layer of silver combined with layers of polyester. The polyester works as an insulator, while the silver works to deflect most of the light back from where it came. UTS is calling it a "coated polymer stack."
The best part of all this is that the materials used to make the stack are said to be fairly cheap and easy to obtain, so it wouldn't be difficult for this technology to make its way to the general housing market and to commercial buildings all around the world; especially in the hotter locations. The UTS scientists hope to bring the special material to the mass market in the future.
The end result would not only benefit house owners that want to keep the air conditioning costs down, but would also benefit the power supply of large towns and cities that have to keep up with the high demands for power in the hotter summer months.