Consumers are increasingly demanding that the companies they do business with provide sustainable and green products, and HVAC businesses are no exception.
The HVAC industry as a whole has been at the forefront of offering more energy-efficient products and innovative solutions to homeowners for decades. What's different now is that consumer awareness of green and sustainable products is at an all-time high. This means that HVAC business owners need to be constantly aware of new HVAC technology, green and sustainable products to meet customer interest. By expanding their product offerings contractors can widen their customer base and improve their environmental footprint, all at the same time.
Green and more energy-efficient products may be more expensive, but research shows that 60% of consumers are willing to pay more for green and eco-friendly products. For contractors, however, this will mean spending time educating their customers about sustainability efforts. Keep in mind that while the demand is there, nearly three-quarters of consumers say they don’t know how to identify environmentally-friendly products.
Here is some of the green HVAC technology that’s ushering in the “greening” of the heating and cooling industry. You’ll be familiar with some of them while other technologies are being developed now.
Smart thermostats learn homeowner’s habits and can automatically adjust to personal preferences. Some models will provide notifications for maintenance, and automatically reduce energy use.
Smart thermostats are inexpensive upgrades to help homeowners and businesses save on energy.
A zoned HVAC system allows you to divide a home into multiple zones for heating and cooling to provide separate control of each zone. It can reduce energy usage by allowing homeowners to choose which areas to heat or cool and at what temperatures.
A Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system uses multiple air handlers as part of its zoned system and detects the requirements for each zone to control the amount of refrigerant flow to each air handler. This control allows it to run more efficiently and less frequently making it more energy-efficient. Green HVAC technology can also capture heat used during the cooling process and redirect it within the system.
Dual fuel heat pumps alternate between gas and electric power to provide heating and cooling. When temps are above 35 degrees, the heat pump draws air in and heats it using electricity. When the temps drop below 35, the heat pumps use gas for more energy-efficient heat. In hot weather, the heat pump reverses the refrigerant bringing cold air over the coils for cooling.
Geothermal heating has been around for more than 50 years, but it’s now getting a closer look by many consumers because of its eco-friendly and energy-efficient operation. With geothermal pipes in the ground, fluids in the piping draw heat from the ground and circulate it in your home.
When you need cool air, the heat pump pulls the heat out of the air, transfers it to the fluid, and circulates it in the ground, returning cool air into the home with the help of a refrigerant.
Ductless heat pumps can be used to provide climate control for specific rooms rather than heating or cooling an entire home and reducing overall energy use. Ductless units can work together by connecting multiple units and creating heating and cooling zones. 20% to 30% of the air traveling through ducts is lost to leaks according to the EPA’s Energy Star website. Eliminating ducts saves energy.
Quiet Duct Wrap from the Green Products Company is made from recycled denim fabric and renewal cotton to reduce heat loss or gain as air flows through ducts. It also has low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)
There’s even recyclable ductwork made of heavy-duty cardboard rather than metal. Treated so it’s fire-resistant and waterproof, triple-wall cardboard ducts require less insulation than sheet metal. GatorDuct is one company making these 100% recyclable ducts from sustainably managed forests.
A company called Ice Energy developed a new HVAC technology that uses a thermal battery that fills with water overnight and freezes it into ice. During daytime hours, the ice provides cooling to the air without needing a compressor. The Ice Bear claims a 95% decrease in energy and also reduced carbon emissions.
Not quite ready for the commercial market yet, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is testing what’s called a Desiccant-Enhanced Evaporative Air Conditioner (DeVap). Units use evaporation for cooling and liquefied desiccants to dehumidify the air. Prototypes use 90% less energy compared to traditional air conditioning units.
HVAC green technology may represent a new opportunity for HVAC companies. As customers become more aware of sustainability and request green products, contractors should make sure they are up to speed on the latest green HVAC technology.
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