Guest Post: Purdue College scientists present us one great approach to reduce 50% of winter heating bills

A simple stylized diagram of the refrigeration...
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This is a special feature for More From Less – a Guest Post! This article was written by Rosalind Dall, who writes for the Ductless Split System Air Conditioner Blog, her personal hobby blog related to tips to help people consume less energy and purify indoor air.

Researchers at Purdue University are working on a new research project that promises the possibility to reduce heating bill in half for folks who reside in very cold climates. The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, builds on previous work that began about 5 years ago at Purdue’s Ray W. Herrick Laboratories.

Heat pumps provide heating in winter and cooling in summer but are not efficient in extreme cold climates. The published research involves changes to the way heat pumps operate to make them more effective in extreme cold temperatures.

The modern technology works by modifying the conventional vapor-compression cycle behind standard air-con and refrigeration.

The normal vapor-compression cycle has four stages:

  1. Refrigerant is compressed as a vapor
  2. Condenses into a liquid
  3. Expands to a mixture of liquid and vapor
  4. Then evaporates

The project will investigate two cooling approaches throughout the compression process.

In one approach, relatively large volumes of oil are injected into the compressor to absorb heat generated throughout the compression stage.

In the second approach, a combination of liquid and vapor refrigerant from the expansion stage is injected at various points during compression to provide cooling.

The newest heat pumps can be half as expensive to operate as heating technologies now utilized in cold regions where gas is unavailable and residents make use of electric heaters and liquid propane.

In the meanwhile here some suggestions to improve you home air quality and save energy:

  • Be sure your thermostat is located in a place that’s not too cold or hot.
  • Install an automatic timer to keep the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees during the night time.
  • Use storm or thermal windows in colder areas. The layer of air between the windows acts as insulation helping to keep the heat inside where you are interested.
  • If you haven’t already, insulate your attic and all outside walls.
  • Insulate floors over unheated spaces such as your basement, any crawl spaces and your garage.
  • Close off the attic, garage, basement, spare bedrooms and storage areas. Heat just those rooms that you use.
  • Seal gaps around any pipes, wires, vents or other openings that could transfer your heat to areas that aren’t heated.
  • Dust is a wonderful insulator and tends to build up on radiators and baseboard heat vents.

Most people don’t know that common indoor air quality practices reduce home air heating costs too:

  • Rain and high humidity may bring moisture indoors, creating dampness, mold spores — big problems for healthy indoor air. Check your roof, foundation and basement or crawlspace once a year to catch leaks or moisture problems and route water away from your home’s foundation.
  • Help keep asthma triggers away from your property by fixing leaks and drips as soon as they start. Standing water and moist encourage the growth of dust mites, fungus — some of the most common triggers that can worsen asthma. Make use of a dehumidifier or air conditioner if needed, and clean both regularly.
  • High levels of moisture in your home increase dampness and the growth of mold, which not only damage your property but threaten health. Install and run exhaust fans in bathrooms to get rid of unhealthy moisture and odors out of your home.
  • Ventilate your kitchen stove directly outside or open a kitchen window when you cook. Keeping exhaust — including cooking odors and particles — outside of your home prevents dangerous fumes and particles from harming you or your family.
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