French design practice Zero Energy Furniture has produced a "Climatic Table" that it says can decrease the cost of cooling a room by 30% and the cost of heating it by 60%.
The table has a solid oak top and a corrugated aluminium underside that contains a kind of wax that melts at 22°C.
The design makes use of wax’s latent heat to increase the table’s thermal mass, and thereby reduce the amount of energy needed to keep the temperature of the room at a comfortable level.
Jean-Sebastien Lagrange told Wired magazine: "We wanted to see if it was possible to address climate and energy issues on a furniture scale."
The use of phase-change materials as thermal "dampeners" has become more common in buildings over the past five years, and chemical companies including Dow and BASF have produced commercial substances for use in products such as ceiling tiles and plasterboard.
Some recent tests have suggested that their use can have significant benefits. In one, UK media regulator Ofcom fitted a meeting room in its London headquarters with phase-change ceiling tiles.
It was found that conventional meeting rooms required 257 hours of air-conditioning over a 45 day period, whereas the retrofitted room required 7.5 hours.
Zero Energy Furniture is looking to expand into lighting and other furniture. The Climatic Table is due to be in production later this year.
Images via Zero Energy Furniture