An efficient HVAC system is the key to maintaining a comfortable, healthy interior environment. Throughout the years many people ask about a technique to reduce their cost of energy for the HVAC system. They don’t want to sacrifice the comfort of their living environment, however they do want a good plan on how to save money and equipment. The interesting thing that always happens may be that energy bills are decreased substantially and the HVAC system efficiency is enhanced. This is a normal part of any mechanical engineer devoted to energy and HVAC.
The first step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimization is to reduce the load. This step typically consists of a well thought out plan which itemizes the actions to be taken based upon best return on your investment. Reducing the system load will allow it to function more efficiently. 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. Tighten the building shell and add supplemental insulation. Upgrading insulation in existing buildings may not be do-able for some, so more deliberation should be aimed toward the outside shell, above all the windows and doors.
2. Fitting energy-efficient windows. This is a very expensive for some properties that still have single pane windows. The replacement of double pane windows with a temperature break is a great return on investment. Ensure they’re ENERGY STAR qualified windows. Tinting or Low-E coatings may even be the best.
3. Upgrading the lighting system. The average commercial building has a lighting density of 2-3 watts per square foot to maintain a comfortable lighting level. This is a big part of the HVAC load and nearly all efforts to optimize this specific area will lower the cooling requirement for the structure. Accent lighting (sometimes called architectural lighting) are not guaranteed to be energy efficient and should not be looked at if you wish to reduce energy and HVAC costs. Energy-efficient lights discharge less heat into air conditioned space than older light bulbs. If you have a return air plenum instead of return air ductwork, consider light troffers so that some of the heat from the bulbs is returned to the HVAC system rather than bleeding into the occupied area.
4. Choosing efficient equipment and electronic devices that have the power saver choice will decrease the heat gain in the space. Items to consider include copy machines, food processors, computer systems and refrigerators.
5. Control ventilation by having your outside air balanced. Many building owners have blueprints of the original HVAC system installation. Have the drawings examined by a mechanical engineer to verify your air-flow rates conform to the most recent code requirements. If no drawings are available, your contractor should still be capable of making recommendations for improvement.
Dealing with these things is your first task to minimizing energy and HVAC overheads.
Heating and Air Conditioning Systems
The second step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimization is knowing it. Your HVAC system is crucial for a comfortable environment, it also represents a major factor of your utilities. While it is past the scope of this article to debate every system, a couple of recommendations can be covered. Each system component has increased in effectiveness during recent years. If your system is older than 13 years old, it is time to begin planning for replacing the system. Regularly HVAC service on residential systems have a life span of about 15 years or so, but seem to shut down at the most inconvenient times. Have a replacement plan ready for when your equipment does fail.
Business systems will vary, but if your building is using specially designed systems, a similar lifetime should be expected. For industrial or large business systems, the HVAC system may be more complex and require a closer look using a mechanical engineer. As I said, These types of systems will vary so an individual assessment works best for a custom system. What most of these systems share is they are normally fueled by electricity. Electricity costs money, so any attempt toward better efficiency can be a plus.
HVAC System Tips:
Find a professional contractor you trust. If you are a property owner, find the best HVAC business or technician to assess and maintain your system. If you are a large commercial building owner, find a commercial HVAC contractor for normal maintenace and repair and a trusted contractor for unbiased suggestions. We do advise against using someone who works for the HVAC Company; find a 3rd party engineer for impartial information.
Confirm your HVAC system load. Industrial structures have more requirements related to conformint to code requirements, minimum ventilation rates, etc and therefore are individual to each place.
Select equipment rated for the load. NEVER OVERSIZE! Going overboard doesn’t apply for HVAC systems. It is going to cost more to buy the equipment as well as operate it. Consult with your contractor to figure out the proper capacity
Purchase high efficiency or Energy Star equipment. Most of the new systems come with variable speed units for moving parts. Through your years of ownership this is paid back many times over. Evaluate standard efficiency equipment to high efficiency equipment when it comes to the installation cost and running costs. Any good HVAC company or contractor can get this information for you.
Consider some kind of energy recapture for air exhausted from the building and re-use it somehow to condition the inbound outside air. This is the air you’ve paid for, so using a portion of the energy before exhausting it ought to be top priority.
For larger complexes, think about preparing outside air with a specialized exterior air unit. This can solve problems with humidity control in many instances. It will also increase comfort levels and enable further equipment optimization.
Commercial buildings should look into equipment economizers. Most current city codes want economizers on equipment over 15 tons in size. Often available at a low initial cost, these units use fresh air from outside whenever the temperature (or humidity) outside is less than the inside temperature.
Both home owners and small business owners should install thermostats you can program. Commercial buildings can setup a custom digital control system. This type of investment will pay back more than the price very quickly.
Different Types o Control Systems
The third step to realize energy and HVAC system optimization is to control your system.
The Digital Thermostat: One of the best investments for anyone is a programmable thermostat. These are simple to use and come with built in strategies based on a schedule. Most manufacturers provide seven day programs which can turn the HVAC system on and off to compliment and or climate settings. That is a wonderful way to make certain the system is used only when required.
DDC Systems: For a large building, I consider this as a must have system. Installation costs are lower now and of course performance reliability has steadily increased. They are often integrated into any system and expanded as required. A few of the more accepted features of these solutions are optimized start/stop, multiple zone controls, temperature sensor and ventilation control. A key benefit of these systems is their capability to be scaled up to the largest of commercial applications. This implies you’ll be able to setup a somethng simple to begin with then add more controls later to incorporate everything. Again, the payback is short and really worth the outlay.
Coil Cleaning: This is always a big item neglected by almost everyone. Condenser coils tend to collect dust and debris because they are outdoors. Diry coils make the compressor work overtime and leads to a higher refrigerant temperatures in the refridgerant system. Dirty evaporation and heating coils collect dust and fibers that circulate inside your home or building. Clean them at least once every year
Ongoing Operations and Maintenance
The fourth and last step to realize energy and HVAC system optimization is regular up keep. The most efficient systems are always looked after. Ensure reliability, efficacy as well as longevity for your HVAC system by using these guidelines.
Find a professional company you can trust. Find the best company or technician to analyze and work on your system. Assuming you are a large business owner, find a commercial|an industrial} HVAC business for regular maintenance. Make sure you record and document servicing with when they vist and what they did each time.
Home owners should always get a regular tune up. The operation of your system will fluctuate depending on the time of year.
Replace air filters on a schedule. Don’t use anything less than a MERV 5 filter to make sure dust and fibers are removed. Clean filters will save fan energy.
Optimizing your HVAC system will help to lower electrical fees. A little time finding out about your system and becoming familiar with improvement strategies will reduce your costs and increase the life of your system.