While legislative standards are continually evolving, the events of the past year will no doubt accelerate HVAC developments in several areas. Behavioural change and consumer demand often pave the legislative pathway. We anticipate trends for 2021 to centre on the key areas such IAQ (Indoor Air Quality), smart service frequency, efficiency and retrofitting.
IAQ such as ventilation and filters
The events of 2020 have shone a spotlight on IAQ in our built environment and this presents us with a clear opportunity for progressive change. Air filtration and ventilation are now considered a public health priority and so are high on the agenda for commercial and residential building owners and occupiers as well as industry associations such as Eurovent. With that in mind, in 2021 we’re likely to see an increase in demand for technology with IAQ features such as purification and sanitation built in the ACs, as well as an increase in retrofitting to address insufficient IAQ in older existing systems. For example, demand for high-level filters (which have existed in the market for some time) is likely to grow exponentially next year with consumer demand pushing change as we adjust to the new normal.
Smart service frequency
Demand for preventative maintenance has increased over the past year, along with the popularity of smart systems and functions built into AC technology. Elements like remote equipment monitoring, pre-alarm and maintenance support are increasingly considered as essential as owners and occupiers become more reliant on (and aware of) the impact AC has on quality of life and electricity consumption. A well-serviced unit is a more efficient and more effective one and services such as Taqeef’s newly launched Annual AC Service Product (Cool Protect) can capitalise on this demand. Much like a car service, we believe authorised HVAC servicing will become the norm, as people look to protect their investment (and their pockets) by ensuring their technology runs efficiently while reducing energy bills and promoting a healthy living and working space. For us, this should include a deep cleaning of indoor and outdoor units, along with ducting, noise and ventilation checks as a minimum.
With people spending more time at home, energy bills have increased, which can be a drain on already stretched resources. More efficient and intuitive AC systems will, as a result, grow in increasing popularity including those with high energy efficiency ratio (EER), usage of energy recovery devices, and error alerts for air leakage and other issues.
We will also see the impact of the drive for zero energy buildings with a trend towards smart technology and heat recovery devices (example heat wheel/3 pipe application) to recycle hot or cold energy and reduce carbon emissions.
We have already seen a trend in people upgrading their ACs this year – choosing units that are greener and cleaner and come with energy and cost-saving technology built-in. Integrating AC systems with smart technology, such as learning thermostats can optimise and increase efficiency outcomes. According to an independent study conducted by NEST thermostats, adding simple self-learning thermostats to a cooling system can lead to energy savings of 10-12%. These thermostats are connected to the occupants’ mobile phone and sense when they are away or not at home to save energy effectively. They also collect data and provide daily reports on energy usage behaviours and patterns to ensure the most optimised AC systems usage.
These market trends all point to an increase in the demand of retrofitting, which not only meets the above demand, but also provides a host of other benefits including lower maintenance costs, increased property valuations, safety and air quality improvements (IAQ), lower noise and more bespoke user comfort. Manufacturing associations such as Eurovent are expanding their scope and share of voice while pushing for more government incentivised retrofits throughout the region. So, while this area has been gaining traction over the past few years, it looks like 2021 will be the year where the retrofit market – pushed by IAQ and efficiency targets – becomes fully established throughout the region.