Still sweating over — and cursing — your air conditioner for contributing to this summer’s sky-high electric bills? It’s no secret that cooling systems, both central and window units, are huge household energy hogs, accounting for 60 to 70 percent of summertime electric bills.
There are conventional, EnergyStar-branded cooling systems available for consumer purchase as well as various steps one can take to rely less on that sweet, sweet AC, but there’s also a new breed of energy-efficient cooling systems worth looking out for.
Here are a few new notable entrants into the world of eco-friendly cooling devices that are designed to help you lower your carbon footprint while saving a few bucks when the balmy months hit:
Recently developed by Japanese electronics giant Panasonic — and spotted by MNN’s Jim Motavalli at the 2010 CEATEC electronics show in Tokyo — is the “smart” Eco Navi (eco-navigation) air conditioning system that includes five different built-in sensors that control temperature and airflow according to factors like the amount of light in a room, a room’s layout including the height and location of furniture, and the number of people in a room.
Meant to curb wasted energy, the Eco Navi air conditioner (there’s also a refrigerator and a washing machine that use Eco Navi technology) can also detect what exactly a person or people in a room are doing. For example, if one person in a room is partaking in some Wii Fit-ness while another is lounging on a couch, feet up, with a Kindle, the Eco Navi can sense this and provide air flow to the active person while limiting it to the idle person.
Another “smart” AC system that watches and cools you is Mitsubishi’s Kirigamine Move-Eye Navi room air conditioner.
Similar to Panasonic’s Eco Navi AC, Kirigamine Move-Eye technology incorporates a “Human Sensor Move Eye” system of infrared scanners that can detect the activity of a room’s inhabitants and cool accordingly.
Additionally, the Kirigame boasts a display panel that shows the electricity costs and carbon emissions being generated by its use so that users are “in the know” and can adjust their habits.
It’s estimated that the 5 kilowatt model can conserve energy up to 33 percent, saving users around $186 in annual electric bills.
But like Panasonic’s Eco Navi, the Kirigamine will initially only be available in Japan.
A less big brother-y cooling device that’s available in the U.S. is Dyson’s Air Multiplier, a striking-looking bladeless fan that runs on an energy-efficient motor.
Instead of cooling an entire house, one can move this money-saving, low-maintenance device from room to room as needed.
And in addition to keeping you cool, the Air Multiplier also serves as the ultimate conversation piece for houseguests.
Finally, if decking out your entire rooftop with photovoltaics isn’t an option, it’s now possible to operate (at least partially) one specific appliance, the air conditioner, with the power of the sun.
Unveiled in Korea over the summer of 2010 the LG Solar Hybrid Air Conditioner may be still connected to the grid but the 70-watt solar panel built into the top of this outdoor unit can eliminate around 466 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from entering atmosphere over a 10-year span.
No word on when LG plans to release this hybrid AC unit stateside or how much it will cost but renewable energy provided by the sun isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Got other tips on eco-friendly cooling? Let us know in the comments below.
MNN homepage photo courtesy of Dyson