Your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (or HVAC) system is a key part of how it protects you from the elements. With the ability to change temperatures inside comes insulation from extreme temperatures, making comfortable living possible in even some of the most adverse circumstances. As technology marches on, certain new inventions are added to the HVAC repertoire. Here are some of the most exciting and important.
Ice-Powered Air Conditioning
Keeping your cool when it’s hot outside is a costly proposition. Air conditioning requires a lot of energy to run, and there is not always a lot that can be done to defray that. Some new HVAC systems, however, are trying a revolutionary technology to change this equation: ice. These systems build up a large concentration of ice initially, then use the frozen substance to cool the air for a while, giving the main AC unit a rest. While this technology is cutting edge at the moment, the march of progress could put it in more homes sooner than you think.
Programmable and Smart Thermostats
Image via Flickr by Wesley Fryer
There has been a revolution in home appliance technology in recent years, and the humble thermostat has gone along for the ride. The programmable thermostat has been around for a while, allowing users to program in certain temperatures for certain times or days of the week. This lets you make sure the house is pleasant by the time you get home from work without paying to run the HVAC all day. Even newer smart thermostats connect to the internet to allow for long-range control of your climate system. You can set the temperature as you are getting in the car to drive home.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
Gas-based heat pumps are the industry standard, but they are not the best in terms of efficiency or cost. Running them for too long can rack up some pretty hefty bills at the end of the month. Instead, newer geothermal heat pumps can keep the heat flowing with only a fraction of the cost. Geothermal systems rely on the different temperatures below the surface of the Earth to generate their power. These systems work best in households with relatively little heat usage, so they are better in places with milder winters than in ones with harsher climates.
Variable Refrigerant Flow
Most houses take a one-size-fits-all approach to environmental control. You set a destination temperature for your entire space, and the system labors to make the entire space that temperature. This is wasteful if you are only using one room, or if people in different rooms have different temperature requirements at a given moment. The only alternative is to seal off the vents for unused rooms, rendering them vulnerable to unpleasant temperature extremes. Variable Refrigerant Flow lets an HVAC system register and regulate temperatures differently in different rooms. While the technology is in early stages, the days of individual rooms with centralized climate control is not far off.
Technological improvements mean improvements to appliances, and keeping abreast of those developments is a crucial part of being a homeowner. Learn about the future of HVACs, and decide how you want to participate in it.