The Latest Advances in Home Cooling Systems and Energy Efficiency Upgrades
Home cooling is changing, and so are home cooling systems. If you’ve been looking into upgrading your home cooling system, you probably already know this, but you might be having trouble figuring out the best choice to meet your needs.
At Revise, Inc., we’re here to help. We’ve already helped hundreds of customers make the right choices to become more energy efficient with their home cooling, and we’re licensed contractors who are part of the Mass Save® program to help homeowners save money by becoming more energy efficient.
We also know what’s coming. There are plenty of advances being implemented when it comes to home cooling systems with more on the way. We can’t see exactly how the future of home cooling is going to play out, but we can tell you what’s coming and give you an idea of what you’ll be buying and using down the road.
How Heat Pumps are Driving Home Cooling Systems
There’s been a lot of buzz about heat pumps lately, but many people don’t understand the revolutionary role they’re playing in making home cooling systems energy efficient.
So let’s clarify. Heat pumps don’t actually cool air, but they are very efficient in moving it around. That means they can take the hot air out of your home in the summer when you don’t want it around, then cool the remaining air to the temperature you set with your intelligent, programmable thermostat.
The most important words in that explanation are “very efficient.” Heat pumps are nearly three times more efficient than existing heating and cooling systems, even though many existing systems already have an efficiency rating of over 90 percent.
Geothermal heat pumps actually use renewable energy. The air below ground is constantly available, and the heat pump simply draws it out and further cools the air in your home to the temperature you set with your thermostat.
It’s a powerful combination, and it’s going to become even more prevalent in the future. Heat pumps offer an energy efficiency of nearly 300 percent, and they’re constantly being improved.
That means new technology will get as close as possible to that high level of energy efficiency, with newer materials that will make them cheaper to build and install.
It’s also important to remember that this technology is in its infancy. Some HVAC companies are reluctant to install it, in part because they lack the knowledge and equipment to do it properly. The companies that are thriving are embracing the future when it comes to home cooling. Revise, Inc. can help you find the right ones to meet your home’s specific needs.
Energy Star Ratings for Appliances
The movement to “go green” isn’t just about heat pumps. Appliances are getting a serious energy efficiency makeover, which is quantified via excellent energy star ratings for dryers, washers, refrigerators, and other home appliances.
Traditionally, energy efficiency for many appliances has been expressed as a percentage. Specifically, a rating of 85 percent has been considered acceptable, while anything below that isn’t.
Now, though, those numbers are changing. New energy-efficient appliances have a percentage rating of over 90 percent, which is a game changer both for the environment, helping our carbon footprint and lowering our utility bills as well.
You should also know about the SEER rating system as well. It measures the energy efficiency of both air conditioning and heat pump systems. It’s calculated in BTUs (which you’re probably familiar with from window AC units), but the newer systems provide a SEER rating of 14, which is considered excellent, and some high-efficiency systems can have a rating as high as 20 or more.
R22 vs R410A for Effective Cooling and Better Indoor Air Quality
While it’s not exactly a new technology development, one thing you should be aware of if you’ve got an older air conditioning system is the change in the type of coolants being used.
Older AC units used a coolant that’s known as R22. It’s been around since 2010, but the Environmental Protection Agency has been phasing it out for some time now because of the negative effects it has on both the ozone layer and the ecosystem in general.
That phase-out was completed in 2020 when it became illegal to manufacture new units that used R22 as their primary coolant. R22 is still being sold, but it’s not cheap, and it’s going to get more expensive due to the shrinking supply.
It’s entirely possible that your HVAC service tech might not be able to find R22, which can put you in a difficult situation if you experience a sudden failure or breakdown.
It is possible to retrofit your older central AC unit to handle R410A, but to do this you’d have to replace your compressor and several other expensive parts, so the economics of this kind of retrofit makes little or no sense.
The new coolant that is used in place of R22 is R410A, which is not a hydrochlorofluorocarbon. That means it’s safer and better for the environment, and while it is more expensive for now, you’ll basically be future-proofed if you buy a new central AC unit that uses R410A.
You’ll also save money in the long run. R410A is much more effective when it comes to absorbing and releasing heat, which means it’s more energy efficient. When you get a home energy assessment, your assessor should be able to explain all of this to you and help you make the best possible decision if you’re upgrading your central AC.
Evaporative Cooling vs Dry Cooling
Another home cooling technology change that’s on the horizon is called dry cooling. It’s a promising change when it comes to both convenience and energy efficiency, but to get an idea of the benefits it’s helpful to understand evaporative cooling– the older, more established technology for home cooling that’s going to be on the ropes as dry cooling gets closer to being available in home cooling systems.
Evaporative cooling is based on a simple concept—when hot air makes contact with water, it evaporates into colder air. This technology is used in old-school window AC units, and it’s 15-30 percent more efficient than traditional AC compression-based systems.
But there is a drawback. Evaporative cooling adds humidity to the air it produces. This is a non-issue in arid climates like parts of the American West, but it’s a distinct issue up and down the east coast, including Massachusetts.
There is a new dehumidifier technology coming that could change all this. It’s called cold-SNAP, which combines a hydrophobic material with a ceramic coating in a way that doesn’t add humidity to the air.
No vapor compression technology is required, which means much more efficient cooling and lower energy costs to go with that cooling.
The Benefits of Dry Cooling
During dry cooling, a fan is used to blow air over a heat exchange to remove heat from the air. The exchanger comes equipped with a refrigerant that absorbs the heat as it’s removed, at which point the cooled air can be recirculated into a room.
This kind of cooling is especially effective with high humidity, which of course is a characteristic of a typical Massachusetts summer.
Heat exchangers are changing, too. This is another important technology shift, and it’s being caused by the use of advanced materials like graphene and carbon nanotubes.
These materials make heat exchangers lighter, which means they’re more efficient, and they’re more durable as well. That durability also reduces maintenance costs, which is another major advantage for homeowners seeking to become more energy efficient.
Smart controls are coming into play with dry technology, too. They can sense the level of humidity in the atmosphere. If you have a hybrid system, it can choose between evaporative cooling and dry cooling, depending on the conditions.
While some of this technology isn’t available yet, it’s important for homeowners to stay on top of what’s available so they can be environmentally responsible and save money and become more energy efficient in the process.
Future Proof Your Home Cooling System With Revise, Inc.
At Revise, Inc., we’re committed to doing everything we can to help make your home more energy efficient and educating you about your home and what you can do to maximize savings under Mass Save®.
We’re proud to be a designated contractor under the Mass Save® program, and we’ve helped hundreds of customers save thousands of dollars while improving their energy efficiency.
We make the process as simple as possible. Our home energy assessors are professionals who are extensively trained to evaluate your energy needs, and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have or explain anything from the assessment. We want you to understand that it’s a lot easier to increase your savings than you think, and we can show you how to do it.
To start the process, call us at 800-885-7283 (SAVE) or visit our website, www.callrevise.com. We’ve got some great information about savings there, so it’s an excellent place to start if you’re curious and you want to get some background material about how to spend less while making your home more energy efficient.