You’re constantly looking for ways to step up efficiency in your home. You turn off all the lights even though you can barely see what you’re doing. You keep the temperature as high as you can bear to avoid using your air conditioner. Nobody likes to pay more than necessary for their utility bills, but many homeowners in Columbia, Maryland, do pay more than they need to. Fortunately, the HVAC industry is working tirelessly to bring more efficient technology to homes everywhere.
But isn’t more efficient technology more expensive? Doesn’t efficient technology cost more to manufacture, so you’ll have to pay more for it? While that may be true in some circumstances, efficient technology allows you to spend less money on monthly bills. In the end, efficient technology will pay itself off and leave you with more money in savings. Whether it’s through new means of heating and cooling or bringing smart technology to your home, the HVAC industry is always improving the efficiency of comfort. Here are five ways the HVAC industry is improving efficiency.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling
Central heating and air isn’t the only kind of temperature control out there. Heat pumps, for example, are alternatives that have grown in popularity over the past several years. Rather than heating or cooling air on its own, which requires more energy, a heat pump moves air in between your home and a source (air or ground) like a refrigerator does. Many heat pumps are air-sourced and transfer heat between your home and the air outside. An even more efficient alternative, however, is the geothermal heat pump.
No matter what technology we produce, we just can’t seem to build anything as efficient as Mother Nature. Geothermal heat pumps draw on that efficiency to heat and cool homes. Rather than transferring heat between the building and the air outside, heat is transferred with the soil a few feet beneath the surface of the ground. This soil remains a relatively constant temperature (generally between 50 and 60 degrees) year-long. In the summer, heat from your home is transferred to the earth, and the refrigerant is cooled in the cooler soil. In winter, heat is drawn from the ground and brought into your home.
The efficiency of a geothermal heating and cooling system comes from the fact that it doesn’t have to act as its own source of heat or cold. Having a reliable source in the soil means results in less wasted energy. Geothermal systems also require less maintenance, another benefit of improving technology.
Ductless (or Mini-Split) Systems
There are plenty of perks that come along with your conventional heating and cooling system. But while duct networks can reliably distribute air throughout your home, they can also be a source of energy loss. In fact, Energy Star estimates that about 20 to 30 percent of air is lost somewhere between the system and your living space. Air escapes through holes, leaks, and gaps between poorly connected ducts. And fixing a duct system is not a cheap task.
Enter the ductless heating and cooling system. This method of temperature control eliminates the duct network and its inherent issues. Instead of using ducts to distribute air, refrigerant is pumped directly into the air handler, where fans blow heated or cooled air directly into a room. Since you don’t have to worry about connecting them to ducts, air handlers can also be placed just about anywhere in a room (as well as kept out of rooms that may not need constant temperature control), and different rooms can be kept at different temperatures.
By eliminating ducts, preventing air from being wasted in underused rooms, and allowing you to personalize your temperature control, ductless systems have become some of the most efficient heating and cooling methods in the industry.
Every living space can be measured and analyzed to produce an “HVAC load.” These loads refer to the space that an HVAC system is required to heat or cool. Systems vary in size, so they can meet the needs of different load requirements. Unfortunately, many HVAC systems are installed in buildings without much thought to load requirements. As a result, these oversized or undersized systems waste energy and money.
To combat issues like this, our friends at Trane have developed specialized energy-analysis software that can accurately project the most energy-efficient HVAC system for a particular space. This software is used before an HVAC system is installed in a newly constructed building and prior to an original system being replaced.
Energy-analysis software helps architects and engineers find the right equipment for the space, and it ensures that your heating and cooling will be efficient before you ever move in. This means that, like a well-fitting outfit, the new HVAC system will be perfectly fitted to the needs of the building, ensuring minimal energy loss.
Nowadays, your home can be as smart as your cellphone. When implemented in your home, this smart technology can bring the same efficiency and convenience to your life that your smartphone does. And the current pinnacle of HVAC smart home technology is the smart thermostat.
Smart thermostats operate much like programmable thermostat by allowing you to program different temperatures for your home at various times of day based on your routines. For example, during warmer days this spring, while you’re away at work, you won’t need to keep your home as cool as you would when you’re relaxing on the weekends. Programmable thermostat technology allows you to personalize how and when your home is heated or cooled.
Smart thermostats take that technology to the next level by adding Wi-Fi connectivity and other smart features. A smart thermostat can learn your habits and preferred temperatures at different times of day, and adjust accordingly for maximum efficiency. Many smart thermostats will send you energy-diagnostic reports that show you where you’re wasting energy. You can also connect to your smart thermostat through your smartphone, allowing you to adjust temperature and humidity from the convenience of your phone.
What does indoor air quality have to do with HVAC efficiency? If you’re not especially susceptible to allergies, shouldn’t you devote your time and money to other efficient technology? While the focus of air cleaners may not be on raising energy efficiency, they effectively clean your air, and cleaner air also means greater efficiency.
Dust, dirt, and other particles get caught in ducts and build up on and around your system. Believe it or not, these little particles increase strain on the system and make it more difficult for your HVAC to keep your home comfortable. Every HVAC system comes with conventional filters, but while these filters are better than nothing, they allow many particles to pass through, and they clog quickly.
Air cleaners, on the other hand, contain HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters that are far more efficient at catching particles. HEPA filters have a finer mesh that still allows air to pass through while catching harmful and efficiency-reducing particles. Most air cleaners, once they’ve caught particles, neutralize pathogens by sending electrical charges through the filter. The cleaner destroys the particles, preventing them from ever bothering you or reducing system efficiency again.
Since they catch more particles, air cleaners prevent the build-up around your home and HVAC system that can result in energy reduction. Plus, even if it seems that your indoor air quality doesn’t drastically reduce efficiency, the negative health effects (headaches, skin irritation, coughing, sneezing, congestion, and even illness) of poor indoor air quality can lead to higher medical bills and lost time at work — two expenses to avoid.
The HVAC industry will continue to work toward greater efficiency with new technologies. In addition to efficient systems, the industry is also constantly improving maintenance and other HVAC services. Don’t miss out on all the energy-efficient opportunities offered by the HVAC industry. And remember, while some of these technological advances may lead to higher installation costs, the energy and money they save will return to you before long. To get started increasing the energy efficiency in your home, call Griffith Energy Services today at 888-474-3391.
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