On Star Trek, when crew members walk into their cabins, the door shuts automatically, the lights adjust, and custom food orders are delivered via the “Replicator.” But that’s not all. No matter where in the universe the crew travels, this heating and cooling system of the future handles the changing temperature demands of interplanetary travel.
While we don’t yet have the ability to produce food on demand from a machine, we are getting closer and closer to that kind of automated climate control in each room of the house!
With the dramatic changing weather patterns, our heating and cooling systems will be more important than ever. In fact, industry leaders predict that global spending on HVAC systems will grow from $202 billion dollars in 2020 to $277 billion by the end of 2025.
There’s an exciting future ahead for the modern furnace…and here’s why you’ll be excited, too!
As furnace designs improve, they become more efficient, needing less fuel and conserving the resources of the planet. You’ll be excited about that because you’ll save money AND protect the earth for your children, grandchildren, and generations to follow.
Here are some exciting trends in the future of the furnace:
Ductless or Mini-Split Systems
You can now get a system that doesn’t require you to do extensive ductwork. They’re called “ductless” or “mini-split” systems, and they’ve come a long way from their beginning.
This system is growing in popularity and efficiency, partly because they don’t cost as much to operate long-term as central air. The cost of the installation, however, is not cheaper than central air and can cost 30% more than the installation of central air.
Ductless systems do offer several advantages. First, they are more efficient. Because there are no ducts, no air escapes and is lost as it goes into the duct. Loss of air around ducts accounts for more than 30% of the energy consumption of a system.
Mini-splits also allow for zoning and heating of individual rooms on demand. Up to four ductless units can be connected to just one outside unit. Each room has its own thermostat and its own controller, so no money is wasted heating or cooling a room when no one is in it.
Easy installation is also a plus for the ductless systems, and homeowners have the option of having them installed on a wall, hung from the ceiling, flush-mounted in the ceiling, or using a free-standing floor unit.
Automated, Remote-Controlled Furnaces
In this day and age, everything has an app. Now, you can control your furnace (and air conditioning, too) with an app on your phone or computer as long as you have a WIFI thermostat. Your home can be comfortable when you arrive. The minute you walk in the door, you’re in your comfort zone. (See. Closer to Star Trek than you thought!)
An alternate approach to the WIFI thermostat is the use of a programmable thermostat. These thermostats can be set to the desired temperature on any given day and time, keeping you from heating a home when it’s not necessary and saving you money.
Can you stand a little more excitement? Those apps that control your furnace while you’re away are becoming more prevalent than ever before. You can now control your household appliances with your phone or computer. Lower the blinds to keep the heat in on a rainy day? You bet. Turn on the ceiling fan to circulate air? Yes, indeed.
All the modern innovations of the computer age help us reduce fuel consumption, increase efficiency, and lower costs.
Geothermal systems use the temperature of the earth to regulate the temperature in your house. A series of underground pipes extract the heat or the coolness of the ground and then move it in water through the pipes. (You’ve heard that the temperature in caves is consistent throughout the year? The same is true of the ground.)
These geothermal systems are expensive to install but are an exciting option for the future because they don’t require any chemical refrigerant to work. Furthermore, they are 2-4 times more efficient than other systems.
Geothermal systems aren’t effective in very cold climates because the ground gets too cold too often, but here in Florida, they’re a definite possibility.
Other Future Trends for Your Furnace
Sensor-driven air vents
Scientists are working on sensor-driven vents. Walk into a room, and airflow will be automatically directed toward you. This system is new, but it can also monitor the room’s temperature, the quality of the air, and the air pressure. Something as simple as directing air vents can generate a 30% savings on energy and increased comfort. You can manipulate the “Ecovent” with an app.
Harnessing the heat generated by other appliances to heat your home is also being studied by a company called Project Energy.
Think of this. Do you know how much heat your refrigerator puts off when it’s running? Have you ever worked for a couple of hours with a computer on your lap? (Whew, hot pants for sure!) If the heat coming off a simple computer could be harnessed, we will change the structure and design of furnaces in the future.
At this point, we can’t just walk into a room, order a piece of chocolate cake and have it magically appear in a Replicator like it did on Star Trek, but our furnace and cooling systems can be automatically set, controlled remotely, and adjusted to our needs from anywhere in the world.
The future of furnaces is a bright and exciting place where we are just beginning to boldly go where no one has gone before!
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