Heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) products ensure data and IT centers are operational and provide for a fresh food supply and medical necessities such as MRI machines. They also deliver essential comfort and clean air to homes, office buildings and health care facilities.
An energy issue
The HVACR industry consumes more energy than any other industry in the United States. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that commercial and residential buildings consume 38 percent of the energy in the United States. In commercial buildings, 54 percent of the energy is consumed by HVACR products, and it consumes 55 percent of the energy in residential buildings.
The industry is under regular attack by environmental groups and policy makers because of the energy our products consume and the refrigerants we use. Despite being a constant target, most HVACR systems, even the most efficient systems, still consume 30 to 40 percent more energy than they were designed to consume. Why? Because they are not being installed correctly.
Creating a standard
To address these installation problems that are impacting half of all systems, the industry voluntarily developed the quality installation (QI) standard. Following this standard provides consumers with a guarantee that their system will deliver the efficiency they were promised by government efficiency ratings and labels.
A QI means following HVACR manufacturers’ product design and installation requirements. HVACR systems must be accurately sized, and the ducts must be designed properly to deliver precise air flow. If these requirements are not followed, a system will likely be oversized and the ducts undersized. It will work harder and use more energy than it was designed to, which could also lead to mold growth and poor indoor air quality.
A QI also helps reduce refrigerant leaks and protects the atmosphere. Contractors are required to fill systems with precise levels of refrigerants and ensure the levels are recorded with acceptable documentation.
We can be more sustainable and reduce energy consumption in the HVACR industry beyond what environmental groups advocate if we change the focus from lab-tested equipment efficiencies and, instead, highlight the importance of QI standards and field-tested efficiencies.
Todd Washam, Director of Industry/External Relations, Air Conditioning Contractors of America, [email protected]