NJ AIR QUALITY BLOG

How SMART Will Your HVAC System Be In 2024?

ByMarc Silberberg

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The smart phone today can be used for more productive purposes than Meta (Facebook), movies, and shopping. It has now entered the realm of adjusting heating and air conditioning and preventing harmful indoor air quality. Central air conditioning was a big breakthrough and by the late 1960’s it was common for it to be included in newly built homes. When and why did the mobile phone transform into the “smartphone” of today? The Internet has been around for a while, but we used to have to go back to our homes, offices, or libraries to access it. This changed when the iPhone was released in 2007 which included among other features, apps, touchscreens, and cameras. The term “smart” originates from the shorthand, S.M.A.R.T. standing for, “Self-Monitoring, Analysis & Reporting Technologies”. Understanding this definition can educate us as to what smart appliances do with emphasis on smart HVAC systems in this article. Today’s stoves, ovens and refrigerators hold this title as well and we can now control them from a distance with our cell phones and tablets.

The campaign for an increase in energy efficient HVAC equipment in 2024 has propelled the industry to introduce such innovations as high-efficiency furnaces, combinations of heating and air conditioning in the same unit, zoning systems, smart thermostats, solar-powered, and geothermal heating systems.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

How can ground and water sources supply our heating and cooling systems? These systems will use the unvarying temperature underground in our homes and slowly become a popular alternative to standard energy as the installation costs of these systems decrease. These systems have a longer lifecycle which will reduce the costs of utility bills and they will be able to provide not only cooling and heating but even hot water to modern homes. Different types of fans and compressors will help these systems give extra convenience as well as being quite energy efficient. As a member of “green HVAC systems”, geothermal systems use natural refrigerants such as water, air, carbon dioxide and ammonia which are less costly and create less waste, so they are eco-friendly.

Freon has been the standard for air conditioning for over fifty years but with the advent of other safer gases it is slowly being phased out for more environmentally friendly options.

HVAC Systems That Are Solar Powered

As we all are already aware, solar energy has been used for many years to heat homes and their water supply. However, there are some negative opinion holders about the advantages and practicalities of solar energy.

Solar energy companies offer large incentives to have this type of power installed in private dwellings. One of the main drawbacks is that the solar panels are situated on the roof and can cause major problems on the roof, namely the weight of the solar panels can damage the roofing and decrease the lifetime of the roofing materials. Some people do not like the way these panels look and feel as they interfere with the landscape of their home. Companies are giving substantial incentives that will pay off in the long run if the customer keeps his home long term. However, if they decide to sell their home, the solar energy contract may be a deterrent for the sale.

The advantages of solar power HVAC systems may outweigh the above problems since solar-powered HVAC systems are more affordable and effective than ever before.

HVAC Zoning Systems

Why should all your rooms be the same temperature, especially if some of those areas are not being used or occupied? The more thermostats there are in the home the more varied the temperatures can be. Cooling or heating systems will consider what’s going on in different areas of the house. For example, a sunroom at the end of the house will be warmer than the other parts of the home in the summer due to direct sunlight and cooler in the winter due to the number of windows.

Most HVAC systems for the home concentrate on allowing for a comfortable temperature for the total home. Since the thermostat is placed in what the installer would surmise is the central part of the home it can only judge the temperature for that spot. That spot is usually not near any windows or doors so there will be an arbitrary judgment on what the most comfortable temperature would be. If the thermostat is situated in the hallway, then that’s where the judgment of the thermostat would come from. Truthfully, how long do the people in the house hang around the hallway? They may take off their coats and hang them in the hallway closet and then go on to the appropriate room which can be the kitchen or the bedroom. HVAC systems will end up wasting energy or not heating and cooling efficiently.

With the installation of a smart thermostat, the focus can be on different parts of the house instead of only one room or hallway. Once it is programmed it will be able to anticipate people’s preferences and will save energy while making the occupants feel more satisfied. For example, with the oven in the kitchen the temperature can be lower and the bedrooms warmer at the same time. We can compare it to an up-to-date car which can keep the driver at one temperature, the front passenger at another and the people in the back of the car at a third temperature variable.

Included in a smart HVAC system are special sensors that connect to a group of wireless communication gadgets such as mobile devices and tablets with special software which is cloud-based.

Smart HVAC Systems That Can Detect Unsafe Indoor Air Quality

If your HVAC system is smart it will be able to purify the air in your home automatically and advise you if the ventilation in your home isn’t safe and some systems can be lifesaving by alerting you when there is carbon monoxide in the air.

What if your HVAC air ducts are leaking or the air filters are too dirty to keep the system working efficiently? Some folks are diligent and clean their filters regularly and often. However, let’s be honest and many folks will end up calling in their HVAC specialist to find out what’s wrong with their system. The air ducts themselves can only be serviced by a professional but would it be helpful for the homeowner if they would be given a message on their smartphone that a duct is leaky? This would save the repairman who comes in with lots of precious time and he could go straight to the leaky duct instead of spending his time and your money searching for the culprit. The HVAC system would be equipped with environmental sensors that alert you if something is wrong such as a leaky duct.

Another type of sensor is called an occupancy sensor which identifies if there are people home in the house. Then the HVAC system will lower the AC when people leave the room in the summer or the heat in the winter. It will close the air vents when necessary to maximize the efficiency of the unit.

Hopefully, you will not have carbon monoxide present in your home ever but what about something not dangerous but important nevertheless such as controlling the amount of humidity in your indoor air quality? In the summer, we would not want humidity in our homes for other reasons besides frizzy hair. However, in the winter, you would not want to wake up with a dry mouth especially if you did not bring a water bottle up to the second or third floor. You do need humidity in the winter months to keep the air quality in your home satisfactory.

Is Your HVAC Technician Trained in Smart HVAC Systems?

When calling in a technician to change your old system to a smart one, make sure that the company and the technician are up to date on the latest innovations to make your system work as efficiently as possible. The first hint of his or her knowledge would be to hear the words, zoning, automatic air quality, and the simple word “smart”. However, this is still not enough to have the HVAC technician to overhaul your system. You might be changing to a totally new heat pump which will heat and cool with the same unit. It’s a large investment which will pay off in the long run, but you want to make sure it is installed correctly. You also would like to attach the system to your phone, tablet or/and computer so you must make sure these devices are adaptable.

In 2024 technicians will be taking courses to train to become SMART HVAC technicians. These courses will deal with HVAC computer basics and may require as much as 135 hours of training to become an expert in this new and upcoming field.

Your technician should have the patience to educate you about all the different options that your smart HVAC system has. If you learn how to use the apps and understand what’s going on you will be able to run your home HVAC system efficiently and economically. However, if you do not learn the system sufficiently you will have to rely on the programming of the expert. Also, seniors often get flustered with their smart devices so make sure there is someone in the family present when you switch over to a smart HVAC system.

Final Words

There is much going on in the technical improvements and innovations in the HVAC industry. One of the most popular ones today is the heat pump which allows both heating and air conditioning to work within the same sphere. The heat pump is a smaller version of the central air conditioner with the addition of a reversing valve so that the unit provides both heating and cooling. These versions make use of smart technology such as thermostats, air quality control, HVAC zoning, air purifying and even garner information of the systems efficiency and can automatically tweak the energy usage.

Smart HVAC technology is having a major influence on commercial buildings, apartment residential structures and other large facilities. Horrible and fatal viruses and bacteria causing sickness will be monitored more efficiently and quickly with smart systems monitoring and controlling systems from afar to remotely control any deviations from normal air quality. The amount of energy being used by commercial structures will be monitored and applied for maintenance before something breaks or affects the population inside the structures negatively. Costly repairs can be avoided since the maintenance is ongoing and not only when a serviceman comes to check on the HVAC system periodically. The U.S. government is giving out tax credits for businesses using new hardware and software such as green systems like solar power and geothermal heat pumps.

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