A big part of the energy revolution in this country has been focused on making residential heating and cooling systems smarter, more efficient, and cleaner.
The government is funding research, but business has also stepped up. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. And there’s no incentive like money to be made.
Here are a handful of developments large and small you can expect to see in your HVAC tech’s grab bag– if not already, then in the near future:
1. The Detective: P3 Kill A Watt
Electricity monitor tells you exactly how much power you’re consuming with an appliance. Just plug it into anything from a microwave oven to an air-conditioning unit and prepare for shock! (Or not.) Based in New York City, P3 International Corp. sells the device for about $26 on Amazon.
2. Smart Strip
Vampire power, as you probably know, is consumption that takes place when you think everything is dead. (Ever notice all those glowing green lights at night?)
This Smart Strip powers up all your devices when you turn on your computer. It can be programmed other ways as well. It’s a surge protector for $35 that easily pays for itself.
3. ECOBEE – Contractor Web Portal
How long does it usually take before someone notices that the heat is off in your home? The Contractor Web Portal from ecobee is a device that’s installed in your furnace. It alerts your HVAC guy as soon as it detects a problem. Ask your HVAC Contractor about it.
4. Air Conditioning With No Coolant
DEVap is an AC system that uses no coolant– thus solving the biggest pollution problem in residential climate control. Developed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), DEVap uses a dessicant (similar to rock salt or DampRid) which removes humidity without electricity. DEVap is in DEvelopment; NREL says it will work with industry to bring the product to market.
Prototype DEVap Cooling System
5. Highly Educated Devices, Hobbit Homes
You know how your computer seems to sense when you’re in the market for a new refrigerator? (Hint: It gathers clues from your searches and emails.) Well, this device ‘learns’ when you’re likely to be away from home, and your favorite temperature for each room; it monitors outside weather and indoor humidity; it can be adjusted from your car. The Nest learning thermometer sells for about $249 at Home Depot.
New Type Of Air-Cleaning Technology
Researchers at Washington University have come up with air-cleaning technology they say will cut down on allergens, viruses, and ultrafine particles in the home. While traditional air-cleaners trap viruses in the filter (where they can multiply) this technology irradiates micro-organisms. The researchers tested the technology on mice with weak immune systems, and the mice survived to endorse the product in ads. (Just kidding :-))
Michigan State University scientists are working on green roofs. They say that 12% of roofs in Germany are composed of sod and living plants and the ‘field’ is growing 10-15% a year. Green roofs conserve energy, reduce the heat produced by urban areas, help roofing materials last longer, and provide a more pleasing environment.
Some visionaries believe that more of the so-called built environment could be composed of natural substances over the next decades. This would reduce pollution and the depletion of natural resources such as oil and wood, and facilitate recycling. (Let Nature do it!)
Imagine a world filled with hobbit-like dwellings!
Okay, maybe hobbit homes are a little far-fetched. But the real story is almost as compelling: Human ingenuity is rising to the challenge of climate change and dwindling resources.
Now that’s a future we can live with.