Want A Better Air Conditioner? 2 Future HVAC Features That Could Change The Game


During a hot, humid summer, nothing is worse than listening to your air conditioner sputter to a halt. Unfortunately, unless you want to endure inhumane temperatures and bothersome humidity, you might find yourself on the phone with a 24 hour ac repair technician, requesting a service call in the middle of the night. However, air conditioners of the future might not require as much tender loving care. Here are two future HVAC features that could change the game:

1: Better Refrigerants

Refrigerants have been a big problem for the HVAC industry, with common varieties like R-22 exacerbating ozone depletion. After banning the sale of new air conditioners containing R-22 and promoting recycling programs, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to phase the chemical out altogether by the year 2030. To take its place, HVAC manufacturers have started to focus on creating better refrigerants. Here are a few examples of state-of-the-art refrigerants that might be available in the future, and how they could benefit your family:

  • Solid Refrigerants: While traditional refrigerants are typically in gas form, some manufacturers are experimenting with the idea of introducing denser, solid state refrigerants. Solid materials like bismuth telluride and thermoelectric solids might line condenser coils, rapidly removing heat and humidity from the air. Unlike gas, which needs to be moved around, solid refrigerants would stay in place, reducing the need for moving parts that are susceptible to problems. Because of this fact, solid refrigerants might extend HVAC lifespans, saving you time and money.   
  • Smart Metals: Some researchers are even experimenting with smart metals that change shape when they absorb and release heat. These metals would offer all the benefits of traditional refrigerants, without any of the environmental impacts. Smart metal refrigerants also require less power, increasing energy efficiency by as much as 175%.

Better refrigerants might keep your home cool and comfortable, without contributing to astronomical power bills. 

2: Self-Sanitizing Systems

If you have ever cleaned an evaporator coil, then you know how grimy the inside of an air conditioner can get. In addition to impeding airflow, dirt can prompt mold and fungal growth, creating clumps that can clog your air conditioner drainage lines. Fortunately, scientists are developing air conditioners that can sanitize themselves.

These air conditioners, developed by scientists in China, contain internal components and coils made from copper. Believe it or not, copper can destroy bacterial cells, literally punching holes through cell membranes. Once the cell loses nutrients and water, it dies off. In fact, experts have found that common household mold species exposed to copper experience complete die off within 24 hours of contact. Here are a few things that copper air conditioners could do for you:

  • Cleaner Air: Bacteria needs warmth and moisture to grow, which is why air conditioners are so susceptible to pathogen growth. Unfortunately, as air is cooled and circulated through your home, mold spores can aggravate allergies. However, self-sanitizing air conditioners would produce cleaner air, so that you can stay healthy.   
  • Fewer Break Downs: When mold has free reign to grow inside of your air conditioner, problems can develop over time. Clogged evaporator coils can reduce system efficiency, making your air conditioner work harder than it needs to. However, a cleaner system might mean fewer break downs, so that you aren't left without AC.
  • Fewer Air Conditioning Odors: Allergies aren't the only negative side effect of breathing in moldy air. Bacteria, mold, and fungus create volatile organic compounds as they grow and multiply, which smell terrible. Fortunately, a self-sanitizing air conditioner might mean fewer air odors, so that your house smells clean and fresh.  

In the future, you might not have to worry as much about greenhouse gasses and clogged filters. But for now, you might be able to avoid a lot of hassle by having your system maintained regularly. If it has been awhile since your system was inspected, contact an HVAC professional to make an appointment. 


27 August 2015

Cool off Your AC Bill

Every summer, I agonized over energy bills that would shoot into the stratosphere as a result of my efforts to keep cool in the heat. Every time I turned the temperature down, my bills increased. This summer, I decided to take some of the control over my energy bill back. I installed reflective film on my windows that reduced the amount of light and heat coming into the house. I started serving more cold meals or asking my husband to barbecue outside, so that my air conditioner didn't have to compete with the hot stove, and I started doing laundry at night to reduce appliance heat in the house at peak times. I also had ceiling fans installed. So far, the difference in my bill has been tremendous. This blog is a way for me to explore other ways to reduce energy drain during the summer months.