A good HVAC system is the key to maintaining a health environment in your home. Through the years many people inquire about a strategy to cut down on the 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 decreased substantially and of course the HVAC system efficiency is improved. That is a standard function of any mechanical engineer devoted to energy and HVAC.
Step one to acheiving system optimization is to reduce the load. This step usually consists of a well thought out plan itemizing required sets to take based upon best return on your investment. Reducing the system load will allow it to function properly. If a new system or systems are now being considered, it will be more economical to design for the reduced load as opposed to the prevailing load. A few common load reduction strategies include:
1. Tighten the building shell and add supplemental insulation. Adding insulation in existing buildings is probably not achievable for some, so more consideration should be aimed toward the outside shell, in particular windows and doors.
2. Installing energy-efficient windows. This is a big item for some properties that still have single pane windows. The installment of double pane glazed windows with a thermal break is a great return on your investment. Ensure they’re ENERGY STAR qualified windows. Tinting or Low-E coatings will even be better.
3. Changing lighting systems. The typical commercial structure has a lighting density of 2-3 watts per sq. ft. to maintain a comfortable lighting level. This is a big part of an HVAC system load and almost any efforts in this direction will lower the cooling requirement of the building. Accent lighting (ocassionally named architectural lighting) are not guaranteed to be energy efficient and must not be looked at if you wish to reduce energy and HVAC costs. Energy-efficient lighting systems give off less heat into air conditioned space than older incandescent technology. 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 areas.
4. Choosing equipment with better efficiency ratings that have the power saver choice will reduce the heat gain in the space. Items to consider include copiers, kitchen equipment, computer systems and refrigerators.
5. Control ventilation by having your outside air balanced. Most building owners have blueprints of the system installation. Have those drawings examined by using an outside professional to verify your air flow rates conform to the most recent code requirements. If no sketches can be found, your furnace repair technician be capable of suggesting tips for enhancement.
Handling these things is your first step to controlling energy and HVAC costs.
The second step to realize energy and HVAC system optimization is knowing it. Your HVAC system is crucial for a comfortable environment, it also represents a large component of your utilities. While it is past the scope of this article to debate every system, a few suggestions could be answered. Every HVAC component has increased in effectiveness during recent years. If your system is more than 13 years old, it is time to begin thinking of replacing the system. Properly serviced residential systems have a life span of about fifteen years give or take, but appear to fail at the worse times. Have a replacement plan ready for the day your equipment does fail.
Business systems vary, but if your structure is using packaged equipment or split systems, equivalent lifetime should be likely. For industrial or large business systems, the HVAC system could also be more advanced and require an individual analysis by a contractor. As I stated earlier, HVAC systems will vary so an individual assessment works for larger systems. What all these systems have in common is they’re normally driven by electricity. Electricity costs money, so any improvement in the direction of better performance can be a bonus.
HVAC System Points:
Find a professional contractor you can trust. If you are a property owner, find a good HVAC company or technician to evaluate and work on the system. Assuming you are a large property owner, look for a commercial HVAC company for normal maintenance and a trusted mechanical engineer for unbiased guidance. I do advise against using someone who works for the HVAC Company; find a 3rd party service for unbiased information.
Validate your HVAC system load. Industrial buildings have more requirements related to code conformance, minimum ventilation rates, etc and therefore are individual to each place.
Opt for equipment sized for the load. DO NOT OVERSIZE! More-is-better doesn’t work for HVAC systems. It will cost more to purchase the equipment as well as operate it. Get the load and the equipment selection right the first time.
Buy high efficiency or Energy Star equipment. Many of the newer systems come with variable speed units for moving parts. Through your years of ownership this will be paid back many times over. Contrast standard efficiency equipment to high efficiency equipment in terms of the installation cost and running expenditure. Any good HVAC company or mechanical engineer can get this information for you.
Consider some form of power recapture for air exhausted from the place and use it somehow to condition the incoming air. This is the air you’ve paid to condition, so extracting a portion of the existing energy before blowing it out it should be necessary.
For larger buildings, consider conditioning the outside air with a dedicated exterior air unit. This will eliminate any concerns related to moisture control in most circumstances. It will also increase comfort levels and allow for further equipment optimization.
Commercial properties might want to consider equipment economizers. Many current city codes call for economizers on equipment over 15 tons. Often available at a low initial cost, these units use fresh air from outside whenever the temperature (or humidity) outdoors is lower than the temperature inside.
Both home owners and small business owners should think about installing thermostats you can program. Commercial buildings can install a custom digital control system. The investment will pay back more than the price right away.
Different Types o Control Systems
The third step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimization is to control your system.
The Digital Thermostat: A great investment for anyone is a programmable thermostat. These are simple to use and incorporate strategies based on a schedule. Most manufacturers offer seven day programs which will control the HVAC system timing and or climate settings. This is the best way to make sure 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 is better. They are often integrated into any system and expanded as required. Some of the more accepted features of these systems are optimized start/stop, multiple zone controls, temperature sensing unit and ventilation control. A key benefit of these solutions might be their capability to be integrated into any size system. This implies you can install a something simple to begin with then add more controls later to include your whole HVAC system. The payback is short and well worth the investment.
Coil Cleaning: This is usually a big item missed by residential and commercial building owners. Condenser coils tend to collect dust and debris because they are outdoors. This makes the compressor work overtime and leads to a higher refrigerant temperature in your refrigeration system. Dirty evaporator and heat coils collect dust and fibers that circulate inside your home or building. They must be cleaned at least once a year
Ongoing Operations and Maintenance
The fourth and last step to achieve better system operation is consistent maintenance. The most effective systems are always maintained. Ensure consistency, efficiency as well as long life for the HVAC system by using these guidelines.
Find a professional contractor you can trust. Find a good company or technician to analyze and work on your system. Assuming you are a large building owner, find a commercial|an industrial} HVAC contractor for normal maintenance. Ensure you keep track of servicing with when they vist and what they did each time.
Home owners must always get a regular tune up. The way your system works will fluctuate depending on the season.
Change air filters on a schedule. Don’t use anything less than a MERV 5 filter to assure dust and fibers are removed. Clean filters will save fan energy.
Optimizing your HVAC system will help to lower electrical expenses. A little time getting to know your system and familiarizing yourself with money saving strategies will save on energy costs and boost the life span of your equipment.