Off-peak air conditioning systems will soon be coming to a home near you. Off-peak systems have been saving companies a lot of money for years by reducing energy costs and have proven their effectiveness. Leading air conditioning companies are producing residential units that can be added to your existing system. Take our quiz now to see if you are ready to cool off with off-peak air conditioning.
The first air conditioner was invented by a man named Willis Carrier in 1902. He invented it to reduce heat and humidity causing smudged pages at a printing plant.
The first home air conditioner was introduced in 1928. The unit was called the Weathermaker.
One of the best ways to save on air conditioning costs is to switch over to an off-peak cooling system. Off-peak systems take advantage of the cheaper utility rates offered during non-peak hours.
In spite of lower rates attached to off-peak electricity, utilities still make money because they can reduce use of more expensive peak electricity and defer capital costs associated with increasing capacity. There is an excess of power available late at night because almost everyone is in bed.
Conventional air conditioners use energy less efficiently as the day becomes hotter. When air conditioners work extra hard there is less time for a full cycle to take place at maximum efficiency.
Utilities are forced to buy expensive power off the grid in order to cover peak demand. Even worse is that some utilities activate older generating facilities during the day to cover extra demand even though these plants generate more pollution.
Moving automated tasks like laundry, dishwashers and air conditioning to off-peak hours reduces the need for more generating facilities. Fewer generating facilities using fossil fuels equals a better environment.
Off-peak systems freeze water in special insulated tanks at night. A refrigerant such as ethylene or propylene glycol mixed with water, which is chilled to well below freezing.
Once the water is frozen, the system uses very little energy to maintain the water in a frozen state until it is required during daytime cooling hours.
Off-peak cooling systems are also referred to as thermal energy storage (TES) systems. Until recently TES systems were only available for large institutions but newer technology has allowed smaller systems with high operating efficiency.
Nowadays tanks can be designed to be located almost anywhere. Some companies even bury the tanks underground, which provides further insulation from daytime heat.
Off-peak air conditioning systems take advantage of the electric utilities pricing structure to make them a viable alternative. With the cost of bringing more energy generation on line, this pricing structure is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Air conditioning volume is sized in tons. It takes one ton to cool 12,000 BTUs in an hour or one ton to cool about 500 square feet of space in an hour.
According to Ice Energy, their Ice Bear 50 system can save up to 95 percent off your peak energy demand when integrated with your existing system. The down side in the economics is the $4,000 to $18,000 price tag for an Ice Bear system.
The Night Sky Project developed a roof-mounted system using water that was spray-cooled by the night air and stored in a tank for peak period cooling. Analysis of five test systems resulted in a 50 to 90 percent reduction in peak cooling demand.