Natural ventilation is the ventilation of a building with outside air without using fans or other mechanical systems. It can be via operable windows, louvers, or trickle vents when spaces are small and the architecture permits. In more complex schemes, warm air is allowed to rise and flow out high building openings to the outside (stack effect), causing cool outside air to be drawn into low building openings. Natural ventilation schemes can use very little energy, but care must be taken to ensure comfort. In warm or humid climates, maintaining thermal comfort solely via natural ventilation might not be possible. Air conditioning systems are used, either as backups or supplements. Air-side economizers also use outside air to condition spaces, but do so using fans, ducts, dampers, and control systems to introduce and distribute cool outdoor air when appropriate.
A more efficient method of controlling humidity is to use the waste heat from the refrigeration cycle itself. Instead of rejecting the waste heat outdoors, the heat is directed inside when humidity control is required. One form of heat reclaim is called hot-gas reheat or “refrigerant desuperheating” where refrigerant is passed through a heat exchanger located downstream of the cooling coil. The hot high pressure vapor leaving the compressor passes through this heat exchanger prior to entering the condenser coil. This in turn heats the indoor air and again causes the AC system to run longer to meet the thermostat set point. Although more energy is used, this is much more efficient than turning on an electric heater. Another form of heat reclaim is called sub-cool reheat. This strategy takes the warm liquid refrigerant from the condenser and passes it through a heat exchanger located downstream of the cooling coil. Less heat is available using this method because the majority of the heat has already been rejected at the condenser. Since more energy is used to pump liquid (as opposed to a gas) through the heat exchanger it would appear that this method is less efficient than the hot-gas method, however, the liquid in the heat exchanger is sub-cooled in the cold supply air stream which increases the capacity of the air conditioner. Since more capacity is available, the AC units is able to meet the thermostat more quickly.
These factors are included in a "Manual J" calculation. Contractors who make these calculations before recommending a size can take a couple of hours collecting the information and making the calculation. If your contractor doesn't do it, there are services that will do it for around $99. If you're feeling particularly on the ball, there are also free online calculators.
HVAC is an important part of residential structures such as single family homes, apartment buildings, hotels and senior living facilities, medium to large industrial and office buildings such as skyscrapers and hospitals, on ships and submarines, and in marine environments, where safe and healthy building conditions are regulated with respect to temperature and humidity, using fresh air from outdoors.