As climate change remains a hot topic around the world, the HVAC industry is taking a hard look at itself. After all, HVAC technology hasn’t always been designed with the environment in mind.

A variety of trends have been shaping the HVAC industry in recent years, designed to make systems not only more efficient, but overall more environmentally friendly. Systems are relying on more modern refrigerants, but technology is doing a better job of meeting HVAC needs.

What technology can we expect in 2020? We’re already seeing the impact of these HVAC industry trends.

Smart Tech and the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things continues its relevance in 2020. It’s been more than a decade now since the introduction of the smart phone, and today’s consumer demands connectivity. It’s now possible for property owners and operators to monitor and adjust all sorts of home devices – including entire HVAC systems – with the touch of a button or a single voice command.

Smart thermostats have been trending for at least two years now, but 2020 promises to up the ante as smart HVAC systems become more mainstream. These systems can be controlled manually or remotely, so users can adjust their settings the traditional way or from anywhere with an internet connection.

Smart HVAC systems provide more than just remote temperature control. The technology also allows users to set schedules, receive maintenance reminders, dispatch contractors and even monitor efficiency from a smartphone.

Data and Automation

Now more than ever, property owners want data about their buildings. In 2018, 35 percent of companies surveyed by 451 Research said they were gathering data or planned to gather data on their building systems, including HVAC. That demand has only grown since then.

In response, HVAC manufacturers are introducing products to meet those demands.

Not only does this data assist users and technicians with optimizing their HVAC efficiencies, but now it’s being used to develop machine learning tools that reduce total energy consumption of the systems. Not only will these new systems respond to updated settings, they actually will predict what changes will be needed based on prior input and output signals.

Technology as a Service

HVAC efficiency certainly is improving thanks to technologies like smart controls and data analysis. But none of these feats are possible without specialized technology platforms that connect the data and create actionable insights. HVAC contractors can now rely on technology options like Motili to not only connect with customers, but also to submit work orders,  job photos, and even receive job site navigation.

Using their nationwide contractor network, Motili collects HVAC unit data from various customers to provide broad industry insight on HVAC assets and costs across properties and entire property portfolios. In addition, Motili provides customers with detailed reporting on repair and maintenance tasks and aggregates data to provide premium performance and optimize capital expenditure. Motili’s platform enables improved budgeting and helps identify projected equipment failures.

Zoning Systems

One of the most effective HVAC trends that promises to continue its path to dominance in 2020 is temperature regulation through zoning, which allows different temperatures to be set in different areas of a building. These temperature zones are created with ductwork dampers that allow users to use multiple thermostats to control HVAC settings room by room.

For example, one room might be set at a comfortable 68 degrees Fahrenheit, while another room just down the hall could be set to a cooler 65 degrees since it’s occupied less. Various bedrooms can even have their own temperature settings based on the occupant’s personal preference.

Zoning systems also can be set up on a floor-by-floor basis as opposed to room by room. Since a small temperature difference can make a great difference in energy use, these systems are providing the greatest optimization.

Growth Potential

The HVAC industry is expected to grow by at least 6 percent in 2020, and technological advances will be the hallmark of that growth. These developments not only boost convenience and lower utility bills, but they have the potential for a global impact on sustainability – a major plus for an industry that already accounts for about 40 percent of a building’s energy consumption.

With the global demand for air conditioning alone expected to triple by 2050, we need all the optimization we can get.

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