Let’s talk about 30-40% of your electricity bill. That’s how much it costs the average homeowner or commercial building owner to provide proper heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC). A good HVAC system is the key to maintaining a comfortable, healthy and interior environment. Through the years, I have been asked by many owners for a strategy to reduce their cost of energy and HVAC. They don’t want to sacrifice the interior environmental conditions, but they do want a point-by-point plan to follow. The interesting thing that often happens is that energy bills are lowered substantially and the HVAC system performance is improved. This is a standard function of any mechanical engineer specializing in energy and HVAC.
The information on this page will help homeowners, building owners and building operators make informed decisions about existing HVAC systems or future upgrades.
The first step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimization is load reduction. This step normally consists of a long range plan which itemizes the actions to be taken based on best return on investment. Reducing your building load allows the existing HVAC system to operate more efficiently. If a new system or systems are being considered, it will be more cost effective to design for the reduced load as opposed to the existing load. A few common load reduction strategies include:
Addressing these items is your first step to reducing energy and HVAC costs.
The second step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimization is knowing your system. Your HVAC system is critical to your interior environment, but it also represents a large component of your utility expenses. While it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss every system, a few recommendations can be addressed. Every HVAC system component has increased in efficiency over the years. If your system is more than 13 years old, it’s time to begin planning for an upgrade to new equipment. Well maintained residential systems have a life expectancy of about 15 years or so but seem to fail at the worse times. Have a replacement plan ready for the day your equipment fails. Commercial systems vary, but if your building is using packaged equipment or split systems, the same lifetime can be expected. For larger commercial systems and industrial applications, the HVAC system may be more complex and require an individual analysis by a mechanical engineer. As I said, HVAC systems vary and no one-size-fits-all analysis works for larger systems. What all these systems have in common is they are normally fueled by electricity. Electricity cost money, so any efforts in the direction of increased efficiency is a plus.
HVAC System Tips:
The third step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimization is controlling your system.
The fourth and last step to achieve energy and HVAC system optimization is operation and maintenance. The most efficient HVAC systems are well maintained. Ensure reliability, efficiency and a long life for your HVAC system by following these tips.
Energy and HVAC optimization will reduce your electricity costs. A little time getting to know your system and familiarizing yourself with improvement strategies will save money and increase the life of your equipment.
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About the Author
I am the owner of Pro Energy and HVAC and a consulting mechanical engineer.