What if there were a way to change how warm or cool you felt by adjusting your own clothing rather than your heating boiler or air conditioner?
With a new type of temperature-regulating fabric — accurately called “smart fabric” — this may actually become a possibility.
According to a July 17 Product, Design and Development article, the fabric was recently developed by engineers at the University of California, San Diego, with a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency.
How does it work? The cloth, called ATTACH (Adaptive Textiles Technology with Active Cooling and Heating), adjusts how thick or thin it is in response to the surrounding temperature. The cloth is made from a web of polymers that expands in cooler temperatures and contracts in warmer temperatures. This thermo-electric action is powered by thin, flexible batteries; in the future, batteries that draw power from human sweat could become a possibility for powering this fabric. As a result, the wearer’s skin is kept at a comfortable 93 degrees Fahrenheit.
By keeping our skin temperature regulated, project leader Joseph Wang said the fabric could cut our average heating and cooling costs by as much as 15%. When air conditioning alone costs homeowners $11 billion each year, this can add up to major savings.
Additionally, by taking more measures to cut down on their energy use such as replacing old air conditioners with more energy-efficient units, the two out of three U.S. homes with air conditioning could cut the cost of cooling their homes by another 20% to 50%.
With new technologies like the ATTACH fabric, it could soon become less expensive than ever before to stay cool throughout the summer.
What are your thoughts on the “smart fabric” concept? Have any other questions about keeping your air conditioning and furnace in good repair with cooling and heating services? Let us know by leaving a comment below.