"The technology can help us reduce our reliance on conventional energy sources," said lead researcher Yi Cui from Stanford University in California. Cui and team developed lightweight, breathable mesh materials that are flexible enough to coat normal clothes.

When compared to regular clothing material, the special nanowire cloth trapped body heat far more effectively. Because the coatings are made out of conductive materials, they can also be actively warmed with an electricity source to further crank up the heat.

The researchers calculated that their thermal textiles could save about 1,000 kilowatt hours per person every year - that is about how much electricity an average US home consumes in one month. Scientists and policymakers the world over are trying to reduce the impact of indoor heating by improving insulation and construction materials to keep fuel-generated warmth inside. The paper appeared in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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