As often as certain innovations like predictive text makes people want to pull their hair out when its prediction isn't so accurate, innovate technology undeniably improves and simplifies our lives for the better.
Homeowners in Venice, Florida and around the world have some more innovation to look forward to when it comes to HVAC technology making life more comfortable, simple, and efficient. While some of these are still in the design phase, others are ready for you to apply to your home today. Let's explore some:
Ice-Powered Air Conditioning
Avid campers who've set a fan over an open ice cooler probably already know the premise behind the ice-powered AC unit.
The ice-powered AC takes the premise of that old camping trick to a new dimension as a possible way to heat and cool entire buildings. The technology still has a quite a long road ahead before it can apply sole, long-term, consistent cooling capabilities, but the initial test results of the Ice Bear by a Cali-based company are quite promising.
The Ice Bear system freezes water in a tank, which is an overnight process. The next day, the system uses this frozen water to help cool a building. Testing thus far in commercial buildings have shown about six hours worth of cooling time before the building's traditional commercial unit kicked in to maintain the desired temp.
Bottom line: It's a promising application still working out design flaws and limited capabilities.
Thermally Driven Air Conditioning
This design has already been implemented in several foreign settings, but it's not yet something widely available through mass production.
Chromasun, an Aussie company, has been successful at producing these thermally driven air conditioning units. They're hailed as a low-cost alternative to their traditional electrical counterparts.
Solar energy is the premise behind the design. When solar energy isn't available or depleted, then natural gas component kicks in and takes over to power the unit.
Double-chiller designs eliminate the need for electricity completely and have the most cooling power of all the thermally-driven designs thus far.
Bottom line: These are highly effective and efficient systems, but finding them may be an issue. It will likely be years before the technology becomes wide spread and mass produced in the U.S. and before installers and HVAC technicians become proficient with the technology.
Movement-Activated Air Conditioning
Have you noticed a trend? Air conditioner systems leave a lot of room for innovation and evolution.
So far, you've seen engineers taking the mechanics of the AC apart to improve it. But, what about just making the existing mechanics as efficient as possible by changing the design, or rather how the design is applied?
That's exactly what MIT engineer students did with the movement-activated air conditioning unit.
This design features aluminum rods being hung from the building's ceiling. Each rod is lined with sensors that communicate with the AC unit. Movement within the building activates the sensors to signal to the AC unit that people are present and it needs to turn itself on; when people aren't present, then the unit knows it can stay off because it's not needed.
Simple, smart right? Makes you wonder why it's just now being thought about as a way for homeowners and businesses to reduce energy and electric bills.
Bottom line: It's an ingenious application that's likely to be one of many future ways to reduce energy costs through need-only design capabilities.
3-D Printed Air Conditioners
No need for foil hats and beta ray guns just yet. The idea of 3-D printed AC units may seem more sci-fi than reality, but the fact is that it's an idea being toyed with more and more as 3-D printing has become more advanced in an array of real world applications.
Emerging Objects is a company that's already successfully used 3-D printing to create a brick that draws moisture from a moderate temp area to cool it.
Bottom line: 3-D printed air conditioners are just a novel idea at the moment. To say this application may hit stores tomorrow, would be akin to someone having promised a smart phone after the first "bag" mobile phone hit. The technology still has a long, long road ahead before it reaches application for AC units.
On-Demand Hot Water Recirculator
A Rhode Island company has successfully designed a pump that's "on command" in working with a building's water lines.
What does this do? It saves water. When activated, it basically allows cool water to be circulated back to the water heater. It's an engineering solution to the amount of water being needlessly wasted. As the average home waits for water to be warmed, it wastes around 12,000 gallons per year.
Bottom line: From efficiency washing machines and dishwashers, we've seen such eco-friendly measures gain the public's seal of approval and the U.S. government incentivizing such measures. The AC recirculating technology is just the next logical eco-friendly step to make future homes as waste not, want not as possible.
We first saw the Ecovent debut at technology expos in 2015, and many viewed it as the star tech of the show. The premise is sensor-enhanced ventilation.
The Ecovent replaces traditional wall, floor and ceiling vents with sensor-driven vents capable of monitoring facets like air quality, temperature, and air pressure.
Users connect their smartphones to the Ecovent system via an app to monitor the above features and enable precise temp control on a room-by-room level. So, instead of simply being able to remotely control your unit coming on and off, you can exactly control which areas within the home or building you want to be cooled or heated and which you don't.
Bottom line: This is the type of controlled, comprehensive heating and cooling remote capabilities that consumers want. The Ecovent is already on the market for public consumption.
Computer Heating Capabilities
Laptop users that utilize their laptops for its name sake, that is put it in their laps, have likely felt just how hot they can get after just a couple hours of usage. Why waste energy you're already creating? What if that energy via heat could be harnessed?
Founder of Project Exergy, Lawrence Orsini, has been looking into just that as he is testing how efficiently computers generate heat and how that heat could be applied to power a heating system for the home.
Bottom line: It's the same basic idea here as power generated from water or power generated from riding a bike. The difference is in the potential power and the amount of the source. Big bodies of water, for example, produce big amounts of energy, making it relatively easy to harness and apply that power. It's yet to be determined what exactly can be done with the comparative minuscule amount of heat from a computer. The verdict is still out as to whether or not this idea has a practical application.
Dual-Fuel Heat Pumps
By using two fuel sources, which are usually an electric heat pump and a gas furnace, the idea is that these heat pumps provide a maximum comfort level with more efficiency. Gas heat is used at low temps to maximize energy. Electricity is used when temps are 36 and above.
Bottom line: These are already on the market. Dual-fuel pumps are more costly to install than a traditional pump system. However, those costs are recouped in energy costs within the first few years of using the system.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
A geothermal heat pump is another option to lower energy costs. These pumps utilize energy from the earth. An underground pipe absorbs the earth's natural heat and delivers it to the home for heating purposes. Likewise, when the home needs to be cooled, the pump extracts warmth from the home. Of note, geothermal heat pumps can also provide hot water to the home, which further reduces your energy costs.
Bottom line: These pumps have been available since the early 1940s. Yet, their innovative roles have mostly been overlooked due to their higher upfront costs. Today, more consumers are realizing that the upfront investment is worth the long-term energy costs savings.
Fully Automated Homes
American architect firm Specht Harpman built a full-functioning automated home that they dubbed as the ZeroHouse. It comfortably houses up to four adults. Fully automated means that the home is self-sustaining and functions independent of any outside sources of energy. Yep, no electric bill here. Everything from waste disposal to water are automated.
Bottom line: While gathering all the necessary minds, supplies, materials, and funds to build a fully-automated home isn't something widely available to the average Joe just yet, the technological advancements finding their way into the mainstream market and the various disciplines becoming more attune to societies desire for eco-friendly solutions is promising to a wider availability of such total eco concepts.
While you await your fully automated home...
You can always make your home as smart as possible.
Everyday items, from our transportation and appliances to our entertainment and phones, are getting smarter to provide function without sacrifice to the environment and our finances. Technology is also affording us comfort, efficiency, and simplicity through connectivity.
A simple push of a button on your mobile device or laptop can remotely control anything from the lighting, HVAC, security, surveillance, to entertainment. And, many of these applications work congruently to provide you a comprehensive approach to manage your home while you're away from it.
Bottom line: These innovations exist all around consumers, but it's the delivery and service industry who've often been slow on the uptake. As HVAC engineers and designers, for example, have been churning out innovative products for decades, the retailers and service industry have predominantly stuck with only knowing and promoting conventional options. Today, there's a higher consumer demand for these innovative products that make life easier, more efficient, and more comfortable. And, the delivery and service industry are finally following suit to meet that demand.
In closing, you've seen that some HVAC technology ideas are still on the drawing table, some are working out kinks, some haven't yet caught a footing for mass market production and consumption, and some are just awaiting you to contact a professional to install it.
If you're interested in learning more about any of these high-tech HVAC systems or other future HVAC technology applications coming to the Venice, Florida area, then call Mahle Cool Air & Heating today.