Heat Pumps - Expert Commentary

U.S. Department Of Energy’s New Standards And Testing Ahead In January 2023
U.S. Department Of Energy’s New Standards And Testing Ahead In January 2023

Every six years, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) reviews how much energy certain home appliances and mechanical systems use and determines if an increase in energy efficiency requirements is justified. New energy conservation standards As a result of the 2017 assessment, the DOE has mandated new energy conservation standards that take effect on January 1, 2023, for all newly manufactured residential and commercial air conditioners, heat pumps, and gas furnaces.  In addition to the new standards, there are also new, more stringent test procedures for all residential and 3-5-ton light commercial, single-phase equipment manufactured on or after January 1, 2023. The new, more rigorous testing procedure will determine energy efficiency ratings for all residential and light commercial single-phase, air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured on or after January 1, 2023. The procedure increases external static pressure (ESP) by 60%, from 0.3 to 0.5, which more accurately reflects field conditions. New testing metrics The new test procedures will result in reduced, yet more precise, efficiency ratings Compared to the current SEER, EER, and HSPF ratings, the new test procedures will result in reduced, yet more precise, efficiency ratings. Because of this, new metrics and nomenclature were developed, including SEER2, EER2, and HSPF2. Minimum efficiency ratings will be reduced for these versus the 2023 SEER, EER, and HSPF minimum efficiency ratings for each region. “Johnson Controls is committed to helping our dealers, contractors and partners overcome the challenges that these new regulations bring through educational offerings that cover all new HVAC products and testing updates to make this transition as smooth as possible,” says Chris Forth, Vice President, Codes & Environmental Affairs, Ducted Systems, Johnson Controls. Webinars and training programs Specifically, Johnson Controls is updating all HVAC products beginning in 2022 to meet minimum requirements for air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured for 2023 DOE compliance and simultaneously making additional performance and efficiency improvements. They are also complying with new DOE testing procedures to conform to upcoming regulations. Johnson Controls’ ongoing webinars and training on the new regulatory changes will continue through 2022 and 2023 regulatory training will be provided for each future product update and launch. Efficiency standards Air conditioners installed in northern climates must achieve a 14.0 SEER rating or 13.4 SEER2 For air conditioners, efficiency standards vary by region. The U.S. is divided into three regions based on climate: North, South (east), and Southwest. The climate makes a big difference in how often air conditioners and heat pumps operate; those that operate more have greater opportunities for energy savings. Therefore, air conditioners installed in northern climates must achieve a 14.0 SEER rating, or 13.4 SEER2, while those installed in the southeast and southwest must achieve a 15.0 SEER rating or 14.3 SEER2. For heat pumps, efficiency standards are the same for each region. Heat pumps in every region must achieve a minimum efficiency of 15.0 SEER or 14.3 SEER2. Testing capabilities “Manufacturers need to retest, optimize and relaunch every product tier by the new testing procedure,” says Forth. “For some, the scale of this project is huge and unprecedented. Many manufacturers expanded their testing facilities and advanced their technology to ensure all products are tested and ready when they are needed. Johnson Controls has dedicated our Rooftop Center of Excellence in Norman, Oklahoma, to driving innovation in manufacturing technologies and testing capabilities.” Residential and commercial equipment The new efficiency minimum for commercial, single-phase air conditioners and heat pumps are 13.4 SEER2 For now, the new energy conservation standards and new testing procedures will affect residential equipment more than commercial equipment. The new requirements apply only to commercial equipment with a single-phase power supply. The minimum efficiency of commercial equipment with a three-phase power supply will continue to follow 2018 requirements until these systems convert to the new SEER2 levels at some point in the future. The new efficiency minimum for commercial, single-phase air conditioners and heat pumps are 13.4 SEER2. IEER will remain the primary metric for commercial, three-phase products above 65K Btu/hr, making part-load efficiencies more important and increasing the use of variable-frequency drives (VFDs). Consequences of non-compliant equipment There are several possible enforcement consequences DOE can take should a dealer or contractor installs non-compliant equipment, if a distributor supplies non-compliant equipment, or if a manufacturer knowingly sells non-compliant equipment. They might have to replace non-compliant equipment at their own expense, and repeat violators may be placed on a national “no-sell” list. They might also be prohibited from purchasing any of the seven classes of products identified in the Code of Federal Regulations (10-CFR-430.32) and could be subjected to fines. HVAC professionals can avoid accidental non-compliance by familiarizing themselves with the specific DOE regulations and by keeping accurate, up-to-date records of products sold per DOE requirements. 2023 DOE compliant equipment One of the biggest misconceptions among homeowners is how the standards affect their existing systems" Johnson Controls and other manufacturers are also helping dealers, contractors and technicians learn about the new requirements and working with them to ensure they have compliant equipment now and when the new requirements become effective on January 1, 2023. “One of the biggest misconceptions among homeowners is how the standards affect their existing systems,” says Forth. “It’s important for contractors to communicate to homeowners that the 2023 requirements only apply to new systems manufactured to meet the new DOE 2023 efficiencies. The functional equipment they currently have installed in their home does not need to be replaced.” Reducing energy consumption   The new DOE minimum energy efficiency requirements are part of ongoing efforts to reduce energy consumption in the U.S. and save home and property owners money. When the time comes to replace or upgrade existing systems, home and property owners will be able to select new higher efficiency, 2023 DOE compliant equipment, says Forth. “If HVAC installers have questions, most contractors and distributors are ready to help them understand and prepare for the 2023 minimum efficiency change and answer any questions they have,” says Forth. “Understanding the efficiency standards for their region is going to be critical before the standards go into effect. Preparation and planning now as to which systems and components meet their region's requirements regulatory requirements will make the transition easier.”

How To Heat Our Homes Without Hurting The Climate
How To Heat Our Homes Without Hurting The Climate

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is seemingly drawing to a close, living, working and learning at home is set to continue. Under this new normal, home electricity use is expected to double by 2050. Simultaneously, as climate change devastates communities around the world, we are faced with a moral and economic obligation to cut CO2 emissions from houses. Our goal is to build Net Zero houses and we can't get there fast enough. Fossil fuels use in heating systems Many countries continue to rely on coal, oil, or gas to power their heating systems. Continuing to rely on these fossil fuels, to keep us warm through harshening winters and cool throughout intensifying summers, simply adds to CO2 emissions. In fact, households account for 72% of global greenhouse gas emissions and energy-intensive HVAC systems are a core contributor to this. Whether you live in a hot or cold country, the result is the same - unsustainable carbon emissions. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is the inception point for homes to become sustainable. Sustainable standards in the home Regulation is already driving change in countries like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands It’s crucial that efforts to cut emissions don’t also cut living standards. Turning the heating off and suffering through the cold just isn’t an acceptable solution. The priority should be to cut emissions, not necessarily power consumption. Therefore, the use of clean energy for heating and cooling, as well as heating with ambient heat and heat pumps, could be an effective solution.  Regulation is already driving change in countries like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. In these countries, fossil fuels are being banned where more sustainable, renewable alternatives are available, chiefly for powering homes. Some countries use other mitigation strategies: in California, for example, all new homes must be fitted with solar panels by law.  Heat pumps popular in Europe As another way to sustainably power homes, heat pumps have already proven extremely popular in Europe, especially in Scandinavian nations. Electricity in these countries is already generated mainly by climate-friendly wind and hydropower. According to calculations by Fraunhofer ISE, heat pump systems in Sweden generate 90% fewer carbon emissions, in comparison to heating systems that rely on natural gas. Electrical vehicle (EV) charging However, renewable generation alone won’t be enough. When the wind isn’t blowing or the sun shining, renewable energy sources can suffer intermittency issues. Sadly, we’re not yet at the point, when all our domestic power needs can depend on renewable energy Electrical vehicle (EV) charging, which is becoming more popular, is a heavy load and expensive to charge at peak times. This can force us to switch back to traditional carbon-based sources when our power needs outstrip supply. Sadly, we’re not yet at the point, when all our domestic power needs can depend on renewable energy. At least, not without assistance from digital technology. Sustainable smart home technology To decisively cut emissions in the home, clean energy must be paired with the use of sustainable smart home technology. IoT-connected sensors and intelligent systems can provide the deep insight that we need to make impactful and responsible energy decisions. Effective energy management is central to efforts to decarbonize our dwellings. A lot of the energy consumed by HVAC is inevitably wasted, either through forgetting to turn it off, when it’s no longer needed, or heating rooms that aren’t occupied for most of the day. Preventing this becomes much easier, once you have visibility and control through smart energy management systems. Smart systems enable efficient renewable energy use Any home can be digitally retrofitted to become more efficient. Once energy is made visible through digital and IoT (Internet of Things), only then it can be measured and analyzed. Consumers are then empowered to make small changes to their consumption habits, to reduce wasted energy and its resulting emissions.  Smart systems can also facilitate more efficient use of renewable energy sources. When all smart systems are interconnected under one platform, AI algorithms can automatically adjust what source the house draws energy from. Combining digital retrofits, energy storage, and management When a home has access to energy storage technology, it can store up excess power generated by renewable sources When a home has access to energy storage technology, it can store up excess power generated by renewable sources, which can be used later, when the power demand is high. This ensures that non-renewable energy sources are only tapped, when absolutely necessary.  By combining digital retrofits, energy storage, and robust AI-powered energy management solutions, we can decarbonize our HVAC systems and our homes. A smart, connected approach to consumption can keep us warm in winter and cool in summer, without impacting the biodiversity around us. Smart homes: Powering change As our homes become fitted with more advanced IoT-connected devices, the ability to effectively manage our homes’ energy needs is indisputable. To keep costs and emissions down, a secure interoperable power management system is crucial, to becoming more sustainable and enhancing our quality of life. Businesses and governments need to ensure that people have the freedom to make sustainable living choices within the home, which don’t undermine living standards.

Seasonal HVAC Preventative Maintenance Tips
Seasonal HVAC Preventative Maintenance Tips

Seasonal transitions are the perfect time to take inventory and inspect a building’s various systems. We’ve been reminded for years that when we set our clocks back, we should also replace the batteries in our smoke detectors. The same thought process can be applied in support of seasonal preventative maintenance for a building’s HVAC system. Now that the cooling season has passed for a large part of the country, it is time to ensure that HVAC systems have been shut down properly for the winter months. A few simple checks and changes help ensure that the HVAC system is able to transition without failure, from the cooling season to the heating season. Enhancing energy efficiency of HVAC systems Home and building owner inspections can go a long way in increasing the energy efficiency of a system or in mitigating a more complex system failure. Taking a few minutes to inspect an HVAC system for irregularities can help keep repair costs and energy waste to a minimum. Here is a short and easy to complete HVAC inspection check list to execute to help maintain the system and ensure it runs in an energy efficient manner as the outdoor temperature begins to fall. Air filters The change of seasons is the perfect time to change out an HVAC system’s air filter The change of seasons is the perfect time to change out an HVAC system’s air filter. Filters are a key point in a building’s HVAC system, helping keep dust, pollen and larger particulate matter out, and potentially saving it from damage. HVAC equipment accounts for 40 percent of energy usage in a building, so any actions that positively affect energy efficiency are impactful. Not only is changing filters easy to do, but it also provides several benefits, such as improved energy efficiency, cost savings and it helps limit unnecessary stress on the HVAC system, by keeping the air entering it as clean as possible. Dirty, unchanged filters are a leading cause of issues with an HVAC system. The bottom line is that an air filter that has not been changed since the summer needs to be replaced. Inspect the HVAC system Now is a good time to walk around and view the entirety of a building’s HVAC system. How does it look? Make sure the system is clean and in good repair. Examine the ducts to ensure they are clean, undamaged and venting properly. If they are dirty or if there is suspicion that they are clogged, a duct cleaning by a professional may be needed. Remove any leaves or sticks that have gathered around the compressors. Clean the coils of any debris with a garden hose. Trim back any trees or bushes, which are in close contact with the unit. Make sure the condenser unit is still level. If it is not, it can impede the flow of refrigerant and oil, thereby leading to costly repairs. Take a look at the HVAC system to make sure there are no leaks, cracks or structural damage. A quick scan around and cleanup of an HVAC system can help it run longer and more efficiently. Inspect the boiler system Inspect the boiler system by looking for signs of old leaks, which can include stains around the boiler Corrosion is often associated with boiler systems. Inspect the boiler system by looking for signs of old leaks, which can include stains around the boiler or warped floorboards under radiators. Also, be on the lookout for water spots on the ceiling that is below the floor with radiant heat pipes. Make note of any corrosion you find throughout the system, including on the radiators, valves and other components. It’s a smart idea to have a professional inspect a boiler system each year, in order to maintain its functionality and ensure it is running safely, and optimally for a long time. Air Leaks An inspection may also reveal air leaks around doors and windows. These small leaks can add up to significant heat loss and energy costs. If sunlight is peeking through the areas around the perimeter of a window, door or skylight, there’s an air gap to be filled. A quick fix with caulking or weather stripping can ensure optimal energy efficiency. Also, inspect window panes for any cracks, as they will need to be replaced. Furthermore, double check that the windows and doors all close and lock properly. If they don’t, there’s an air leak that needs repair, as well. An inspection of doors and windows can keep a house warmer longer, and help keep the furnace from running over time to maintain a building’s ideal temperature. Shut down AC system for the season At the end of the cooling season, it is recommended that the air conditioning side of the HVAC system be shut off. When doing this, take a few minutes to clean the compressor with a brush and vacuum. Cover the unit with an insulated, waterproof cover that completely covers the whole unit. Secure the cover tightly, so it stays in place over the winter. This simple maintenance can help set up the system for success next year, while also maintaining its energy efficiency. Need for proactive system inspections and maintenance It’s important to evaluate a building’s HVAC system every season, as well as maintain its filters It’s important to evaluate a building’s HVAC system every season, as well as maintain its filters and the environment around the system. Being proactive about systems inspections and maintenance is the best way to keep a system running at peak efficiency, saving money and the environment, as well as providing peace of mind. With a few simple actions, home and building owners can keep their HVAC systems in good shape for longer, and be ready to go for the next season ahead. Motili’s predictive analytics improves budgeting accuracy Motili brings contractors, operations teams and the industry’s most advanced property management technology platform together, to assess and complete HVAC work requests, from start to finish. Motili automatically schedules, dispatches, manages and invoices job requests, and its predictive analytics improves budgeting accuracy, by predicting product life cycle. Motili leverages its nationwide network of over 2,000 contractors and 1,000 distribution centers, in order to provide HVAC and hot water services, across the United States of America, to customers both large and small in size.

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Johnson Controls Celebrates 50 Years Of Innovation Of Commercial HVAC Manufacturing Facility At Norman, Oklahoma
Johnson Controls Celebrates 50 Years Of Innovation Of Commercial HVAC Manufacturing Facility At Norman, Oklahoma

Johnson Controls, the globally renowned company in smart, healthy and sustainable building solutions, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the company’s commercial HVAC manufacturing plant in Norman, Oklahoma, USA. The 900,000 square-feet facility, known as Johnson Controls Rooftop Center of Excellence, serves as the company’s flagship location for industry research, manufacturing and testing of commercial rooftop units. Johnson Controls Rooftop Center of Excellence  In 1971, the facility shipped its first HVAC system, which was a pivotal milestone for the plant and the beginning of its long history of HVAC manufacturing and innovation. It was originally owned by Westinghouse, from 1971-1981 and subsequently purchased by YORK in 1981, which was acquired by Johnson Controls in 2005. “Over the last 50 years, there has been continuous improvement at the Norman facility to modernize and expand the plant, automate the manufacturing process, improve safety and ensure our products are built to the highest quality standards possible for our customers,” said Vicki Davis, Program Management Director, West region, at Johnson Controls. commercial rooftop units switch to refrigerant R-454B The most notable expansion that the Norman facility underwent was in April 2019 Vicki Davis adds, “These improvements will make it possible for us to ensure all commercial rooftop units meet and exceed DOE 2023 energy efficiency requirements, and will utilize the low-GWP refrigerant R-454B by 2025, to minimize our customers’ environmental impact and energy use.” The most notable expansion that the Norman facility underwent was in April 2019. The facility now features nearly 400,000 square-feet of incremental laboratory and manufacturing space, which includes a two-story, 52-foot high testing lab, which is roughly the size of one-and-a-half football fields. Extensive laboratory to conduct on-site development The extensive laboratory allows Johnson Controls to conduct on-site development, regulatory compliance, performance, safety, and reliability testing, including the ability to test a 150-ton rooftop unit, in climates ranging from -30ºF to 130ºF. The 2019 expansion also included renovations to more than 150,000 square-feet of office and meeting space. Since the facility has been operated by Johnson Controls, approximately 650,000 HVAC systems have been manufactured for Johnson Controls, under its brands of YORK, TempMaster, Luxaire, Coleman, Champion and Fraser Johnston brands. Today, approximately 1,100 people are employed at the facility. Pioneer in decarbonization of buildings With a history of making buildings more sustainable for 135 years, Johnson Controls is a worldwide company in the effort to decarbonize buildings. This includes developing solutions to facilitate the transition to electric-based heating and the development of OpenBlue, a suite of connected solutions that help drive building system efficiencies.

Johnson Controls Selects R-454B GWP Refrigerant In Their Ducted HVAC Equipment And Air-Cooled Scroll Chillers
Johnson Controls Selects R-454B GWP Refrigerant In Their Ducted HVAC Equipment And Air-Cooled Scroll Chillers

After extensive research, testing, and evaluation, Johnson Controls, the provider of smart, healthy, and sustainable buildings, has selected R-454B, a lower global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant, to replace R-410A in its ducted residential and commercial unitary products as well as air-cooled scroll chillers. Systems using the new refrigerant will be available for Johnson Controls, YORK®, Luxaire®, Coleman®, Champion®, TempMaster®, Fraser-Johnston®, Guardian®, Evcon™, and Quantech® branded products in North America, as well as specific international markets where codes are in alignment. High-GWP refrigerants This decision was made as the HVAC industry is preparing to phase out high-GWP refrigerants, such as R-410A, which are now being formally addressed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the recently passed American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. The AIM Act directs the EPA to phase down U.S. hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) production and use by approximately 85 percent over the next 15 years. Johnson Controls has determined R-454B be the best-in-class replacement refrigerant After evaluating several low-GWP alternatives on a variety of performance and market metrics, such as safety, capacity, efficiency, reliability, availability, and longevity, Johnson Controls has determined R-454B to be the best-in-class replacement refrigerant – a decision echoed by other HVAC manufacturers. R-454B has the lowest EPA SNAP approved GWP for unitary applications of all ASHRAE classified A2L (low-toxicity, mild flammability) refrigerants on the market, coming in at 466. Maximizing environmental benefits This is one-fifth the GWP of R-410A, far lower than the pending 750 GWP limits being proposed and offering the longest-term viability. “Utilizing R-454B was a clear decision, but one that took years of in-depth research, testing, and evaluation,” said Chris Forth, Executive Director of regulatory, codes, and environmental affairs, Ducted Systems, Johnson Controls. “This decision maximizes environmental benefits, which will help to avoid, if not completely avert, a second, near-term transition for the unitary sector. As the AIM Act phase-down schedule progresses, higher-GWP fluids such as R-32, while viable today, have the potential to be eliminated as an option due to their high-GWP values. Johnson Controls will continue to evaluate lower-GWP alternatives for future possibilities.” Improving system efficiency Existing R-410A equipment built prior to that date can be sold and installed indefinitely" In addition to reducing environmental impact, R-454B is more compatible with existing R-410A equipment designs, requires a less or similar refrigerant charge, and can reduce the energy use of HVAC systems and improve system efficiency. The similar operating characteristics with R-410A will make for a smoother transition for distributors, wholesalers, and contractors. “It’s important to note that these pending mandates from the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) would only apply to the sale of new residential and commercial unitary equipment as well as air-cooled scroll chillers. As the pending regulations stipulate a specific manufacturing cutoff date of January 1, 2025, for residential and light commercial unitary products and January 1, 2024, for air-cooled scroll chillers, existing R-410A equipment built prior to that date can be sold and installed indefinitely,” said Forth. Rule-Making processes “EPA and CARB are scheduled to begin their formal rule-making processes this year, which will determine how long of a servicing period will be granted for R-410A equipment currently in service.” As we approach the refrigerant transition cutoff dates, safety standards and building codes must be updated prior to a widespread market introduction of mildly flammable, low-toxicity A2L refrigerants such as R-454B. Extensive, multi-year research and testing have been conducted by ASHRAE, AHRTI, and others to ensure A2Ls can be safely deployed. Proper training will be critical to ensure the safe use, transportation, and storage of A2L refrigerants. Johnson Controls is committed to ensuring the safe transition to R-454B by providing in-depth training for its contractors and technicians prior to the pending refrigerant transition dates.

Johnson Controls HVAC Manufacturing Plant Powered By 100 Percent Renewable Wind Energy
Johnson Controls HVAC Manufacturing Plant Powered By 100 Percent Renewable Wind Energy

Johnson Controls, a global provider of smart, healthy, and sustainable buildings, is leading the charge on sustainable manufacturing with its continued commitment to green energy. The company’s 1.3 million square-foot HVAC manufacturing plant in Wichita, KS, is now powered by 100 percent wind energy. The plant manufactures residential heating and air conditioning equipment for the YORK, Luxaire, Coleman, and Champion brands. With this switch to renewable energy, the plant’s electricity is offset by zero carbon electricity, which represents 19 percent of Johnson Controls U.S. manufacturing electricity consumption. local wind power “With the Wichita plant now operating on 100 percent local wind power, this is not only a major achievement for Johnson Controls, but also the community. This change has dramatically reduced emissions and the plant’s environmental impact for many years to come,” said Joe Oliveri, Vice President and General Manager, Global Ducted Systems, Johnson Controls. “This is a prime example of Johnson Controls commitment to sustainability and a healthier planet.” Johnson Controls Wichita plant is receiving its wind energy from Evergy’s Soldier Creek Wind Farm, a 300-megawatt wind farm in Nemaha County, Kansas, that was completed in November 2020. The energy cost savings projections from the wind power agreement are expected to be approximately $2.7 million over the life of the 20-year contract - the equivalent of taking 100,000 passenger vehicles off the road. improved capacitor banks Evergy applauds Johnson Controls leadership in sustainability by using local, renewable energy" In addition, Johnson Controls will be installing improved capacitor banks to more efficiently consume the plant’s wind energy. This will lower the plant’s energy consumption by nearly 5 percent, equaling an additional energy savings of $3 million over the next 20 years. “Evergy applauds Johnson Controls leadership in sustainability by using local, renewable energy,” said Jeff Martin, Vice President, Community and Customer Operations, Evergy. “This commitment helps grow wind development in our area, driving investment in local communities and creating green jobs.” renewable electricity usage Since 2017, Johnson Controls reduced its GHG emissions intensity by 26 percent and energy intensity by nearly 6 percent. Building on this history of success, in 2021, Johnson Controls set new ambitious environmental sustainability commitments such as aiming to achieve zero carbon emissions before 2040 as well as reducing the company’s operational emissions by 55 percent and reducing customers’ emissions by 16 percent before 2030. In addition, the company aims to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity usage globally by 2040.

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