Last Updated on April 4, 2022 by Admin
Buildings have a surprisingly high carbon footprint. While they may not be the most obvious culprit for greenhouse gas emissions, 47% of U.S. households use natural gas as their primary heating fuel. Fossil fuels are also common in cooking and laundry, with gas stoves and water heaters releasing more harmful pollutants.
Electrification is a necessary step toward sustainability goals within the building industry. Apartments that move away from fossil fuel reliance can transition to green electricity, virtually eliminating related emissions. Here’s a glance at some of the new technologies that enable this move.
In a new study on building electrification, researchers compared and outlined the technologies with the greatest potential for reducing emissions. Heat pumps, which redirect heat instead of producing it, are among the most promising. These systems can draw warmth from geothermal sources, outside air, waste heat, and more to provide low-emissions heating and cooling.
Heat pumps take various forms, but they operate along the same principle. They redirect warmth to where it’s needed and away from where it’s not, often using refrigerant or water to carry it. This process is applicable across various use cases, from HVAC operations to water heating, and it can provide heating and cooling with a single system.
Moving heat consumes less power than generating it, so heat pumps can reduce tenants’ electric bills. A geothermal heating system can cut energy costs by 65% in some areas.
While heating is the largest use case for fossil fuel burning in apartment buildings, it’s not the only one. Cooking is another common application, with more than one-third of U.S. households using a gas stove. The best solution to electrify this part of the home is induction cooking equipment.
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Induction technology uses a magnetic field to excite molecules and create heat. It’s remarkably energy-efficient since this means a near-complete energy distribution from the cooking surface to the pot or pan. Induction also eliminates air quality concerns from gas and considering apartments typically have lower airflow than freestanding homes, that’s a substantial advantage.
Induction stoves and ovens used to be the exclusive domain of professional chefs. However, technological advances have made this equipment cheaper and more accessible, so it’s ideal for apartment use.
Clothes dryers are another area for electrification in apartment buildings. Apartment building owners and tenants may prefer gas dryers because they dry clothes faster and use standard electrical outlets. However, using both gas and electricity gives them a larger carbon footprint.
Condenser dryers, which combine washing machines and dryers, are the ideal replacement. Traditional electric versions don’t offer enough convenience or energy savings to provide any significant advantage over gas alternatives. By contrast, condenser dryers save time by automatically switching clothes between appliances and use less electricity due to their smaller size.
Since condenser dryers are more compact, they’re also ideal for use in apartment buildings, where space is often limited. Landlords will be able to fit more washing and drying units in the same area, providing for more tenants’ needs at once. These dryers have also come to match the drying efficiency of their larger counterparts as technology has improved.
Apartment Electrification Is Promising and Possible
Apartment buildings must embrace electrification to help the nation meet its emissions goals, but that can be challenging. Electrification must also cater to tenants’ needs, or it might make sustainability less popular. Building owners and managers must capitalize on new technologies to meet peoples’ requirements.
Heat pumps, induction cooking equipment, and condenser dryers show the most promise for apartment electrification. These technologies can help reduce fossil fuel reliance while providing day-to-day convenience benefits for tenants.
Jane is an environmental and green technology writer who covers topics in sustainable construction and green building materials. She also works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co.