HVAC systems are the largest energy-consuming loads in residential and commercial buildings. Because of this, energy efficiency measures that target HVAC are achieving major savings. Upgrading your HVAC system to save energy should not affect the indoor environmental quality, or they can cause health issues or discomfort. In business settings, this will have a negative impact on productivity.
Because it can improve both energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality, Artificial Intelligence has promising applications in HVAC systems. Artificial Intelligence can also optimize variables like airflow, temperature and humidity - conserving air quality with the lowest possible energy consumption.
HVAC Control: A Technical Challenge
Because building conditions are constantly changing, Controlling an HVAC system effectively is difficult. Consider the following aspects:
- Outdoor temperature is constantly changing, affecting the heating or cooling required to keep a indoor temperature comfortable.
- Entering and leaving buildings all the time affects ventilation needs and temperature control.
- The indoor activities also affect HVAC needs. For example, a commercial kitchen needs more ventilation and cooling than an office of the same size.
The HVAC needs of a building change constantly. Smart control systems can process all this data in real time, and adjust the HVAC system accordingly. An HVAC system with manual controls cannot reach peak performance, due to the variable working conditions.
Ventilation System Smart Controls
Air handlers consume less energy than a/c units and space heaters. However, the outdoor airflow provided to a building affects heating and cooling needs.
- For example, if a ventilation system increases airflow during winter, more heat is needed for a larger volume of cold outdoor air.
- The same applies for air conditioning when the ventilation system increases airflow during summer.
A lot of buildings have ventilation systems that operate at full airflow all the time. This is a major waste of energy, for the reasons previously described. When ventilation controls has AI controls, they can determine the optimal airflow required by the building system. The system can also track the number of occupants in the building, and the concentration of key air pollutants like VOCs and particulate matter.
Over ventilation is also a waste of energy, while underventilation is detrimental for indoor air quality. An AI controlled ventilation system prevents both. There is only one important requirement: the ventilation system must never reduce airflow below the minimum value required by local building codes.
Space Heating and Air Conditioning Optimization
Built-in Artificial Intelligence systems are now available for furnaces, boilers, chillers, mini-splits and other HVAC equipment. By upgrading old equipment, major energy savings can be expected. Improved performance is also possible when smart controls are used for the entire HVAC system.
Heating and cooling controls must balance energy consumption and human comfort, the same as ventilation controls must balance energy consumption and air quality. According to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), human productivity reaches its peak at around 21°C - 22°C.
- Discomfort starts as the temperature increases or decreases.
- When the temperatures become more extreme, it becomes detrimental for health and eventually life-threatening.
Extreme temperatures are unlikely in building interiors, even with a deficient HVAC installation. However, the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) worsens gradually as the temperature deviates from the ideal range.
Contact us today to learn how we can save you money on your system!