The rate of technological advancement is increasing exponentially in every industry, so it’s understandable that the same trend is happening in the HVAC sector. With smart gadgets making our homes more efficient and controllable, it’s only right that our heating and air conditioning systems also continue to become more advanced. Some of the technologies listed below are still in development, while some can already be purchased and installed in your home. With that said, here are 10 technologies that will change the way people use and benefit from their home HVAC systems:
1. Air Conditioning Units with Integrated Solar
A few startups are working on alternative air conditioning devices that use solar energy from integrated panels. Some can be supplemented by natural gas when there’s not enough solar energy available. Solar-powered A/C systems aren’t very popular yet, but they could provide an interesting A/C alternative for solar-powered homes within the next decade. At the moment, the most energy-efficient kind of A/C system would be an Energy Star-rated A/C unit plugged into a conventional solar panel system.
“The idea of an A/C unit that’s directly linked to an integrated solar array is interesting because it means that homeowners who don’t already have solar panels would be able to power their A/C with the sun,” said a representative at Semper Solaris, heating contractors. As one of California’s leading providers of solar and HVAC installations, Semper Solaris has played an integral role in the adoption of solar power heating and air conditioning in major cities like Los Angeles and San Diego – you can read more about this here.
2. Motion-Activated Air Conditioning
Imagine being able to walk into your home and the air conditioning automatically turns on? A team of engineers at MIT created a prototype for a design that does just that. There are rods that contain motion sensors mounted along the roof or in the desired location. When the motion sensor is triggered, the air conditioning turns on. There are also DIY tutorials that can teach you how to link motion sensors to all sorts of electronic gadgets, including thermostats. However, integrated motion sensor capability isn’t currently a popular feature in HVAC systems, but that could change over the next decade.
3. Ice-Powered A/C
This one sounds a bit outlandish and maybe even teetering on the border of science fiction, but there are some experimental ice-powered systems that have been able to cool a commercial building for up to six hours before conventional air conditioning has to kick in. The concept is relatively simple but may need some improvements before it can become a commercially viable alternative. Essentially, a large tank of ice is frozen overnight and then it cools the floor of the building until it melts. This kind of system could eventually be used as a supplement to conventional A/C units.
4. Smart Vents
Some companies are working on custom vents that contain sensors and can intelligently open or close depending on the user-controlled settings. Soon, you’ll be able to open and close the vents in your home through an app on your smartphone. Additionally, you’ll be able to choose the desired setting for air pressure, temperature, and other indoor air quality factors. For example, your home could sense that there’s smoke in the air, open all vents, and crank your HVAC system to exhaust all the air and replace it with fresh air. Then, if you were to burn something while cooking, you wouldn’t need to rush to open the windows to let the smoke out because your home would do it automatically within seconds through the vents.
5. Duel-Fuel Heat Pumps
Most conventional heat pumps are powered by either gas or electricity. Recently, a new kind of hybrid alternative called a duel-fuel heat pump has become available. This kind of heat pump strategically uses a combination of gas and fuel to maximize efficiency. At low temperatures, the heat pump is powered by gas. When the temperature rises above 35 degrees, the pump is powered by electricity. Currently, these systems are relatively expensive and haven’t been widely adopted, but they could become the new standard by 2030.
6. Smart Homes
Smart homes aren’t extremely new, but they aren’t ubiquitous yet either. Analysts speculate that by 2035, more than half of all homes will be smart homes. These houses are equipped with smart thermostats, vents, heating and cooling systems, windows, and other components that will be able to precisely control the home’s environment without requiring ongoing input from the inhabitants.
7. Geothermal Heat Pumps
The first geothermal heat pumps were invented in the 1940s, so the technology isn’t new. However, there have been substantial enhancements in the efficiency and efficacy of geothermal heat pumps in recent years. Additionally, many homeowners are waking up to the movement of going green and are therefore looking for environmentally friendly heating alternatives. As this trend continues, it’s likely that we’ll see an increase in the number of homes that have geothermal heating.
8. 3D Printed Air Conditioners
Imagine being able to print a new air conditioner at your home? That sounds ridiculously far-fetched, but so does printing an entire house with a 3D printer, and yet that can be done as well. At the moment, this has only been a niche concept, but it stands to reason that one day people will be able to print just about any kind of device, or at least the individual components that are needed to assemble it.
9. Hot Water Recirculators
Think about how long you have to let the water run while you wait for it to heat up each time. Even if you have a powerful water heater that heats the water quickly, there’s usually at least some period of time during which you’re letting water pour down the drain while waiting for it to heat up. Some startups have started working on recirculators that will capture the water you would otherwise waste and recirculate it back into your home’s hot water heater. You’d be able to control this feature on-command, setting the amount of time it will stay active based on how long it typically takes your heater to heat up. This might seem like a minor issue, but experts estimate that every year, the average household wastes more than 10,000 gallons just waiting for water to heat up.
10. Capturing Heat from Electrical Devices
This won’t be very useful on a residential level, but commercially it could become useful in large data centers or other facilities that host many active electronic devices. Essentially, with this new technology, the heat emitted from the electronic devices can be captured, stored, and redistributed.
The Importance of Keeping Your HVAC System Up-to-Date
Upgrading your HVAC system and using the technologies listed above might not seem like an urgent matter, but it’s something you should definitely keep in mind, particularly if your HVAC system is more than 10 years old. This kind of upgrade makes your home more comfortable, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly. Furthermore, it makes your property more appealing to the real estate market, as many buyers are now picky about energy efficiency in today’s eco-conscious and financially savvy world.