Six New HVAC Technologies
December 2, 2013
Energy costs never seem to go anywhere but up. The largest energy expense of a home is the HVAC, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. New technology is helping to provide high indoor air quality, comfort and lower energy bills. At one time that seemed like an oxymoron. It is a reality. New technologies are being developed to make more energy efficient systems better and affordable.
Of course, insulating the home according to the revised Department of Energy, or DOE, standards will ensure you get the most from your new or existing system. Proper attic ventilation will also increase the ability of the HVAC system to heat or cool the home effectively.
For the highest indoor air quality, have the ducting system professionally cleaned on an annual basis. This removes mold, dirt, fungi or other debris from entering the home.
Here are six new technologies keeping homes cool today.
Passive dehumidification is a proven technology already saving businesses tens of thousands of dollars every year. Although there is no word on when the systems will be made for home use, it is most likely on its way.
It works by using a system of three evaporator coils. In the first coil, the air is moved over a coil filled with cooled refrigerant, just like a regular air conditioner. Condensation forms and drains to the outside. The heated refrigerant is sent to a reservoir for use in the last part of the system. In the second set of coils, the air is passed over coils filled with super-cooled refrigerant. Condensation forms a second time. The air is dry, but entirely too cold to go into the house. In the third part of the system, the air passes over the last coils filled with the warmed refrigerant from the first part. The heat warms the air to the desired temperature.
Since the air is dry, the thermostat can be set higher. Ceiling fans also help circulate the air, which feels cooler still.
The Desiccant Enhanced Evaporative Air Conditioner system uses membranes filled with liquid desiccant. A desiccant is a substance that removes moisture from the air. Examples of desiccants are rock salt, Damp Rid, Dri Z air and other products.
The desiccant removes moisture from the air, then sends the air over regular evaporator coils. The difference in the air temperature between the air and the super cool refrigerant in the coils causes condensation, which dries the air further. Dry air feels cooler, so the occupant can turn the thermostat up and save money.
This system works wonderfully well in hot and humid climates. In dry climates, evaporative coolers blow moist cool air into the home. In a humid climate, adding moisture has the opposite effect.
The best thing about the DEVAP system is that the desiccant uses no electricity at all. Savings are estimated at 80 to 90 percent.
Air conditioners remove the heat from the air through the evaporator coils. In basic physics, heat wants to move to cooler areas. The heat from the air moves into the cooled refrigerant. The warmed refrigerant normally travels to the condenser coils which are cooled by a fan in the outside unit.
In a heat recovery system, the heat from the warm refrigerant is used to heat water in the house. You pay for the energy to use the HVAC system and get two uses from it. The first is cool air, the second is hot water with no extra energy use.
This is the most inexpensive of the new technologies. It does not involve replacing the entire HVAC system.
Several zoning units are placed in the ducts and vents. These units have dampers similar to what a fireplace uses. Each unit has a thermometer attached to it. Sensors in the unit feed information to a central control panel. The user programs the desired temperature into the control panel; the system opens and closes the dampers as necessary.
Money is saved by heating or cooling only the rooms in use at the time.
Long a target of bad Sci-fi movies, home automation is no longer just a fantasy. It works by controlling the “Energy Triangle,” which is the HVAC system, artificial and natural lighting and other systems.
Everything is wired to a central computerized control system. Items include:
- · Entertainment system
- · HVAC system
- · Interior and exterior lights
- · Security system
- · Door and window locks
- · Kitchen appliances
These are just a few of the items that can be controlled by the system. If you are not at home, the system will turn on outside lights so you are safe getting to the house. If you lock your keys inside the home, or need to let a friend in, you can control the system from your cell phone, laptop or computer.
Digital thermostats save money by raising or lowering the temperature you program into the unit. If you go on vacation, you can adjust the settings from a cell phone or computer, depending on the unit.
The Nest learning thermostat is an innovation that is revolutionizing thermostat control. It has a computerized memory that learns what your favorite settings are throughout the day and week. It senses when you are not at home and sets an “away” temperature.
It monitors the outside temperature, indoor humidity and much, much more. You can also program it from your phone or laptop.
These systems work at their best with regular maintenance. Taking care of any leaks in the ducts, insulation and energy conservation will help produce the greatest savings.