Let’s discuss 30-40% of your power bill. That is how much it costs the average homeowner or business owner to provide adequate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). Maintaining a pleasant, healthy interior atmosphere requires a strong HVAC system.
Many owners have asked me for a method to lower their energy and HVAC costs over the years. They don’t want to give up the internal ambient conditions but want a step-by-step plan to follow. The intriguing thing frequently is that energy expenses are significantly reduced, and HVAC system efficiency is enhanced. This is a standard function for any mechanical engineer focusing on energy and HVAC.
This article’s information will assist building owners, homeowners, and operators make educated decisions about existing HVAC systems or prospective enhancements.
- Load Reduction
- HVAC Systems
- Control Systems
Load reduction is the first step toward energy and HVAC system optimization. This stage often comprises a long-term strategy that lists the steps to be followed based on the highest return on investment. Reducing the load on your building allows the current HVAC system to run more effectively.
If a new system or systems are being explored, designing for the lower load rather than the present load will be more cost-effective. Among the most prevalent load reduction techniques are:
Tighten up the building shell and add more insulation. In some cases, adding insulation to older structures may be impossible. Thus, greater attention should be paid to the external shell, particularly windows and doors.
Putting in energy-efficient windows. This is an important consideration in certain structures that still have single-pane windows. Installing double-pane windows with a thermal break provides a high return on investment. Check that the windows are ENERGY STAR-approved. Tinting or Low-E coatings will be even more beneficial.
Upgrading lighting systems. Energy-efficient lighting solutions emit less heat into the conditioned room than incandescent lighting systems. Consider light troffers if you have a return air plenum instead of return air ducting so that part of the light’s heat is returned to the HVAC system rather than traveling into the inhabited space.
Selecting energy-efficient equipment and electrical gadgets with a power-saving mode will limit appreciable heat buildup in the area. Consider copy machines, kitchen equipment, computers, and refrigerators.
Control ventilation by balancing your outside air. Most building owners have original HVAC system installation blueprints. Have your designs checked by a mechanical expert to ensure that your outdoor air flow rates meet the most current code standards? Even if no drawings are available, your mechanical engineer should be able to offer improvements.
Addressing these issues is the first step toward lowering energy and HVAC expenditures.
The second step toward energy and HVAC system optimization is to understand your system. Your HVAC system is vital to your indoor climate but also accounts for a significant portion of your utility costs. While discussing every system is beyond the scope of this essay, a few recommendations may be made.
Every HVAC system component has become more efficient over time. If your system is over 13 years old, it’s time to start considering a replacement. Residential systems with proper maintenance have a life expectancy of roughly 15 years, yet they appear to collapse at the worst possible moment. Prepare a backup plan in case your equipment fails.
Commercial systems differ, but if your building uses packaged equipment or split systems, you should expect the same lifetime. The HVAC system may be more sophisticated in bigger commercial and industrial applications, necessitating an individual examination by a mechanical engineer.
As previously stated, HVAC systems vary, and no one-size-fits-all study applies to bigger systems. These systems have one thing in common: they are often powered by electricity. Electricity is expensive. Thus, any attempt to boost efficiency is beneficial.
Controlling your system is the third stage in achieving energy and HVAC system efficiency.
Programmable Thermostats-The advent of digital controllers has made energy conservation simple. A programmable thermostat is one of the finest investments for a household or small business property owner. These are simple to use and contain time management concepts.
Most manufacturers include 7-day plans and setback/setup programs that will switch the HVAC system on and off based on your schedule and desired interior temperature. This is an excellent approach to guarantee that HVAC systems are only used when necessary.
DDC Systems-This is a must-have system for large commercial buildings. Installation prices have steadily declined, but performance dependability has grown. They may be incorporated into any system and scaled up as needed. These features include optimum HVAC system start/stop, multiple zone control, numerous temperature sensor placements, and ventilation control.
The capacity of these systems to scale up to the greatest commercial applications is their strongest feature. This means you may start with a simple system and gradually add additional controls to encompass your entire HVAC system. Once again, the payback period is brief and well worth the investment.
Energy and HVAC optimization will help you save money on power. A little time spent getting to know your system and being acquainted with improvement ideas will save you money and extend the life of your equipment.