For those of you not actively involved in the HVAC or construction industry, the idea of technological advances in air conditioning and heating may sound like a completely dull topic. I mean, honestly…there haven’t been any real changes in air conditioning since the late 70s, right?
Wrong, my friends! There are actually some very cool innovations that have been developed in the past few years that have changed the way that HVAC technicians consider planning home heating and cooling systems. These innovations offer more control for the homeowner, allowing you to ensure that your home environment is as comfortable as it can possibly be. Check out some of the most popular advances below.
Ductless Air Conditioning
Ductless HVAC systems have been popular in Asian countries and Europe for many years now, so technically this isn’t a new technology, but they are starting to gain popularity in the US. These systems are very easy to install, are great for small spaces, and offer significant energy savings because of the lack of energy lost in the ducts of traditional systems. This technology isn’t for everyone though – as mentioned, ductless systems work best in small spaces, add-on rooms like sunrooms or other spaces that aren’t constantly occupied, or spaces where adding ductwork would be prohibitively expensive.
Programmable thermostats are all the rage at the moment, but systems like Nest add an additional feature by actually learning your habits in order to keep your home as comfortable as possible. By initially recording your temperature preferences and times at which you generally change the temperature, the system will automatically adjust the thermostat to your preferred settings without the hassle of ever having to program in temperatures and times on your own. Systems like Nest can also detect when you’re away from the home, allowing the HVAC system to automatically change temperatures to a more energy-efficient (and money saving) setting.
It’s not just the thermostats that are getting smarter – the HVAC systems themselves have started to incorporate smart features into the ductwork and vents, in order to make changes quickly that will lead to optimum efficiency and cost savings in your home. There are systems that integrate wi-fi, in order to monitor occupancy of rooms, and adjust airflow to the areas where people are currently working or relaxing. Other systems use new technologies to monitor humidity levels, and automatically use a humidifier or dehumidifier to keep your home comfortable year round (no more dry winter skin, which means a definite savings on lotion purchases). These units can also diagnose system problems quickly, making repairs easier.
Green Products – Environmental Protection, Major Savings
The great thing about environmentally friendly products is that they often mean big savings when it comes to energy costs. The downfall? Initial installation can be more expensive, so the savings come over time instead of immediately. But there are now many HVAC systems that operate much like hybrid vehicles, in that they use natural sources of energy (like solar, geothermal, or even ice in one case) part of the time, with traditional energy sources as a backup. In addition to these systems, other products have been developed to help with HVAC efficiency, like a duct insulation material made from recycled denim – it does the job without any of the irritation problems associated with regular fiberglass insulation and is still fire-resistant.
Rise in Construction = Rise in HVAC Innovation
What HVAC innovations will we see in the future? There are sure to be more unique solutions to come. Over the past few years, both the real estate and construction markets have continued to recover, meaning more new houses and more people installing heating and cooling systems. With all the technology at our fingertips, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where HVAC systems don’t change drastically, leading to cost-savings and more comfortable homes for us all.