An efficient HVAC system is the key to maintaining a comfortable, healthy interior environment. Through the years many home owners inquire about a technique to reduce their cost of energy for the HVAC system. They don’t want to sacrifice the interior environmental conditions, however they do want a-point-by-point plan to follow. The interesting thing that always happens is that energy bills are reduced by quite a bit and of course the HVAC performance is enhanced. This is a standard function of any HVAC contractor devoted to energy and HVAC.
The first step to acheiving energy and HVAC system optimization is to reduce the load. This step usually consists of a long range plan itemizing required sets to take based upon best value for your dollar. Reducing the system load will allow it to operate properly. In case a new system or systems are now being considered, it will be more economical to design for a load reduction as opposed to the prevailing load. A few common load reduction strategies include:
1. Look at the building’s exterior and add supplemental insulation. Adding insulation in existing buildings may not be achievable in some instances, so more deliberation ought to be aimed at the outside shell, above all the windows and doors.
2. Putting in energy-efficient windows. This can be a big item for some properties that have single pane windows. The replacement of double pane glazed windows with a temperature break is a wonderful bang for your buck. Ensure they are ENERGY STAR qualified windows. Tinting or Low-E coatings will even be better.
3. Upgrading lighting systems. The average industrial building has a lighting density of 2-3 watts per square foot which maintains proper lighting levels. This is a big part of the HVAC load and nearly all efforts to optimize this specific area will lower the cooling requirement of the building. Accent lighting (sometimes called architectural lighting) are not always energy efficient and should not be looked at if you want to reduce energy and HVAC expenses. Energy-efficient lighting systems release less heat into a cooled evironment than older incandescent technology. When you have a return air plenum instead of return air ductwork, consider light troffers in order that some heat from the lights is sent back to the HVAC system instead of going into the occupied areas.
4. Selecting equipment with better efficiency ratings that have a power saver option will reduce the heat gain in the space. Items to consider include copiers, kitchen equipment, personal computers and refrigerators.
5. Control ventilation by having your outside air balanced. Many building owners have sketches of the system installation. Have those drawings analyzed by using a mechanical engineer to verify your air-flow rates conform to the most recent code standards. If no sketches can be found, your engineer be able to make recommendations for improvement.
Handling these items is your first task to reducing energy and HVAC expenses.
Heating and Air Conditioning Systems
The second step to realize energy and HVAC system optimization is understanding it. Your HVAC system is crucial for a comfortable environment, it also represents a major component of your utilities. While it is past the scope of this article to discuss every system, a few suggestions can be discussed. Every system component has grown in effectiveness over the years. If your system is more than 13 years old, it is time to begin thinking of an upgrade to new equipment. Well maintained residential systems have a life span of about fifteen years or so, but appear to shut down at the most inconvenient times. You should have a plan in place for the day your equipment fails.
Commercial systems will vary, but when your structure is using packaged equipment or split systems, the same lifetime can be expected. For industrial or large business systems, the HVAC system could also be more complex and require an individual analysis by a mechanical engineer. As I said, These types of systems vary so an individual analysis works for larger systems. What all these systems have in common is they are normally powered by electrical energy. Electricity has its price, so any effort toward better efficiency is a good thing.
HVAC System Suggestions:
Find a qualified contractor you can trust. If you are a property owner, find a good HVAC business or technician to assess and work on your system. Assuming you are a large commercial building owner, locate a commercial HVAC contractor for regular maintenance and a trusted mechanical engineer for impartial guidance. We do not recommend using a mechanical engineer employed by the HVAC Company; find a third party company for unbiased information.
Check your HVAC system load. Industrial properties have more requirements related to conformint to code requirements, ventilation rates, etc and therefore are individual to every place.
Choose equipment sized for the load. DO NOT OVERSIZE! Going overboard doesn’t work for HVAC systems. It will cost more to buy the apparatus as well as use it. Get the load and the equipment selection right the first time.
Purchase top efficient or Energy Star equipment. Most of the newer systems come with variable speed drives for moving parts. Over the years of ownership this will be repaid repeatedly. If you compare standard efficiency equipment to high efficiency equipment when it comes to the installation cost and life cycle expenditure. Any good HVAC company or contractor can get this information for you.
Think about some kind of energy recapture for any air exhausted from the building and re-use it to enhance the inbound outside air. This is the air you’ve paid for, so extracting a little of the existing energy before blowing it out it should be top priority.
For larger buildings, think about preparing outside air with a dedicated exterior air unit. This can solve problems with moisture control in many instances. It may also increase comfort and allow for further equipment optimization.
Large complexes might want to consider economizers on their equipment. Most current city codes require economizers on equipment in excess of 15 tons. Often offered at a low initial cost, these units use fresh air from outside whenever the temperatures (or humidity) outdoors is less than the inside temperature.
Both home owners and small business owners should think about installing programmable thermostats. Commercial buildings can setup a custom digital control system. This type of investment will pay back more than the cost right away.
Different Types o Control Systems
The third step to achieve system optimization is to control the system.
The Digital Thermostat: One of the best investments for the homeowner is a programmable thermostat. These are really easy to use and come with built in strategies based upon a schedule. Most manufacturers offer 7 day programs which will control the HVAC system timing and temperature. This is a wonderful way to ensure the system is used only when necessary.
DDC Systems: For the large commercial building, I consider this as an essential system. Installation costs have steadily decreased and performance reliability has steadily increased. They are often incorporated into any system and enhanced as required. Some of the more popular features of these systems are optimized start/stop, a variety of zone controls, temperature sensing unit and ventilation control. The best part of these solutions is their capability to be scaled up to the largest of commercial applications. This implies you can setup a somethng simple to begin with then increase the controls later to include your whole HVAC system. Again, the payback is short and well worth the money spent.
Coil Cleaning: This is always a big thing ignored by residential and commercial building owners. Condenser coils collect dirt and debris on their surfaces because they are outside. Diry coils make the compressor work overtime and results in a higher refrigerant temperatures in the refridgerant system. Dirty evaporation and heat coils circulate the dust and fibers inside the building. Clean them at least once a year
Ongoing Operations and Maintenance
The fourth and last step to realize energy and HVAC system optimization is regular up keep. The most effective systems are well looked after. You can ensure reliability, efficacy and a long life for your HVAC system by using these suggestions.
Find a qualified contractor you can trust. Find the best company or technician to analyze and work on your system. If you are a large building owner, find a commercial|an industrial} HVAC business for regular upkeep. Ensure you keep track of servicing with dates, times and names of the servicing person.
Home owners must always get a regular tune up. The way your system works will vary depending on the time of year.
Replace your air filters regularly. Don’t use anything less than a MERV 5 filter to assure most of the dust is captured. Dirty filters negate your savings and allow dust to pass through.
Summing Things up
Optimizing your HVAC system will help to lower energy fees. General knowledge of your system and becoming familiar with money sving strategies will save on energy costs and boost the life of your system.