HVAC systems are essential for comfort and health, but they’re not typically eco-friendly. Heating and cooling are often some of the biggest power consumers in a house, and more than 80% of energy sources worldwide are fossil fuels.
Thankfully, new technologies can help reduce emissions from these systems. Here are ten ways to make HVAC technology more sustainable.
1. Smart Thermostats
One of the easiest ways to reduce HVAC-related carbon footprints is to use smart thermostats. These devices use sensors to monitor temperature within your home more accurately, shutting things off when they’re not necessary.
Smart thermostats reduce energy waste by only using as much power as necessary. As a result, they lead to fewer fossil fuel emissions from heating and cooling.
2. Geothermal Heat Pumps
Changing how HVAC systems heat and cool buildings can help, too. Geothermal heat pumps are one of the most promising technologies in this area.
Geothermal heat pumps use constant underground temperatures to move fluid throughout pipes in a house to heat or cool it. They only use energy to move the liquid, not generate heat, so they can achieve 400% efficiency in some situations.
3. Solar Chimneys
Solar chimneys are another way to provide sustainable heating and cooling. This practice uses a hollow, chimney-like structure to use the sun’s rays to heat the air inside or force hot air out for cooling. This can provide ventilation with no energy consumption if the vents at the top aren’t electric.
4. Active Solar Power
When you hear “solar power,” you probably think of panels and not chimneys. These active systems can also play a crucial role in sustainable HVAC. Rooftop solar lets houses generate their own emissions-free electricity, which can power traditional HVAC systems without their traditional shortcomings.
5. Hydronic Heating and Cooling
Another promising sustainable HVAC technology is hydronic heating and cooling. Hydronic systems are like more sophisticated radiators, channeling hot or cold water through pipes under the floorboards to heat or cool the home. These systems are more energy-efficient than traditional HVAC and often use renewable power.
6. Spiral Ductwork
The types of materials in your HVAC system can make a big difference, too. Spiral ductwork allows for better airflow and fewer leaks than rectangular or circular ducts. They conserve more air as a result, leading to less power waste and fewer energy-related emissions.
7. Regular Filter Changes
Some simple behavioral changes can also make HVAC systems more sustainable. Your home’s ventilation systems contain filters to get rid of dust and other pollutants, which build up over time. Changing them regularly can help reduce energy consumption.
Dust builds up in these filters and restricts airflow in your vents. Consequently, they have to work harder to move air throughout the house, leading to unnecessarily high power consumption. Frequent filter changes prevent that.
8. DeVap Air Conditioning
Desiccant-enhanced evaporative (DeVap) air conditioning is a more complex green HVAC solution. DeVap air conditioners use desiccant, an absorbent substance, to cool and dehumidify air without the harsh chemicals of traditional AC units. That makes them far more eco-friendly, and they consume less electricity as a bonus.
9. Wind Power
Wind power can also help make HVAC more sustainable. Most wind farms use massive turbines to generate power, but smaller, rooftop-mounted systems can spin magnets to warm water in your house. These little turbines may not provide enough electricity for the home, but they can sufficiently heat it.
10. Energy Recovery Ventilation
Many heating systems waste energy because hot air escapes from inside the house when it’s cold outside. Energy recovery ventilation systems transfer that heat to cold air coming in from outside, reducing waste and using less power to warm the cool air.
These systems work in reverse to cool buildings in the summer. As they suck hot air in, the inside air cools it down to reduce cooling costs and energy.
HVAC Systems Must Become More Sustainable
HVAC systems are often big energy wasters in the home, but they don’t have to be. These 10 technologies and methods can make heating, cooling and ventilation more sustainable, providing comfort without harming the environment. These steps will become increasingly important as climate issues grow.
Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.