Sure, combined heat and power systems make sense for big industrial building complexes. But can recovered heat get put to work in the average residential household? The new Air Conditioner Water Heater (ACWH) unit from HotSpot Energy of Chesapeake, Virginia, answers this question with a resounding ‘yes.’
This SEER 18 mini-split air conditioner works on the commonsense notion that heat removed from a house isn’t just a nuisance, but rather an asset. The unit’s built-in heat recovery circuit can heat up to 100 gallons of water per day without consuming any extra energy in the process, leveraging the fact that your home essentially acts like a giant solar thermal collector during the day. Rather than throwing this heat out, the HotSpot ACWH system uses it to heat water, which it then transfers directly to your hot water tank.
The ACWH unit is a ductless unit designed to cool one large room up to 1,000 square feet and was designed primarily for southern climates where air conditioners need to operate most of the year. It also has commercial applications in other climates, however, wherever hot water is needed and where a persistent cooling need exists — restaurant kitchens and laundry facilities, for example.
HotSpot company spokesperson Dan Diver said, in a statement, “For customers in the South, the air conditioner water heater saves about 30% in electric costs, and up to 100% in water heating costs, compared to a standard air conditioner and water heater.” He goes on to note that, based on these savings, the system can pay for itself in one to two years.