Most air conditioning units are energy hogs that can send an electric bill sky high, often leading people to limit their use. A new device called BeCool cools (or heats) the air while charging up a fuel cell at the same time, could transform the whole approach to indoor climate control by generating electricity rather than just sucking it up. The invention comes from Be Power Tech, a startup based in Florida, where air conditioning is not just a luxury, but also a lifesaver.

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Instead of plugging into the grid for its power source, Be Power Tech’s BeCool commercial HVAC unit runs on natural gas. Where the individual unit is considered, the result is a more energy efficient air conditioning system. If more people relied on natural gas-based air conditioners, some of the strain on the power grid would be alleviated during peak times of usage, such as during a heat wave or simply at that point in mid-afternoon when the day’s heat reaches its apex.

Related: Infographic shows surprising trends in summer energy usage across the United States

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The BeCool system is a roof-mounted unit that directly replaces standard 10-ton air conditioning systems, and the company will begin field trials on commercial units in 2017, expecting to hit the market the following year. The system relies on evaporative cooling technology developed at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and licensed by the Florida company exclusively. The system promises to reduce energy costs by 67 percent or more, with a 70 percent reduction in peak time usage.

BeCool, which is also capable of functioning as a heating unit, is also an environmentally friendly system. Its inventors claim installing one of their HVAC units is the equivalent of removing five cars from the road, due to the reduction in emissions gained both by fueling the unit with natural gas and by its clean energy generation.

Via Scientific American

Images via Be Power Tech