- How much of my total building energy use is contributed to HVAC?
On average, roughly 40% of a buildings’ energy use is generated by the HVAC equipment as illustrated in the above chart.
- What can we do to save on our HVAC energy costs with our existing systems?
Proper preventative maintenance of the mechanical system(s) is a sure way to extract the highest odds of reliability, efficiency and employee productivity within any building. It is safe to assume
that the heat seldom fails in July and the A/C fails to deliver cool temperatures in January (of course there are exceptions to this rule). Here are just some of the things that can be done to help
ensure reliable and efficient operation:
We see many equipment owners invest in regular air filter replacement programs and that is a good thing. However, the personnel that provide this labor often times are simply not trained in the
proper aspects of maintaining the equipment as outlined per the manufacturers’ recommendations and/or specifications. It is not uncommon to find equipment owners under the impression that since the
air filters are being addressed, therefore the equipment is being “properly maintained” as this could not be further from the truth. After all, the term “preventative maintenance” means just that -
maintenance performed in an effort to prevent breakdowns. Replacing air filters and perhaps fan belts does not do that. The ten items listed above only briefly describe the needed tasks required to
perform the needed preventative maintenance. Each task requires certain amount of time to perform and asking your service provider the important question of how much time will be spent on the
equipment is sometimes more important than simply asking for the price alone.
- Replace the air filters regularly
- Chemically clean condenser coils
- Visually inspect evaporator coils
- Clean out condensate p-traps
- Replace blower belts annually
- Inspect indoor and outdoor fan motors
- Verify proper economizer operation
- Check all electrical connections
- Verify all pressures, temperatures and temperature rises/drops for each unit
- Confirm proper temperature settings on thermostats
Other areas to look into are the devices that control the space temperature. We refer to these as thermostats and oftentimes they are simply ignored. Implementing some type of building automation or
zoning is becoming more and more common and affordable. Technology today allows us to do much more with temperature controls in any home or business and yet the trend has been slow. Furthermore,
these same building automation systems can also provide easy control over lighting, ventilation and security. Can you imagine having only one light switch in an entire building? In essence a single
thermostat providing comfort to an entire floor or building is doing just that! If your HVAC contractor is not providing you these options then they are not exploring options on your behalf.
- How much energy savings can be expected from these types of improvements?
Industry averages are 15% to 25%. One thing that most equipment owners do not have is a sense of comparison between the current monthly or annual energy consumption versus what they could be using
and/or paying after improvements are made. One thing is sure, if the system is operating with old or dirty and neglected equipment, it is safe to say that once the program has been in effect, the
energy usage will not increase when all else remains the same! Many other benefits are gained such as peace of mind, productivity increase, utility rebates, tax incentives and knowing that we are all
contributing to the common good of our planet Earth.