« on: Today at 19:19:40 »
But this pales in comparison to the incredible latent heat of a phase change.I don't get it. Suppose I have a material that melts/freezes at room temperature. This only works once, and then it's done. Say I want to heat my building in the winter. I have liquid 'stuff' that freezes as the room temp drops just below where I want it, so it keeps the room warm until it's entirely frozen. Now what? How am I going to get it into liquid state again? I have to turn the heater on and it has all the much more work to do since it has to melt all this nice stuff on top of actually heating the place. It seems I've saved no energy at all, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.
Heating/cooling is all about insulation, not thermal capacity. The more thermal energy that passes from the hot side to the cold side, the more energy it takes to put it back.
Industry, the primary consumer of resources, seems not to care. In the middle of winter I watched the power consumed by the air conditioners in the computer lab. All it needed was a fresh air fan on the roof since it was well below freezing outside, and there they are pumping heat out of the lab to the radiator on the roof, and not even into the heating system keeping the offices warm.
Another building (built for IBM) had the heater break down on an August day. We had the doors/windows open and still had to wear winter coats because there was no heat to mix with the cold system. Temp was set just like water in houses: by mixing just the right amount of hot and cold, and not just turning off the whole system when it was cool enough. Apparently the utility bill was of no concern.