According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can lead to 61 billion dollars in health damages every year – not to mention the massive loss in the productivity of individuals. To minimize the damage, there is a need for an efficient HVAC system that keeps the working conditions in the optimum state in an indoor environment, especially in cities like Fort Worth. Sometimes regular maintenance helps. But sometimes, even HVAC maintenance and timely AC repair in Fort Worth, Texas is not enough to minimize environmental damage to the city. But how does an HVAC system actually affect the environment? Is it really worth the attention? The main environmental effects of HVAC are:
- High Energy Consumption
- Depletion of Earth’s Ozone layer
- Produce Waste
- Wastage of Space
HVAC Systems are essential in keeping the IAQ at the optimum levels. And this converts to better efficiency and output. However, there is no way to disregard the negative effects HVAC systems have on the environment. Let’s discuss the potential hazards:
It is no mystery that HVAC systems are highly sought after for heating and air conditioning in the US. The following shows the power consumption scenario of HVAC systems in the country:
- According to the US Energy Information Administration (US EIA), both commercial and residential buildings had a 40% overall contribution to energy consumption in 2020.
And 28% of it was directly due to the energy used for indoor heating and cooling.
- Residential buildings have higher consumption in this regard, consuming around 11.8 quadrillion (1 quadrillion = 1000000 billion) BTU. For commercial buildings, the rate is 5.8 quadrillion BTU.
HVAC systems use refrigerants to cool off the indoor environment and expel it outside. Refrigerants are one of the key elements that contribute to the increase in the global temperature. And this happens due to the depletion of the ozone layer. The ozone layer is a protective layer that offers defense from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. However, HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons) in HVAC units are major refrigerant entities that play a major role in damaging the ozone layer. This happens primarily when there is a leak in the HVAC unit or when the unit reaches its end-of-life and can no longer offer service. The disposal releases environmentally harmful, ozone-depleting substances. According to the US EPA, ozone-damaging HFC emissions from HVAC and other such systems can rise to 10% by the year 2050 if proper measures are not put in place.
HVAC systems are not easily recyclable. And there are good reasons for that:
- In general, if an HVAC system is well-maintained, it can last anywhere from 10 to 25 years, depending on its use case.
This means that such systems are not easily recyclable due to the parts becoming obsolete over time. Refrigerants are a good example of this.
- HVAC Systems are part of large infrastructures (buildings, shopping malls, and such). So, as the unit becomes out of order, the whole thing needs to change. The size and weights are major issues in this regard, as oftentimes, a complete overhaul is necessary.
- HVAC refrigerants are unusable in 99% of the cases. Such wastes need to be disposed of in the correct way.
Otherwise, these HFC wastes can harm the environment.
In general, residential units do not need extra space for HVAC systems. Attic or basement, or space in the backyard is enough for indoor and outdoor units. It’s the commercial units that require additional space for handlers, chillers, and other utilities. Such utilities are a cause of concern for maintaining biodiversity in the area.
Energy Efficiency Improvements
The US Department of Energy claims that energy efficiency improvements in the HVAC system can reduce the overall energy consumption of the unit from 10 to 30%. You can do the following for better efficiency:
- Upgrade to energy-saving models.
- Maintain the coils, filters, and other parts of the system.
- Use automatically adjustable equipment (like smart thermostats) to dynamically maintain temperatures.
- Reduce leaks and cracks in the infrastructure (improve building isolation, take care of cracks and leaks.
- Use ‘Zoning’ to cool or heat areas that need it the most at certain times.
- Take advantage of natural ventilation.
As of right now, R-410a is being used across the country. But environment-friendly refrigerants such as Carbon Dioxide and Ammonia are less harmful as they have a low impact on ozone layer depletion. EPA estimates that the use of such refrigerants can decrease greenhouse emissions by up to 90%.
Introduce Automation for Better Control
Modern HVAC Systems have automated controls to maintain optimum circulation in the areas of the building that require it. Such automated systems can decrease HVAC greenhouse emissions by 50%. Furthermore, smart thermostats in the system also contribute and can bring the emission down by another 10% if implemented correctly.
Regular maintenance like changing air filters, clearing the coils, and regularly checking the refrigerant levels can improve the lifetime of the HVAC unit. Remember, proper maintenance can lead to around 30% better efficiency.
HVAC Systems are essential. But the negative impacts of it need consideration. So, it is important to use efficient HVAC systems to minimize environmental effects. Automation, as well as manual human effort, can make it happen. If you want professional help with HVAC design and AC Repair, Fort Worth, Texas has many capable HVAC contractors to look at your home and suggest a better approach toward optimum efficiency and sustainability.