Air conditioning can be a lifesaver when it comes to hot, crowded rooms. But when the crowd clears and the room is left unattended, why waste energy to air-condition it? Instead, researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) suggest installing a ventilation system that automatically adjusts fan speed to the number of people in the room, saving both money and energy. According to their report, installing these sensors could save the typical U.S. office building 18%, or about $40,000 a year, on energy consumption.
Guopeng Liu, lead author of the PNNL report, said “This is the reason you often feel cold when you’re in a big space like a conference room or cafeteria without a lot of people. Technology today doesn’t detect how many people are in a room, and so air flow is at maximum capacity nearly constantly.”
This type of technology still needs to be perfected, however. Building owners aren’t likely to install a system unless it’s affordable and doesn’t require rewiring. James Freihaur, chief scientist at DOE’s Energy Efficient Buildings hub, says building codes may also pose a challenge, as many require constant ventilation within the commercial structure.
Cool by the Numbers, Science Magazine
Smart air conditioning could save business $100k a year, RTCC