Sunday, January 29, 2012

Common Sense Energy Savings

Common Sense Energy Reducing Techniques and Processes.

By Jules Williams Associate Member ASHRAE Building Analyst Professional.

At this time of ever increasing energy prices, we are saturated with sales people and companies who are determined to reduce our energy costs. Occasionally we find our selves at the mercy of these sales gimmicks per chance we may stumble upon a process or device that will actually reduce our energy bill.

Air-conditioning remains the largest and most costly component of our energy bill. Reducing energy associated with air-conditioning operation has been a concern since the introduction of air-conditioning. Today, air conditioning operation expense is a hardship to some and a burden to many.

The air-conditioning industry recently introduced higher SEER air-conditioners to meet regulatory concerns for more efficient energy consumption. In this article we will examine the SEER and its impact on the cost we pay for electricity, used to operate air-conditioning.

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a combination of the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) and the coefficient of performance (COP); Both SEER and EER are used as standard bench marks for air-conditioning. The higher the EER value, the more efficient the machine.

The EER is the rated cooling capacity of a unit in Btu/h divided by the electrical power in watts. The SEER is similar to the EER .It is computed in the same way, but the wattage is adjusted to be more realistic. The SEER system uses the actual wattage. When a unit starts, it draws lock rotor amps. Therefore more power is consumed during startup compared to when the unit is operating.

This is where the SEER becomes interesting; we will now evaluate the formula for calculating the SEER.

The SEER is the total cooling accomplished by a unit during its normal annual usage, divided by the total electric energy input in watt-hours. The formula is:

Sum of BTU/H (cooling) outputs / Sum of all watt-hour inputs at all test conditions.

Like I describe previously the SEER is the seasonal energy efficiency for air-conditioners based on three tests. All three tests are based on 80 degrees oF indoors and 82 degrees out doors.

The first test is conducted using high indoor humidity, the second dry indoor humidity and the third under dry conditions, while cycling the unit on for six minutes then off for 24 minutes. This test is very suspect to various climates.

I provide the above information to highlight the complication associated with SEER and the ease with which industry and sales people are able to have us replace our 10 SEER equipment with SEER rating no less than 13. A 13 SEER unit is supposed to improve the cost for operating an air conditioner over a 10 SEER system.

The  air-conditioning sales people use the line that you are paying too much to operate your 10 SEER unit and proposes to upgrade to 13 SEER, which is the standard air-conditioning rating today, the sales pitch does not stop there; the  pitch is for 15 to 21 SEER and higher in-order to maximize savings.

I am interested in SEER and its relationship to energy savings that is why I purchased a 13 SEER to replace my 10 SEER unit. Like a parrot I rehearsed the justification to myself, lower operating cost. First I tested my unit under all conditions, measuring all parameters. I purchased a fluke data logger to store all the comparative data I needed in order to evaluate my new unit. I was surprised to find that the amps of my new unit was identical to the old unit, and since I paid for volts * Amps * PF, I expected to see a significant reduction in amps.

After several evaluations of the new unit and comparing the results to that of the old unit I concluded that SEER alone was not going to provide me with energy savings. Be weary of any one who wants you to increase the SEER of your unit with the excuse that you are paying too much for electrical energy.

Many energy experts agree that sealing residential duct work gives the highest pay back for homes and light commercial businesses it provides for an attractive pay back and greatly improves health concerns, indoor comfort and durability of many house hold items After years of research, three general process have been proven to provide the biggest return in home energy improvements for home owners all pertaining to duct work improvement.

  1. Seal the duct.
  2. Place ducts in un-vented attics and crawl spaces.
  3. Place the ducts in the air-conditioned envelope.

Supply Duct leakage can occur in the supply or return duct or at the furnace or air-handler. Supply air leaks usually create negative pressure in the air-conditioned envelope. This condition attracts polluted outside air to enter the air- conditioned envelope. Other problems associated with negative pressure are:

  1. Back drafting of combustible devices such as water heaters and furnaces
  2. Introduction of out door contaminants into the indoor environment
  3. Introduction of out door particles.
  4. Poor indoor comfort with regards to dust and volatile organic compounds.
  5. High operating cost
  6. Reduced material life.

Return duct leakage produces similar ill effects and compares well with supply duct leaks.

Depressurizing tests of buildings reveal that at 25 pa. Sealing with fiberglass and mastic can reduce leaks to less than 5% of fan delivery capability. This computes to between 25 and 35% of measurable saving on energy use.

Energy reduction is attractive for providing savings for operating homes and businesses. Installing high SEER without regard for proper design and installation is unfortunate for the industry and a disregard for the customer.

I am not a believer of SEER and its influence on unaware customers with no information to enable them to make intelligent decisions when it comes to purchasing HVAC equipment. No company provides before and after data to justify their sale.

Any process that cannot be readily measured for benefits, while leaving opportunities for miss conclusions at high costs to suppliers and customers should be evaluated closely.

EER on the other is easily measured and decisions can be readily applied based on the results. EER represents the Energy Efficiency Ratio and is the relationship of the BTUH / divided by the unit electrical in watts. It should however be noted that EER changes as the weather conditions between indoor and out door changes.

Other installation concerns such as duct sizing, duct sealing, equipment selection, refrigerant line sizing and installation and general installation practices contribute to operating cost and indoor air comfort.

When the above procedures are in-co operated into an installation and high SEER equipment is part of the installation, both the installer and the customer benefits greatly.

The HVAC industry, Government regulatory agencies and regulatory bodies should provide the environment for customers to be satisfied with services that they pay for. They need to be able to compare the operation cost pre and post installation.

Friday, January 27, 2012

High capacity filtration, UVC lamps and Quarts filtration for improving Indoor Air.

Jules Williams.   BAP BPI.                    IAQ Blog. 1/27/2012.

 Indoor air quality  is  one of the greatest concern  for comfort air-conditioning designers today. Indoor air is much more polluted when compared to out- door air.
We are experiencing higher reports of respiratory illness  today compared to any period in the history of modern medicine. The HVAC industry  has been addressing indoor air problems using high capacity filtration, ultraviolet and ozone treatments.

Ozone generation, accumulation and control have been a concern for indoor inhabitants and added resistance to HVAC systems caused by high capacity filtration has been a problem for HVAC design and installation.
A whole house duct mount HEPA Air Cleaner with Ultra Violet light and Photo Catalytic Filter is now available for providing clean indoor air without  adversely affecting the operation of the HVAC system, while providing exceptionally clean indoor air.

How it works.
Millions of airborne pollutants are carried through the air ducts of HVAC heating and cooling systems during normal operation. This compromises the quality of the indoor air. This air purifier is designed to be installed on the return side of the HVAC installation. A portion of the return air is diverted through the air purifier and goes through a 5 stage filtration system.
The air passes through pleated Carbon Pre-filter where lint and large particles 0.3 microns and larger are removed. The clean air passes through a reflection chamber where 2 ultra violet Germicides lamps emit powerful UVC light rays which are designed to kill or inhabit bacteria, viruses, mold, fungus, and microbiological growth. The lamps are producing no ozone. The ultra violet is also used to activate the Cinquartz media located below the UV lamps.
The photo catalytic oxidation filter is a quartz media coated with nanoparticles of titanium dioxide. The combined action of the UVC light and the Titanium Dioxide decomposes organic materials into basic molecules such as H2O and CO2 and reduces odors and volatile organic compounds as a result.
A carbon potassium permanganate final filter further reduces VOC’s and light gases. Clean air is returned to the occupied space.
My concern with the addition of the unit is the added  cost for operating the unit. The unit  consumes 1.7 amps and the recommendation is to operate the unit continually. This equates to 4896 watt hours or 5kWH.

The additional cost associated with operating the HVAC  with this enhanced filtration system should be compared  with the health derived from the air treatment delivered. Manufacturers have indicated an interest in installing variable speed motors into the units. Replacing the constant speed motor with a variable speed will significantly reduce the operating cost of the unit.

Air treatment using high capacity filtration, carbon filters and ultraviolet radiation has proven worthy of their ability to treat indoor air. This unit increases substantially this effort.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Weather helped the HVAC industry in Texas last year.

Will summer temperatures be as kind to the HVAC industry in Texas this year as it was last year??
Last year's summer weather was good for air-conditioning in the Houston and greater Texas area. Several records were broken and we experienced one of the warmest years on record.
What will be the effect of weather on the HVAC industry for 2012?
Weather pridiction for 2012: Just Weather
Winter temperatures will be milder than normal, on average, with much-below-normal rainfall. The coldest periods will occur in early and mid-December, early January, and early February. Snowfall will be below normal and limited to the north, with the snowiest periods in mid-December and early January.
April and May will continue warmer than normal, with rainfall above normal in the north and below normal in central and southern areas.
Summer will be a bit cooler than normal, on average, with the hottest periods in mid-June and early and late July. Rainfall will be slightly above normal in The Valley, but below normal elsewhere, with drought a threat.
September and October will be much cooler than normal, with rainfall below normal in the north and above in the south. Expect hurricanes in mid-September and early October, especially in The Valley.
2011 Weather:
May 2011 was drier than normal across most of Texas, particularly in North Central and East Texas, though rainfall throughout the month was characterized by isolated locations picking up excessive amounts of precipitation. By the end of the month, East Texas had moderate drought conditions as dryness in May, normally one of the wettest months of the year, combined with much warmer than normal temperatures.
            Temperatures in May 2011 across West Texas were near normal across the western half of Texas and much above normal in the eastern half of the state. College Station had its second warmest May and Houston had its third warmest May on record. In particular, the end of the month provided a historically hot stretch of weather in Central, East, and Southeast Texas. Houston Hobby set or tied a daily high temperature record each day and Galveston tied the high temperature record on both the 28th and 29th. Waco tied a record high on the 29th, barely missing becoming the eight May day since 1902 to top 100°F. Ironically, Midland was the only first-order station to reach the century mark in May, topping out at 100°F degrees on the 6th, though it had the largest monthly maximum temperature departure from normal. Pecos had the highest maximum temperature in the entire contiguous United States each day in the period from the 21st through the 23rd (104°F, 102°F, and 100°F). Earlier in the month, Laredo accomplished the same feat from the 11th through the 13th (103°F, 100°F, and 97°F).
June 2011 has entered the record books as a tie for the fourth warmest month, and the hottest June in all of Texas weather recorded history! With a statewide average temperature of 85.2°F, the heat dominated most of Texas and hit West Texas, the Panhandle, the Southern Plains, and North Texas the hardest. Cities like Wichita Falls, San Angelo, and Lubbock had average temperatures of 9.8°F, 9.4°F, and 8.8°F above normal, respectively. In addition, twenty-five highest maximum temperature records were broken, and thirty-two records were tied across the state. Paducah skyrocketed to 118°F on June 27th and was the warmest temperature in the U.S. on that day. However, it only tied the record set back in 1994. Galveston shattered its’ previous monthly record by 3°F on the 5th with a high maximum temperature of 99°F.
            The excessive heat took its’ toll on Texas during June and played a major role in the continuing, devastating drought. The current drought was officially named as the third-worst drought in Texas history with a Palmer Drought Severity Index value of -6.37 for June 2011. Also, this month tied for the 5th driest June in history, and became the driest nine-month record (October-June) ever by almost an inch. In early June, more than 50% of the state was classified to be in an ‘Exceptional Drought’ and the percentage expanded to more than 70% by the time July rolled around. With the exemption of parts of Northeast Texas, the drought monitor showed exceptional drought across much of the state by the end of June. Most of Texas received little rain and ended below 50% of the percent average of total precipitation, excluding areas such as Austin, Bryan/College Station, the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Lubbock and Midland went without rain altogether!
July 2011 was a hot one, folks! Both daytime and nighttime average temperatures were above normal all across the state and Wichita Falls led the pack with a mean temperature of 92.9°F, 8.1°F above normal. Six stations obtained average maximum temperatures above 100°F and all cities, except Brownsville, were at least 3 degrees warmer than the normal mean maximum temperature. Numerous stations witnessed a sweltering trend of consecutive days in the triple digits. Excluding Galveston, Brownsville, and Corpus Christi, all of the cities reached absolute maximum temperatures above 100°F at some point during July. Wichita Falls recorded 111°F, and DFW and San Angelo recorded highs of 106°F this month. Notably, the high minimum temperatures were extremely warm during July.
            The dry conditions and excessive heat served to intensify the “Exceptional Drought” conditions across most of the state. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor , over 75% of Texas was experiencing the worst-possible drought scenario on July 26th. Sections of North Central Texas and far South Texas were the only places not enduring severe, extreme, or exceptional drought conditions
·        Galveston: 85 (tied all-time July record) on July 23, 2011
·        Previous record: 85 on several dates, most recently on June 27, 2011