While the US economy begins the road to recovery, Americans continue to look for ways to save money, especially on their energy bills. As electricity deregulation begins throughout parts of the US in 2011, consumers will begin to see significant cost increases to their energy bills, although their consumption most likely will remain the same. Due to this factor, many people are focusing their attention on not only purchasing new energy efficient appliances and equipment for their homes and businesses, but looking for low cost, quick fixes which will give them added cost savings. Green advocates are predicting the initial shock of higher bills will force more families to conserve energy by taking steps like using LED bulbs, weather sealing their homes and buying more energy-efficient appliances.
Refining the equipment that conditions our homes and businesses is one way to make a significant impact on overall savings. With the numerous central air conditioning and heating systems on the market offering greater efficiency and improved comfort, one stands far superior to the rest. Engineer, Jim Fung of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has found a way to revolutionize the residential or split system air conditioner by producing greater cooling results with a smaller system, thus using less electricity. Standard air conditioning systems achieve their desired interior temperature, set on the thermostat, by producing cold supply air at a standard 55°F. This cold air mixes with the air in the space until the desired temperature is reached. Jim’s addition of a plate type heat exchanger to a basic residential split system air conditioner, actually removes double the humidity of an average unit while achieving the same interior temperature with an air supply of 65°F. By operating the air conditioner 10 degrees warmer, less electricity is needed. The result is a system that can operate at a significantly less capacity to cool the same space. Although the installation cost to add a heat exchanger is comparable to the cost of an everyday home air conditioning system replacement, the savings amount to nearly 40% per year with an estimated payback time of less than five years.
Jim has implimented his design to air conditioning systems in various locations throughout the northeastern part of the US, including the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia and the Plough of the Stars restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Aware that the existing HVAC system was not sufficient enough to compensate for all of the body heat generated by his customers on busy nights, the owner of Plough Restaurant knew he needed to upgrade. While the owner spoke to local contractors about doubling the size of the HVAC system, Jim introduced his heat exchanger air conditioning design as an alternative, giving the owner the added efficiency needed, without doubling the current system. Jim installed a slightly smaller system to the existing ductwork in the building. In conjunction with the heat exchanger, the new system was able to mimic twice the capacity of the original system’s size, giving the owner the optimal amount of air conditioning at a fraction of the cost.
In addition to the increased capacity, the heat exchanger/ air conditioner design offers a unique byproduct that was discovered during the testing phase of a unit installation at the Oceana Naval Air Station. Due to its ability to remove double the moisture from the air, condensation is constantly produced, creating a steady flow of water. The water exiting the unit is a form of distilled water that can ultimately be used as drinking water. When held under the condensate drain, an empty 16 ounce water bottle filled in approximately 15 seconds. Due to this unique byproduct, the heat exchanger used along with air conditioners in more humid climates could provide an additional form of drinking water for its residents. Another potential use for the water is to capture it in barrels and distribute it for irrigating local gardens.
If you have a slightly tighter construction budget and you’re concerned about energy loss you can always choose to re-insulate your attic. A material on the market today, called Energy Barrier, blocks out 97% of all solar radiation from your house preventing the energy from escaping through your roof. This technology, originally created by NASA as a barrier to insulate astronaut’s space suits, can be stapled directly to the rafters in your attic to produce an average of a 3 degree temperature change. The addition of the Energy Barrier will have an estimated 40% cost reduction to your electric bill with a payback time of less than three years.
One of the cheapest ways to decrease your energy consumption is to invest in technologically superior light bulbs for your home light fixtures. LED (an acronym for Light Emitting Diodes) bulbs are a fast and economical way to have a positive impact your electric bill. There are several brands of LED lights on the market today and relatively easy to find at your local hardware and appliance store. The savings from LED lights is roughly 90% for the incandescent bulbs and nearly 50% on all florescent bulbs with an average payback time of one year. Hvac supply house near me