What is PCM?
Insulation can be an integral part of any commercial building. It seals out the cold and the heat and helps keep buildings at a comfortable temperature. PCM, or phase change material, is similar to insulation in that it helps regulate a building’s temperature. But PCM isn’t actually considered to be insulation. In fact, it’s much better.
How PCM Works
While traditional insulation works to keep cold or heat outside of a building, PCM actually uses the temperature outside to help heat or cool a building.
Made with natural materials like sand and clay, the material is basically a large ice pack with a melting pelt that falls within a comfortable temperature range for a building. As a building heats up, PCM absorbs that heat and then releases it once the building temperature starts to drop.
PCM technology helps mitigate a building’s temperature swings. Using it can reduce the need for commercial buildings to use air conditioning and heating, bringing down energy use and saving money.
PCM vs. Traditional Insulation
PCM is not a replacement for traditional insulation. While insulation is needed to protect a building from the elements, PCM enhances a building’s ability to maintain comfortable temperatures inside.
Traditional insulation just provides the bare bones a building needs to function, while PCM actively works to slow temperature change so that your HVAC system doesn’t have to. PCM can also reduce peak temperatures in a building. At the hottest point in the day, air conditioning isn’t always enough to keep a building comfortable, but with PCM, your building will stay at a cooler temperature with no extra effort.
Unlike traditional insulation, PCM can also be used for load shifting. Because energy rates are lower at night, buildings with PCM can save money by running their HVAC systems overnight and storing energy in the phase change material. During the day, once electricity rates have gone up, buildings can rely on the phase change material to regulate the temperature instead of costly HVAC units.
How To Get PCM
Regular insulation is usually installed when a building is built, and it has to be bought and paid for with the building. For purchasing PCM, there is much more flexibility—whether it’s for a new building or being retrofitted into an old one.
One of the most novel ways to get PCM into a building is to use the monthly utilization agreement offered by D.I. Pathways. With the monthly utilization agreement, building owners don’t buy PCM outright. Instead D.I. Pathways’ technicians will install their own PCM and maintain it in the building for one low monthly fee. The fee is always less than the monthly energy savings that PCM brings, making the fee a money-saving investment.