Skilled Trades

Heat Through Air Conditioning? Students Come Up with Cool Idea

Skilled TradesJune 23, 2015

In the hotter climate areas of the U.S., keeping cool can become an expensive proposition. Now imagine you live in Singapore where it’s hot and many residents have trouble affording the basics--much less the cost of running their air conditioner all day and night. Enter three students from Ngee Ann Poly Technical School—a career college located in Singapore--who developed a way to reduce air-conditioning expenses by reclaiming lost heat generated by A/C units and sending it to hot water tanks. This so-called “Domestic Waste Heat Recovery System” uses a heat exchanger to collect what used to be wasted heat and then re-directs it to hot water heaters. The system ends up saving the average user about $250 a year in hot water heater operations. 

Not only did these students find a way to help consumers save money, a recent study conducted in Tokyo found that wasted heat generated by air-conditioning units might actually increase urban temperatures from 1-to-2 degrees Celsius. Reports from Australia also suggest that HVAC units can be made more efficient by such simple heat load adjustments. Ideas such as the one developed by Singapore tech students point the way to design innovations that likely will guide future HVAC technology. 

While improving efficiency, these advances add another layer of complexity for up and coming HVAC technicians. For example, the Singapore heat transfer system requires regular descaling in order to function properly. It’s a case where a simple idea leads to a need for expanded maintenance education to teach the new skill.

What’s Next for HVAC Innovation?

Keeping pace with new technology and equipment is just one element of the HVAC programs offered at trade and vocational schools today. Graduates today must be trained in computerized diagnostics so they are able to service and repair today’s complex commercial and residential systems. Because of these advances, the job opportunities for trade, such as HVAC installers and mechanics, are expected be excellent nationally according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re considering a career as an HVAC professional, you can learn more about what it takes to become a technician and whether that’s a good career path for you by visiting and finding a program location that’s near you.