Commercial businesses can achieve annual energy savings of about 65 per cent using hyper-efficient commercial air-conditioning systems, according to engineer Jonathan Woolley, from the University of California's Western Cooling Efficiency Centre (WCEC).

During a visit to Australia this month, Woolley shared the results of recent laboratory tests on a range of different airconditioning systems.

“If businesses are serious about reducing the energy used for cooling then they have to embrace new technologies such as indirect evaporative cooling - because the efficiency of traditional vapour compression technology has not advanced to any great extent over recent years,” he said.

“Providing the climate is appropriate, a commercial business should consider investing in hybrid indirect evaporative cooling options, and Climate Wizard has consistently achieved the highest efficiency ratings in our laboratory and field evaluations.”

The WCEC has just completed a study of commercial cooling installations which found that about 80 per cent of airconditioning equipment in commercial buildings in the US are reverse cycle rooftop boxes.

“There are much more efficient options to improve energy efficiency,” Woolley said.

“Some new reverse cycle airconditioners use 50 per cent less energy but most savings are from part load operating conditions. They don't deliver savings at peak load.

“Lab and field tests show that indirect eaporative cooling combined with reverse cycle can generate 65 per cent savings,” he said.

“We added a Climate Wizard to old rooftop boxes and saw immediate savings.”

Woolley said it takes time for the market to embrace new technology which is why the WCEC now has a social anthropologist on the team.

“Her job is to try and understand why there is so much industry inertia when it comes to new technology,” he said.

With airconditioning accounting for about 50 per cent of peak power demand in major cities, energy efficiency is more important than ever.

Seeley International founder and executive chairman, Frank Seeley, welcomed the research findings, which are drawn from tests of hybrid indirect evaporative cooling units paired with high efficiency vapour compression systems.  

“Climate Wizard overcomes the performance shortcomings of traditional evaporative airconditioning operating in humid climates and offers comfort conditions that are equivalent to, or better than, conventional refrigerated airconditioning – and it does all of that with reduced electricity consumption,” he said.

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