Businesses and households across the U.S. are reporting skyrocketing energy bills due to inflation, geopolitical issues, and rising demand. Latiful Kabir, a top expert in heating and air conditioning systems, explained how new technology can help us save money.
Sky-high utility prices hit Americans hard this winter. A combination of rising energy demand and tight supply has doubled bills for some households in California. In Georgia, in the city of Canton, small businesses say the average utility rates tripled and even quadrupled. In Colorado, citizens are organizing to protest rate hikes, while the state’s legislators debate expanding an income-qualified program to help struggling citizens pay their energy bills.
This year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, households that heat primarily with electricity will spend 10% more than last winter, for an average of about $1,360. And those using natural gas will pay 28% more than they spent last winter, or about $930.
Most likely, the summer of 2023 will be even more energy-consuming. According to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC), large parts of the country are likely to see above normal temperatures. This means that electricity consumption, and bills, both for business and consumers, will be higher than normal.
Latiful Kabir, an advanced manufacturing engineer and expert in HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems), believes new technology could be a solution for the energy crisis.
How can businesses and consumers address increasingly high energy prices?
It’s not just about electricity rates: overusing cooling and heating systems has an impact on the environment and, in the long term, the costs for our planet and us humans could be higher. It’s a vicious cycle caused by climate change. Because of extreme temperatures, consumers use more energy, which in turn puts more pressure on the environment. Unfortunately, right now the only feasible solution, both for businesses and consumers, is to save energy. We should be more mindful. And we need to create a better HVAC system that consumes less energy.
What devices can you recommend? Are there any new solutions coming to the market?
Installing economizers could significantly reduce the amount of energy consumed by households, offices, data centers, factories and other working or living spaces. These devices can be integrated into the building’s HVAC system and improve indoor air quality.
Most existing HVAC systems consume too much electricity. That’s why I’ve been working on a new economizer with 90% efficiency. This device recently launched to the market and can save up to 50% electricity.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in mild climates economizers can reduce energy consumption by up to 60%. When used with demand control ventilation and efficient lighting, these devices can result in even greater energy savings.
What challenges did you face while working on this new technology?
It took me 3.5 years to work on this product’s design as part of a project at a global climate change innovation company. According to our estimates, the average household could save up to $1,500 a year on their electricity bill with our economizer.
Developing new technology during the pandemic wasn’t easy. The entire global supply chain was broken.
However, because my employer is the world’s leading HVAC company, I was able to find suppliers for this product.
Do consumers have access to economizers and other types of energy saving devices?
For now, economizers are normally used in Big Tech — Amazon, Apple and Google — because their data centers and servers need cooling. Our clients also include hospitals, clinics, and small grocery stores; so for now the use of our product is mostly commercial. But there are smaller residential economizers that you can install in your home.
Also, insulation systems can help both companies and consumers to save on their electricity bills. In fact, you waste a lot of energy if you live in an old building, such as the ones in New York City. A lot of New Yorkers are overpaying for energy because they have poor insulation in their homes.
In my home, simply installing insulation to cover every window brought my monthly energy bills down from $200 to $130. For many American families struggling with inflation this could be a game changer. And, for large companies and entire cities, the energy savings could reach billions of dollars.