The green-thumbed homeowner eschews many comforts in order to reduce their carbon footprint by a few sizes. Typically, foremost among these conveniences is a home’s heating and air conditioning, which can be extraordinarily wasteful on energy. Over my two decades of experience with Griffith Energy Services, I’ve met consumers who are increasingly wary of wasting energy, and desire more efficient and eco-friendly equipment for their systems.
Meanwhile, many have skirted installing or using their system altogether. However, advances in HVAC technology have made this sacrifice optional. No matter one’s perspective on the environment, it is clear that those in the HVAC industry are making responsibility towards the environment through energy efficiency a central role in innovation. Here are three cutting-edge forms of HVAC equipment that can provide comfort that comes at a vastly reduced impact to our environment (and our energy bills!):
1. Geothermal heat pumps
An increasingly popular option, geothermal heat pumps are an ingenious method of delivering warmth and coolness to your home by taking it from the earth below our feet with piping. While installation is definitely more labor intensive and costly (especially laying down the ground piping), geothermal pumps use up to 72 percent less electricity than traditional air conditioners for residential homes.
The most efficient gas furnace delivers at 98.5% efficiency; geothermal supplies energy at 400%. They last five years longer than a typical furnace as well. Considering energy savings and possible tax credits on having them installed, it’s an excellent long-term investment. If you’re in an area where you can receive geothermal pumps, there are few better alternatives.
2. Chilled beams
Whereas geothermal is an ideal residential heat exchange technology, chilled beams are at the tip of the cutting-edge for large commercial buildings. In a chilled beam system, pipes carry water through the ceilings of a facility. The beam cools surrounding air, which pushes it down and sends warmer air upwards.
A building usually requires a more minimal duct network to function with chilled beam, making it a cheaper installation. And after installation, businesses save 20% on their energy costs on average. They’re practically noiseless, rarely require maintenance, and don’t produce forced airflow – meaning it impacts indoor humidity less harshly. (Unfortunately, one caveat is that it’s highly advised to not use this technology in intensely humid areas; it could produce indoor raining, which is both intriguing and catastrophic.)
3. Solar-powered air conditioning
While certainly not a new technology, there have been incredible advances in the efficiency and affordability of solar. Being that the only way to take a house’s air conditioner completely off the grid is by going solar, this may be the best choice for those who want to take as many steps as they can towards carbon neutrality. In this technology, panels with solar thermal collectors charge with sunlight. Although solar-powered air conditioners necessitate extensive home redesign for efficiency and usually aren’t as powerful as other varieties, continued innovation may make it standard in years to come to finally replace the energy wasted through traditional air conditioning.
About the author: Jason Wall has been an HVAC technician with Griffith Energy for more than 23 years. He enjoys writing tips and guides about the industry for consumers and professionals in the field alike. When not working or writing, he enjoys spending time with his family and keeping up with professional baseball.