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8 Ways Commercial HVAC Systems Can Save you Money

Ways Commercial HVAC Systems Can Save you Money

Your HVAC system is perhaps the most important part of your commercial building. It gives you control over the building’s air quality and temperature, keeping all occupants safe, healthy, and comfortable.

Although the HVAC system makes up a significant part of your energy bills, there are practices you can adopt to lower the expenses and keep your equipment running for longer. Follow these tips to save money, become more energy conscious, and increase your HVAC system’s lifespan.

1. Conduct Periodic Energy Audits

The first and most critical step to becoming more energy efficient is to conduct an initial energy audit and assess your energy consumption.

An energy auditor inspects your building for potential sources of inefficiencies. They gather data and information relevant to energy consumption, analyzing it  and telling you where, when, and how your building uses energy, including the HVAC system. The energy auditor will then break down the data and offer ways to reduce consumption based on their observations and interpretation of the data.

The first audit is the most important because it will give you insight into your system’s efficiency and consumption patterns. However, you should schedule more energy audits every couple of years. As time passes and you implement changes to your consumption patterns, regular audits keep you updated on your building’s energy efficiency, allowing you to adapt your energy and HVAC usage policies.

2. Inspect and Replace HVAC Filters Frequently

The primary purpose of your HVAC system is to regulate air temperature and quality to provide the best possible indoor comfort. One of the most critical elements is the air purification system, which relies on filters to catch air impurities and circulate clean air inside the building.

dirty and clogged hvac filter

Over time, an HVAC filter becomes dirty and clogged, restricting airflow and reducing air quality because clogged filters allow some of the impurities to flow back into the building. If not replaced periodically, the resulting low airflow and reduced air quality may cause significant health issues, such as asthma, allergies, or respiratory infections, reducing the quality of life for the building’s occupants.

In addition to these health concerns, clogged filters also stress the HVAC system, forcing it to consume more energy and run harder to compensate for the airflow losses. This increases your energy bills and wears out your HVAC equipment more quickly.

Regularly replacing your HVAC filters is a simple step that can potentially reduce energy waste by as much as 10%, offering significant energy savings for a comparatively low cost. The recommended standard replacement schedule is once every three months at the minimum. However, depending on your building’s size and applications (manufacturing, chemical industry, etc.), you may need to change them on a more frequent monthly or bimonthly schedule.

The Best Mitsubishi Multi-Zone Mini Splits

3. Stick to the Maintenance Schedule

Whether your building uses ducted central air conditioning or a ductless system, such as the LG Ductless Mini Split, regular maintenance is vital to keep your equipment running for as long as possible. Having the filters replaced is the first step, but you may need the services of a qualified HVAC technician to conduct a more thorough preventative maintenance protocol.

The objective of a maintenance protocol is to ensure your HVAC system operates as close to peak efficiency as possible. HVAC maintenance should be scheduled regularly to prevent the system from prematurely wearing out. Regular preventative maintenance keeps overall energy and repair bills down by 30% to 40%.

The technician will inspect the safety controls and mechanisms and check the circuitry state, pumps, caps, valves, filters, and other parts, cleaning, repairing, or replacing parts as needed. If the maintenance technician can’t service or repair specific elements of your HVAC system during preventative maintenance, they may recommend you follow up with repairs or replacement parts. 

You should schedule preventative maintenance at least once a year. Summer and winter are the two periods of the year where your HVAC system will get the most use, so scheduling maintenance in the spring or fall allows you to ensure it is functioning correctly and ready for the upcoming season, giving you and your occupants peace of mind.

More frequent maintenance may be necessary if your building needs the highest air quality possible at all times—for example, in a hospital. 

4. Take Advantage of Smart Technology

Smart HVAC technologies such as sensors and programmable thermostats are designed to automatically adjust your system’s heating and cooling levels based on the number of people in each room.

4 zone mini split system

For example, a 4 zone mini split system with smart sensors allows you to program a target temperature in four different rooms individually. The mini split controllers are Wi-Fi connected and compatible with a corresponding mobile application, letting you control the temperature directly from your mobile phone.

The sensors detect the presence of people in the room, automatically turning on and adjusting the interior temperature until the target is reached when occupants are inside. When they leave, and the sensors no longer detect movement, the system automatically turns itself off, conserving energy.

Using smart technology to manage temperature intelligently across your entire building can save you several hundred dollars per year.  

5. Consider Energy-Saving Structural Modifications

Just as there are energy-efficient home designs, there are also energy-saving structural designs for commercial buildings. An energy audit can reveal whether your building’s design and layout possess any energy-wasting points and whether they can be corrected through renovations or retrofitting.

For example, a building with improper insulation may result in hot or cold air seeping out of the building instead of remaining inside, forcing your HVAC system to work harder. If your building is an older design, some windows may be single-pane instead of more modern double- or triple-pane, contributing to insulation inefficiencies.

For buildings relying on a central HVAC system with ducting, your vents should be in good locations, away from obstructions such as furniture or office equipment. A qualified HVAC technician can give you advice and suggest whether the ductwork in specific rooms should be moved to improve energy efficiency.

Smaller commercial buildings may benefit from switching from traditional central air conditioning and furnaces to ductless systems, such as a Mitsubishi mini split. Mini split systems offer many advantages; they are smaller, easier to maintain, more efficient, and far more flexible, potentially reducing your energy bills.

If you want to avoid bulky handler units in your commercial building, mini split systems are also available at ceiling-mounted cassette models or with concealed duct systems. These systems offer you the cost-saving eco-friendly benefits of a standard mini split HVAC combined with the streamlined appearance of a central ducted unit. 

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6. Avoid Delaying Repairs

If your HVAC technician discovers a part of your system needs repairs, schedule the work as soon as possible, no matter how small or inconsequential the problem might seem at first glance.

Delaying or postponing necessary repairs decreases your HVAC system’s efficiency, which carries many negative consequences. There are three main reasons why delaying repairs will be costlier in the long run:

avoid delaying ac repairs

Decreased Efficiency Equals Higher Bills 

A worn or damaged HVAC system may consume more power than it’s designed to, causing you to spend more money on energy bills despite getting less than the factory-advertised performance.

Potential Health Risks

Even if you are diligent with changing your filters, the HVAC system may still pump unclean air and carry allergens into your building if it is damaged, worn out, or on the verge of a breakdown.

Risk of Premature Breakdown

Delaying necessary repairs forces an already damaged system to continue operating, causing it to wear out more quickly than expected and increasing the chances of sustaining an emergency breakdown. There is no way to predict when your HVAC system will break; it may occur during the fall, or it might happen at the peak of summer when you need cooling the most.

If your HVAC system fails, you will need to call an emergency HVAC repair service, which can cost hundreds of dollars per hour. Calling these services will cause you to spend far more than you have saved by postponing repairs; it is never worth it.

ac ductwork

7. Inspect the Ductwork for Leaks

The effectiveness of a ducted HVAC system depends on how well sealed the ductwork is. Improperly sealed or leaky ducts can cause various issues, depending on where the leaks are located.

The most common locations for duct leaks are on duct pipes, flex piping, and transition pieces. Leaks in any of those parts result in a loss of heated or cooled air, not only decreasing the efficiency of your system’s temperature control but also potentially introducing bad smells, reducing air quality, and adding to      discomfort.

A more severe form of ductwork leak is a flue pipe leak. Your HVAC’s flue pipe is essentially the exhaust pipe, venting carbon monoxide and other toxic gases outside of your building. 

Typically, a flue pipe leaks water, causing droplets to fall out and into the building. In the best-case scenario, this simply indicates excess condensation has built up inside. However, a leaky flue pipe could also mean it is leaking carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless toxic gas that can cause CO poisoning.

A qualified HVAC technician can inspect your ductwork and detect whether there are any duct leaks. Although most HVAC leaks are typically easy to repair, often requiring little more than HVAC-specification aluminum tape or mastic sealant, small leaks are challenging to find and often go unnoticed without a technician’s expertise.

Regular ductwork inspections are the only way to find and fix all leaks. They help keep your system running at peak efficiency, preventing poor-quality air or harmful gases from circulating into your building.

businessmen talking

8. Get Your Occupants Involved

Although the exact percentage varies depending on the building, the tenants or occupants may control up to 80% of a commercial building’s total energy use. In addition, the Department of Energy estimates the HVAC system consumes 35% of all energy used by an average building.

Therefore, an essential element of energy efficiency is occupant involvement. Often, all it takes to be more energy efficient is getting the building’s occupants involved in the process, such as providing education and      tools or simply recommending best practices on using the AC more efficiently.

One of the most common first steps is introducing energy-saving policies and sustainability guidelines, focusing on awareness and education for your building occupants and explaining the benefits of responsible, sustainable AC usage. 

Your building’s policy should include simple measures that are easy to understand. Examples include:

  • Avoid leaving the AC on at all times unless necessary. If a room is going to be empty for a significant period, the occupants should shut off the AC before leaving.
  • If specific rooms have openable windows, avoid turning the AC on when the windows are open.
  • Warn your occupants about thermostat control. Explain that changing the thermostat temperature on very hot or cold days does not cool or heat rooms faster. However, it does increase power consumption. 
  • During hot days, take advantage of blinds, curtains, and other ways to provide shade in a room and help it cool down faster. It will also reduce the strain on the building’s HVAC system.

Each building is different, and your occupants’ needs and requirements may be very different from neighboring buildings. The best way to create an energy-saving policy for your particular case is to educate your occupants and gain their cooperation. 

Keep Your Building Comfortable with ComfortUp

Combining as many of these tips as possible can help your HVAC equipment run for longer and with better efficiency while also saving you money on your energy bills. Some of these measures don’t even require much initial investment, allowing you to see the money-saving benefits immediately. 

To help you save even more, consider switching to mini splits. ComfortUp offers a large selection of single zone and multi zone mini split systems suitable for homes and offices of all sizes. We carry the latest models by well-known brands, such as Gree, LG, Mitsubishi, and Rheem, with BTU capacities ranging from 6,000 to 42,000. 

For a quote, a free product consultation, or information on any of our products, call us today at 1-855-337-0001.

 

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