Facility Energy Efficiency Tips

It is no secret that keeping your costs low as a business owner is crucial to the success of your business. One of the highest costs any business owner faces is the cost of HVAC system operation.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, HVAC systems account for 51% of energy consumption in commercial spaces. With HVAC accounting for such a significant portion of energy consumption, ensuring that the system operates as efficiently as possible should be a top priority.  This blog will cover some of the major players in terms of HVAC efficiency and how to keep your system operating as clean as possible so you can start rolling in the savings.

Initially, you will want to understand where you are in your HVAC equipment’s lifespan.  If your equipment is getting old, it may make more sense to look into capital replacement than trying to implement all of the following tips.  The new HVAC systems, especially the ones designed to meet the new DOE standards, are more efficient than ever. Now is a fantastic time to replace your entire system due to the increased efficiency of the latest and greatest HVAC equipment.  There are also a lot of different Tax Savings Codes offered to help reduce the burden of paying for a brand-new HVAC system.  Another critical factor to consider when trying to increase the efficiency of your HVAC system, the output of the system should be the same as before; otherwise, you are just using your system more efficiently.  That’s not a bad thing, but the tips we’re focusing on are more aimed at increasing efficiency while maintaining output.

The most impactful advice would be to develop a preventative maintenance plan and commit to that schedule.  Nextech HVAC Technicians know what to look for and how to prevent your system from working harder than necessary.  The New Buildings Institute conducted a study on commercial HVAC systems and found that using best practices in preventative maintenance can reduce energy consumption by 10-20% across all U.S. climate zones.  Conversely, the study also found that poor HVAC maintenance habits can increase energy usage by up to 60%.

Now let’s talk about coils. There are two types of HVAC coils, evaporator coils, and condenser coils.  Evaporator coils are responsible for absorbing heat inside the building and transferring it out. Condenser coils are where that heat ends up; their job is to expel heat, which is why they are outside the building. The condenser and evaporator coils are where most of the work is happening in your HVAC system, so keeping them properly, maintained is of utmost importance.

Over time dirt and debris will build up on the coils, making it harder for them to transfer heat effectively.  If they have to work harder, they will be eating up more energy to complete the same task.  In addition to the higher energy consumption, excess dirt and debris on the coils can lead to overheating and even system failure. Studies from ASHRAE have shown that poor coil maintenance habits can reduce the efficiency of the HVAC system by up to 30%.  ASHRAE performed a coil cleaning study in 2005, where they chose a commercial building and cleaned two of its four units to collect data on how significant the efficiency difference was in terms of annual savings. The study determined that the two clean units saved $40,000 in energy consumption costs in one year alone.

Air Filters are another, often overlooked, aspect of preventative maintenance.  Given that the primary function of HVAC air filters is to remove allergens and other particles from the air moving through your vents and increase air quality throughout the building, it may seem less important in terms of maintenance priority.  That is not the case. Filters can have a significant impact on the efficiency as well as the overall health of your HVAC system.  Knowing what types of filters exist and what the different ratings mean is vital when making the most efficient choice for your HVAC equipment. While filters with higher MERV ratings will filter out more allergens and smaller particles and produce cleaner air, the HVAC system must work harder to push the air through those thicker filters, reducing overall energy efficiency. The buildup of dirt and debris on the filters will also produce a similar effect on the HVAC system, as it becomes harder for air to pass through when dirt and dust clog it up. The most common recommendation is to replace air filters quarterly to reduce the likelihood of malfunction due to overworking the system.

Now that you know how to make some money-saving changes this year, your operating costs should be more manageable than ever.  In addition to saving money on electricity, your HVAC system will thank you for keeping up with preventative maintenance with years of smooth operation, keeping you, your tenants, and your customers happy and comfortable. Contact us at Nextech to start developing your preventative-maintenance plan today!