It is probably fair to say that the biggest challenge of the 21st century for firms in the air-conditioning industry is the production of equipment which is much more energy-efficient. Strict targets set by national and international energy commissions for the reduction of energy usage are undoubtedly ambitious but eminently achievable. The HVAC industry is under pressure to produce cooling units which are friendly to the environment while still performing at the optimum level. What exactly does this mean for the future of the air-conditioning industry and how must it evolve in order to meet ever-changing requirements?
The Need for Energy-Efficiency
One of the by-products of the need to protect the environment is the creation of the F Gas Regulation. First brought into force by the European Union in 2006, this legislation has recently been updated. One of the new reforms included in the latest legislation is the banning of the use of certain F gases in equipment such as air-conditioners and refrigerators when other, more environmentally friendly alternatives are available. There will also be limits set on the amount of F gases that can be sold throughout Europe, with these limits lowering sequentially each year. While this may at first seem to pose a problem for the HVAC industry, it at least gives manufacturers a clear guide as to the path they should be taking in the future and which components they need to be working with.
The drive for energy-efficiency could spell the end of the line for multiple-zone air-handling systems. The energy required in order for this type of system to function at its optimum level is simply too much for today’s environmentally conscious world. The deficiencies inherent in these multiple-zone units are simply too complicated to put right so it is likely they will be abandoned altogether. This means a reliance instead on single-zone systems, although these will have to improve substantially as they are generally seen as being inferior to the multi-zone models. Fortunately, the improvements required are quite easily achievable.
A Smart HVAC Industry
The energy industry as a whole is moving remorselessly to the adoption of smart technology across the board. The same will undoubtedly hold true of the HVAC industry too. Examples of smart technology can already be seen within the air-conditioning sector, with certain systems fitted with thermostats which can be operated from a remote location through a smartphone, tablet or laptop. The next step will likely be the addition of air-conditioning systems to the national electric grid, with units being automatically controlled by the weather and their geographical location.
Ever since the creation of the first modern air-conditioning unit at the beginning of the 20th century, the HVAC industry has continued to evolve and adapt to the needs of the various eras. Today, that need is for energy-efficient units which not only comply with regulations but also still perform to their optimum level. The challenge has been set.