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Serious question about replacing windows with TVs (in cold climates)

jonnycowboy | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

Reading Martin’s many comments and articles about the limits of “common sense” applied to green building, (ie: after sealing, there is a cost/benefit to be done between more insulation and adding solar panels) I was thinking about applying this even further to windows themselves, especially in cold climates (4500+ HDD).

If you take a 6″ foam or double-stud wall, there is no window out there that can match those insulation values. A 48″-50″ TV will put out about 80-90W and only cost 300-400$ (the cheap ones). The more expensive OLED, at low brightness can draw as low as 25W. These TVs are about 48″ wide x 28″ high.

They would be programmed to show any scene, or outside the home, etc…

Obviously this would be limited to areas where they would not be used all the time (and in cold climates would not replace the south-facing windows but they could be used in bedrooms (other than escape provisions), hallways, celestory windows, etc and generally to limit openings.

Any thoughts? Has anybody done the cost comparison between triple-pane Passivhaus-grade windows and these low-cost TVs (aka efficient space heaters).


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  1. AlanB4 | | #1

    It certainly can be done, but you will find yourself going crazy

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    You seem to misunderstand the functions of windows. These functions are multiple:

    1. Windows provide ventilation when the outdoor air is pleasant.

    2. Windows allow sunlight to enter the room. Sunlight is pleasant, and helps provide free heat in winter.

    3. Windows provide an escape route in an emergency.

    4. Windows allow occupants to see what's happening outdoors.

    Your TV-plus-closed-circuit-camera idea only addresses one of these four functions -- and does it poorly. Moreover, your TV will prevent desirable solar heat gain during the winter, and will introduce unwanted heat during the summer.

    If you talk to prisoners who have spent days in a cell without a window, you'll understand why Alan brought up the problem of going crazy. These prisoners will tell you that a TV is no substitute for a window.

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