Heating and cooling represent around 65% of a building’s energy consumption. Strategies around heating and cooling play a major role in a building’s energy efficiency plan. Innovations in HVAC technology are providing solutions that can reduce energy consumption significantly and some equipment can also reduce the overall carbon footprint of the building.
New construction buildings are being designed to use minimal energy for heating and cooling. Air sealing and insulation practices are tightening the thermal envelope. Specialized building materials allow for more constant temperatures in interior spaces. The latest in duct materials are installed to enhance moisture management and duct layout design keeps the ductwork within air-conditioned space to prevent heating/cooling loss. These features in the building itself help the HVAC run less frequently which results in less energy consumption. But specific technology in the units themselves has reduced the energy consumption of the unit significantly.
Here is a list of some interesting technology in the HVAC industry.
HVAC Innovations to Look for:
- Energy Data Analysis Software: Sophisticated analysis software that ingests relevant energy usage data, analyzes it to find patterns and transforms it into actionable insights has been developed. Energy modeling software is used to anticipate energy usage based on the building’s unique specifications.
- Sensor Enhanced Vents: The sensor enhanced vent replaces the traditional vent with vents that open or close based on data gathered from the sensors. The sensors track, pressure and humidity and can be set to provide desired levels that can be unique to different rooms or zones.
- Ice cooling: Ice storage used in conjunction with conventional chilling methods reduces total net energy consumption.
- Dual Fuel Heat Pump: The introduction of the dual fuel heat pump allows cooler climate zones to take advantage of the heat pump efficiency during above freezing temperatures and switch to gas during low temp periods to maximize efficiency.
- Smart Thermostats: Smart thermostats improve energy efficiency over programmable thermostats by including sensors and wi-fi capability that allow more precise control.
- Smart HVAC Systems: Automation in an HVAC system can predict when maintenance is needed, connect with occupancy sensors to determine space usage, and detect temperature fluctuations from room to room. CO2 sensors can detect high levels of CO2 and provide a flow of fresh air to a designated space. Diagnostics are better due to data provided by the HVAC computer system.
- Remote Monitoring: Electronic monitoring systems that provide real-time system status, usage, failure alerts, efficiency data and repair solutions that cut down on emergency calls and ensure systems operate at peak efficiency.
- R410a Refrigerant: R22 refrigerant being phased out by the EPA and will not be found in new systems. New refrigerants, such as R410a, is a hydro-flourocarbon (HFC) which does not hurt the ozone layer and absorbs and releases heat better, uses synthetic oil and can work at higher pressure making the whole unit more efficient.
- Variable-speed Fans: Variable-speed fans run at lower speeds on cooler days and only on high speed when needed to save on energy usage.
- Dual-stage Compressors: The dual-stage compressor can run at two settings, high for warmer days and low for mild temperature days. This keeps temperatures closer to the thermostat setting and saves big on energy. The system never works harder than it needs to.
- Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF): VRF technology allows for varying degrees of cooling to certain areas, reducing energy consumption. VRFs use variable motor speed and variable refrigerant flow to run at the precise capacity needed for current conditions. VRF is highly efficient, great at controlling humidity and extremely quiet.
- Compressors with Scroll Technology: Scroll compressors are inexpensive to produce and have a slightly higher efficiency than reciprocating compressors. They are known for operating more smoothly, quietly, and reliably.
- Ductwork Advances: Modern ductwork includes fiberglass-lined fiberboard ducts which are quieter and allow less leakage. It is flexible which makes it easier to create bends in tight spaces. A greener option duct wrap made from recycled denim that insulates and prevents moisture buildup is also available.
- Ductless Mini-splits: Ductless mini-splits can be heating/cooling or cooling only and allow for easy, flexible installation. Increased cost savings are achieved because no duct system is required.
Some of the solutions listed above will be just right for the project you are planning. Albireo Energy can help you design and implement the best one for your building spaces and occupant experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Albireo who have the depth of knowledge to guide you through HVAC design and installation projects.