Guest post by Aaron Barnett of Cascade Comfort Systems
As building designs become increasingly efficient, with advances in building envelopes, windows, insulation, lights, and other systems, mechanical systems are also evolving to keep pace.
The three systems currently trending as top mechanical solutions for efficient homes include Heat Pump Systems, Heat Recovery Ventilators and Heat Pump Water Heaters.
Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV) complement any high-end build, reducing heating and cooling needs, increasing comfort and radically improving indoor air quality. An HRV runs continuously at all times, bringing in fresh air from the outside and exhausting stale air from inside. It uses a heat exchanger to conserve the energy that has been put into conditioning the air inside your home. It also filters all the air that passes through it so allergens, dust, and other common pollutants are significantly reduced. HRVs provide benefits for all homes, but as the air barrier gets tighter and tighter they become critical to the performance and comfort of the home.
Today, most homes have no fresh air delivery system other than leaky floorboards, drafty windows or “fresh air vents”. These provide no filtration of pollutants and can enable high concentrations of CO2 and moisture. Installing an HRV system addresses these drawbacks to improve overall comfort, health and quality of life.
Heat Pump Systems are already common in many other parts of the world and the technology is rapidly growing in popularity due to their efficiency and their ability to deliver both heating and cooling in one package. As summer temperatures rise in the northwest, the demand for cooling is rising as well. There are a wide array of manufacturers that offer heat pump systems in the United States. Heat pumps are 3-4 times more efficient than current furnace and electric resistance systems due to the fact that they harvest and transfer energy from the ambient air outside your home. Heat pumps come in a variety of configurations and sizes and the systems can be scaled to serve loads from small apartments to large commercial and multi-family applications. They can also be easily retrofitted to existing homes and businesses to offer greater comfort and significant monetary savings on utility bills.
While space heating generally represents the largest share of energy consumption in a residence, domestic hot water heating is another large component of that load. Heat pump water heaters have been on the market for a few years, but the Japanese company Sanden has recently introduced a heat pump system that uses CO2 as a refrigerant, as opposed to R410a. This system is four times more efficient than resistance or gas fired hot water heaters, and has the capacity to serve some heating load in addition to providing domestic hot water. Installing this system saves a significant amount of money and reduces your carbon footprint.
About Cascade Climate Systems
Cascade Climate Systems is one of the few HVAC companies that specializes in installing high-performance mechanical systems that complement durably built homes and high quality buildings. These cutting-edge systems present a way to dramatically reduce energy use, preserving important natural resources and contributing positively to our environment by reducing the effect heating and cooling our buildings has on global climate change, all while increasing indoor comfort.
Aaron Barnett manages Cascade Comfort Systems, Cascade Built’s mechanical systems division. He’s an expert in high-performance mechanical installations and known for bringing a keen understanding of building complexities and construction. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 206-409-4948.