Getting The Most Out of Your HVAC System
Does your HVAC system operate as efficiently as it could? Is your HVAC system compliant with health, safety and environmental regulations? Do you face continual maintenance issues with your HVAC system? In other words: is your HVAC system in good shape or is it costing you a bundle for no good reason?
With any facility assessment, one of the first areas to check out is the HVAC. You need to determine how much time you have left on the system’s lifecycle. If your HVAC system is extremely old, it could be sucking up energy and wasting your money. It could also be causing indoor air quality issues that lead to problems like Sick Building Syndrome, or your old HVAC could be racking up big maintenance bills. If so, then you need to know what’s wrong so you can fix it.
Energy use is a good starting point because the opportunity for cost savings is significant. Lighting tops the list of the potential savings, but HVAC runs a close second. Did you know high-tech HVAC systems could save 30 percent to 40 percent on energy costs? That’s nothing to sneeze at. The return on investment on HVAC upgrades ranges from one to five years, depending on the system’s level of use. That’s well worth the money, considering HVAC systems can last 10 or more years, depending on usage and climate conditions.
Interestingly, the design of an HVAC system has major impacts on productivity and energy savings. If you don’t have good controls on your HVAC, then you are wasting tons of money. It could be that you are simultaneously heating and cooling different parts of the building at the same time. That’s counterproductive and puts a lot of strain on the HVAC.
According to the California Energy Commission, an HVAC system should be properly sized to provide correct air flow, and meet room-by-room calculated heating and cooling loads. It should also be installed so that the static air pressure drop across the handler is within manufacturer and design specifications to have the capacity to meet the calculated loads.
Beyond the proper design and installation, experts encourage regular HVAC maintenance to ensure the best operation. Air filters should be changed each month, for example, and HVACs also need to be properly charged with refrigerant and have proper burner operation and draft.
If you do not have an HVAC maintenance crew on site, be sure to contract with a local air conditioning maintenance company to do regular check ups. This will extend the life of your HVAC and save money on heating and cooling costs.