What is known as Green HVAC goes far beyond the realm of ENERGY STAR appliances and systems. Recently-developed technologies are also helping property owners reduce their environmental impact and save money on heating and cooling bills.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
The U.S. Department of Energy promotes the use of geothermal heat pumps, which can deliver double the efficiencies of traditional air-source heat pumps. These efficient HVAC systems pull heat from beneath the Earth’s surface and transform it into energy. Advanced models even offer multi-speed compressors and variable fans, resulting in greater energy savings and comfort.
“Relative to air-source heat pumps, [geothermal and water-source heat pumps] are quieter, last longer, need little maintenance, and do not depend on the temperature of the outside air,” the DOE stated on its website.
Since its 2003 inception, the team at Ice Energy has sought to use thermal energy storage to transform inefficient HVAC systems into green energy. By 2005, the organization released its Ice Bear ice battery for commercial systems with its 95-percent peak load reduction and 2,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide saved annually by every unit.
Last year, Ice Energy released Ice Bear 20, which can be seamlessly integrated with HVAC systems in new or existing homes.
“The Ice Bear 20 is a uniquely cost-effective, reliable and green energy storage system that transforms residential AC load into a clean, flexible and responsive grid resource for utilities while providing cooling comfort for homeowners,” Mike Hopkins, CEO of Ice Energy, said in a press release. “It incorporates the same technology as our proven Ice Bear 30, with the added benefit of an integrated cooling and storage system. With Ice Bear 20s and Ice Bear 30s in place, almost any part of the grid with peak demand or solar over-generation issues can be reliably and cost-effectively addressed by utilities, all while reducing CO2 emissions.”
Thermally-driven Air Conditioning
An Australia company devised a low-cost alternative to conventional air-conditioning units that’s also eco-friendly. The thermally-driven AC unit is powered by solar energy that can be supplemented with natural gas. Specially-made solar panels generate enough power to drive a double-effect chiller, practically eliminating electricity costs.
Now, California-based Chromasun offers the Micro-Concentrator solar panel, which can also drive chillers. While typical solar panels don’t collect high enough temperatures to power double-effect chillers, MCT panels achieve such temperatures, cementing the usefulness of thermally-driven AC.
Energy Analysis Software
Software programs like Green Building Studio and Energy Gauge can now help property owners project the most energy-efficient and cost-saving HVAC systems for any space. Not only can the software help architects and engineers determine the appropriate equipment to use in their designs, but it can also project a building’s lifetime energy use when using various systems and calculate savings achieved with other non-HVAC energy efficiency improvements.
A zoned heating and cooling system breaks a home into different areas, each controlled by its own thermostat. The system increases comfort by regulating the temperature in various areas of a house to the occupant’s preference and reducing output in empty rooms.
Electronically-controlled dampers are paired with each thermostat to control the flow of air through a building’s ductwork. Each thermostat separately controls air flow through its assigned ducts.
An HVAC technician can even install zoning into many existing systems with the use of a zone control panel that communicates between thermostats and zoning dampers placed inside existing ductwork.
Building upon the zoning concept, smart technology now allows users to remotely control the temperature throughout areas of their house. Alea Air has recently launched its smart ventilation system, which is equipped with 11 sensors to allow homeowners the ability to control the temperature in every room of their house at any time and from anywhere.
Alea’s system is connected to the cloud and controlled by an app, so the technology can be constantly analyzing the temperature in each room throughout the day and automatically adjust air flow to regulate each individual space. Alea’s smart vents close in rooms needed less directed air, and open in rooms that need to cool.