Comfort is costly. HVAC equipment can account for 40 percent of the electricity a building consumes in order to stay cool and warm.
And electricity costs a lot of money to keep running. Since the ‘70s and ‘80s, the HVAC industry has been working to reduce the amount of energy the equipment uses, making it more efficient and more practical to use. This drilldown on energy spend is also beneficial—or greener—for the environment.
Here are four ways the HVAC industry is helping color the world with brighter shades of green.
1. Mini-Split Ductless Systems
One of the most popular trends for light commercial and residential properties currently is the mini-split ductless HVAC system.
While these systems have been in use in Asia and Europe for decades, they are just catching on in the United States. These units feature two characteristics that set them apart from traditional A/C systems:
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- They lack ductwork, instead relying on refrigerant lines to connect an outdoor unit to an indoor one.
- A heat pump provides the heating and cooling.
More than 30 percent of energy loss in a structure can be attributed to ductwork, so these systems can greatly improve the energy efficiency of a home or small business.
2. Smart Homes
By 2020, 26 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).
The IoT is the connection of the Internet to appliances found in homes and businesses. Many of these devices control the heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration systems in smart homes.
Such connectedness allows HVAC technicians to remotely troubleshoot problems and adjust systems for improved energy efficiency.
Home and building owners will also see benefits: Optimized connectivity can result in greater compliance with Department of Energy regulations and potentially higher property values.
3. Refrigerant Regulations
Several new refrigerant regulations take effect in 2018 under Section 608 of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act.
Only technicians with EPA certification under Section 608 and 609 of the Clean Air Act may sell HFC and HFO refrigerants. A copy of the technicians’ proof of certification must be kept at their employers’ business locations for three years after they leave the employer.
HVAC technicians must abide by new refrigerant recordkeeping laws in 2018 for appliances holding between 5 and 50 pounds of refrigerant.
When a technician is recovering refrigerant, he or she must record the date, location and type of refrigerant for each appliance that was disposed of, as well as the amount of each kind of refrigerant.
If the technician is transferring the refrigerant for destruction or reclamation, he or she must record the same information, plus the name of the person who received the refrigerant.
3. Servicing Equipment
All of the rules for servicing HVAC equipment that uses CFC and HCFC refrigerants apply to those with HFC and HFO refrigerants.
4. Certification Cards
Any certification cards issued or replaced in 2018 will have new wording. They will state the technician’s name and the type of EPA certification he or she holds.
5. New Certification Exam
The EPA HVAC technician certification exam is currently being updated to include the new regulations. Technicians who already hold EPA certification under the old tests will not have to take the new exam to maintain their certification.
4. New Rooftop A/C Unit Standards
The Department of Energy has issued new efficiency standards for commercial A/C units that are located on the rooftops of low-rise buildings that take effect in 2018. The DOE will require that these units operate at a minimum efficiency that is ten percent higher.
Another phase of the law will take effect in 2023 that mandates 25-30 percent higher efficiency for this type of equipment. These news standards are projected to save 1.7 trillion kWh of electricity over 30 years of sales. Building owners can also expect to see significant savings over the lifetime of the equipment.
Staying Current with the Industry
While you may still be finishing your HVAC education, keeping up with industry trends will be important once you graduate and enter the field.
HVAC technicians who support the energy efficiency innovations of the industry contribute to a cleaner environment and save their customers money on utility bills.
Read more about the HVAC industry’s role in the green jobs revolution and how it’s making the world a cleaner, safer place to live.