Vancouver is going green! On July 13, 2018, the Vancouver City Council approved an energy efficiency plan for both homes and vehicles that will promote a zero-emission protocol city-wide. The improvements and strategic advancements involved in implementing this plan will be unveiled by 2020, marking a major milestone in making Vancouver a clean and green city in the years to come.
Of course, there are numerous questions to be answered. One of the most important of these is how to control heating and cooling systems without causing a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions?
Energy Efficiency in HVAC systems
An obvious first step we can take right now is to maximize the efficiency of our current heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) systems. Regular maintenance, especially of older systems, can keep these systems running at peak efficiency. This can give all of us the comfort we expect with the lowest possible energy usage.
Replacing older systems with new, more energy-efficient systems is a natural, evolutionary step that not only lowers energy usage but can save home and business owners money from month to month and over the lifetime of the new unit. HVAC manufacturers have made tremendous strides in improving the efficiency of their products in the last few years. Especially for units more than 7 to 10 years old, these savings alone may justify the cost of a new unit.
Since 40% of an average home’s energy usage is by the HVAC unit, and the average lifespan of a unit is 10–15 years, choosing an efficient unit as a replacement is a green, smart choice. Who doesn’t want a lower power bill?
ServiceXCEL can also help you choose a new unit that’s less likely to produce toxic or harmful substances, mostly gases, that add to overall global warming. Over the next decade and a half, just replacing old units with newer, cleaner, greener systems can be an easy step to take to make Vancouver the city we want it to be.
Types of HVAC systems and their energy expenditure
There are three basic types of HVAC systems, each with their own energy expenditures:
– Ducted Heating and Air Conditioning Split System
Split systems are so named because the outdoor unit bearing the condenser or compressor is “split” from the area of utilization, usually being placed outside the home. The outdoor unit is the heart of the system which condenses and expands the refrigerant to cool or heat the circulated air in the ducts. These “heat pumps” are very efficient at 10 degrees C, but somewhere around 3 degrees C, their efficiency begins to rapidly decrease. Below this temperature, most of these systems use an electrical resistance strip heating system to maintain your home’s warmth, which makes them less efficient. About 50-55% of your home’s ultimate energy usage is consumed by this type of system. ServiceXCEL also offers cold climate Zuba Central heat pumps with hyper heat technology which operate down to -30C. These units maintain a much higher heat output at below freezing temperatures and are so efficient that at -30C they still use 10% less electricity then resistance heaters! These units can be installed without backup heat when sized appropriately. This is twice as beneficial if you have no natural gas or you have limited electrical service.
– Hybrid heat pump systems
These HVAC systems are somewhat more efficient than Split systems because these units contain newer equipment with higher Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) furnaces well as a higher Coefficient of Performance (COP). These systems switch to a natural gas/propane backup furnace instead of electrical strip heaters on cold days. When gas prices are low this is both more efficient and has a lower operating cost than strip heating units.
Both traditional Split and Hybrid heat pump systems are “packaged” systems because they contain the compressor, condenser, and evaporator in one place and therefore are more install-friendly and convenient at the same time. These systems can be louder as they have all the components in one location (usually outside). They also rely on an extensive series of ducts to move the heated/cooled air throughout the building. These ducts require their own regular inspection, cleaning, and maintenance to preserve maximum efficiency and prevent the buildup of dust, mold, and spores that can increase indoor air pollution in the home.
– Ductless Mini-split Heat Pump
Ductless mini-split systems have small units that are placed where you need heating or cooling or to provide zoned comfort for your home. These systems provide the same heating and cooling as traditional units without the need for bulky ducts and duct maintenance. They also allow for greater flexibility and precision in placing heating and cooling exactly where it’s needed. The overall energy expenditure for mini-split systems is about 70% of that of electric heat in heating mode, making them a very energy-efficient choice.
How can efficiency be optimized in these HVAC systems?
The efficiency of an HVAC system depends on several factors including the type of unit, individual needs, overall system efficiency and the degree to which required maintenance is carried out. HVAC systems that are properly maintained and calibrated biannually are more effective at utilizing energy than those which are neglected. Regular maintenance is essential to keep your unit running at peak levels, keep energy costs down, and extend the life of the unit. Also, routine inspections can find small problems before they become catastrophic failures, saving the expense of major repairs.
To be fully compliant with the zero-emission protocol, any emissions which are unnecessary or harmful to the environment should be eliminated from HVAC systems. Regular inspections and maintenance, continuous upgrading to the latest developments in HVAC systems and using the recycled energy from ambient air are how modern technologies are able to introduce huge improvements for these HVAC systems. All of these are essential steps towards achieving the goals of the Vancouver zero-emission protocol.
Benefits of energy efficient HVAC systems
Using highly efficient HVAC systems is in everyone’s best interest because they will consistently reduce your energy bill and are far more environmentally friendly.
These advanced HVAC systems are beneficial for the environment because they use less energy, causing a consistent decrease in the overall consumption of fuel and energy. Lower energy consumption means lower requirements for energy production, which in turn lowers the greenhouse gas production that accompanies that energy production.
Advanced HVAC systems also allow you to control the thermostat of your device remotely, which gives you complete control of your home’s environment, further reducing energy waste. These innovations make it possible for you to enjoy the comfortable home you expect at a significantly lower energy usage rate.
Finally, a modern, well-maintained HVAC system can last longer, saving you money through lower energy bills for years to come.
Things to consider when choosing a new HVAC system
The optimal choice of an HVAC system for your needs depends on several factors. Your ServiceXCEL technician will be happy to discuss your needs and concerns and work with you to select the system which best meets those needs. Overall energy efficiency and environmental-friendly ratings can be balanced with your home’s design and heating/cooling requirements to create an optimal solution for your particular situation. Other recommendations such as improving your home’s insulation and sealing (including ductwork) may also be made by the ServiceXCEL technician to provide you with the best possible home comfort at the best possible cost, with the lowest possible impact on the environment.
At ServiceXCEL we provide various residential, commercial and institutional systems and services such as:
- Heating and Cooling solutions
- Heat Pumps
- Air Conditioning
- Hot Water Solutions
- Air Filters
- Heat Recovery
These systems utilize the most recent technology to meet the goals of the Vancouver energy efficiency plan. ServiceXCEL technicians are trained to give every customer the best HVAC experience in the area as we work towards compliance with Vancouver’s energy efficiency plan.
We at ServiceXCEL are continually working with the latest updates to the Vancouver energy efficiency plan and are providing energy efficient systems to help our customers become compliant with the zero-emission goal of the city. We also provide various monitoring systems such as smart thermostats and other remote systems which will help you to control the efficiency of HVAC systems so that your costs can be effectively managed while controlling the climate inside your home according to your preference.
Contact ServiceXCEL today for more information about the best HVAC systems available for your home. Together, we can all move towards the goal of clean and green energy efficiency in Vancouver and Vancouver Island.