Insulation as part of an energy efficient air-conditioning system
When it comes to designing a balanced and energy efficient air-conditioning system it’s the big components that grab all of the attention but there’s one thing that should never be far from your mind: insulation.
Efficient by design
Air-conditioning represents one of the biggest areas of energy use in the UK today but some systems are far more efficient than others. Consultants strive to create systems that operate for shorter periods of time, cool the minimum volume of air and locate the various components of the system as close together as possible.
Good structural insulation is as important for space cooling as it is for heating. A building insulated to modern standards will retain the cooled air for longer.
Effective time controls and understanding the demands that building occupants will place upon the system is also very important. Studies have shown that more effective time controls alone can reduce energy use from an air-conditioning system by up to 50%.
Shorter pipes, less energy loss
The physical layout of the air-conditioning system is often taken for granted but it shouldn’t be. Every metre of air-conditioning pipe will experience heat gain and the most effective way of minimising this heat gain is to make the pipe runs as short as they can possibly be.
Insulating these pipes is another way to reduce energy loss from the system but even the best insulated pipes will still lose some energy.
The role of pipe insulation
Air-conditioning pipes should always be insulated to prevent condensation that can lead to pipe corrosion. This is the primary function of insulation on these pipes but a thickness to control condensation will also offer a high level of energy saving.
Just 13 mm of Kaiflex ST could save upwards of 70% of all energy that could be lost from air-conditioning pipework. Increasing the thickness will offer additional energy saving but the potential for further energy saving is limited.
Kaimann’s advice when looking to specify insulation for air-conditioning pipes is to comply with BS 5422:2009. This standard sees insulation as part of a system and recommends that you insulate to prevent condensation – only increasing the thickness if the total heat gain to the pipes exceeds 5% of the total system load.