There’s nothing quite like the feeling of walking out of the oppressive heat of a midsummer day into the perfect chill of a well air-conditioned building. Air conditioning is one of those modern conveniences like the cellular telephone: it hasn’t really been around that long, but now that we are used to it we wonder how people ever survived without it. However, there’s a high price tag – in most modern buildings air conditioning accounts for the single largest energy expenditure for the summer months and in many places for much of the year.
With conventionally powered electrical compressor heat pumps, that means that some of the first suggestions that an Eco Consultant is going to give a homeowner or business to reduce utility costs are going to have to do with optimizing the use of climate control systems in order to curb the appetite of these energy-hungry machines. But what if this wasn’t necessary? What if the hotter it got, the cheaper it got to run your AC? What if you could crank your thermostat to “cold” and let it rip without feeling the least bit guilty or apprehensive about what the bill at the end of the month was going to look like?
It looks like that dream is soon to become a reality thanks to the efforts of Hawaii-based solar firm Sopogy. They claim to have perfected a unique climate control system that achieves its cooling effects through the use of 100% solar heat exchange. That means that the hotter the sun shines and the hotter it gets, the more available energy there is for the solar system to use for cooling and the more efficiently the system performs. Pilot projects testing the technology have been implemented in a variety of different buildings including the San Diego headquarters of grid utility company Sempra Energy [NYSE: SRE] (which is heartening to know that even the guys that are making the juice are trying to figure out ways to avoid wasting it). The bottom line is that we all love our air conditioning and we all hate having to write the check to pay for it. However with systems like these available on a large scale within the next few years the day is coming that we will be able to crank the AC as much as we want and relax, while keeping our checkbooks on ice too.