By Rod Bachman
Many businesses are joining the sustainability movement in large numbers by “going green.” No matter what these companies’ green goals are, their HVAC system is a great place to start. With Earth Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to consider ways businesses can cut costs and consume energy by making a few smart changes with their HVAC systems.
Here at Bachman’s Inc., our team has a deep understanding of green practices and familiarity with green requirements and processes. Below are five steps you can take to make your building green not only for Earth Day, but every day.
1. Schedule And Maintain Equipment Properly
Optimal HVAC efficiency is achieved with scheduled maintenance. Having clean, well operating systems will provide reliable, efficient service during extreme weather days. According to the NADCA HVAC Inspection Manual, it is important to develop a HVAC maintenance check list that includes replacing filters clogged by carbon particles and dirt, cleaning coils to minimize overheating, thermostat assessments that detect poor set points, checking for refrigerant leaks, and checking drain and pan drip lines.
2. Audit Your HVAC System
Installing a HVAC system that is the right size for your business will conserve energy, cut costs, and maintain longevity. According to Energy.gov, an undersized system won’t cool sufficiently and will work overtime in attempt to compensate, causing early wear. An oversized system will cycle on and off frequently, causing temperature swings and hot and cold spots, leaving behind excess humidity, and wasting energy. Industry-accepted procedures for an audit includes looking at the buildings floor space, window size and type, ventilation, the building physical orientation, and many other aspects of the building.
3. Install Programmable Thermostats
Programmable thermostats allow facility managers to have more control over the temperature, which ultimately saves money and energy. According to PG&E, by reducing heating by 10 degrees during hours when the building isn’t occupied, you will use 10% less energy. The savings are larger when there is a bigger different between inside and outside temperatures. In addition to saving energy, it can help your business save on costs by limiting the amount of energy consumed when the business is closed.
4. Control The Speed Of Your HVAC Electric Motors
Electric motors are used in all HVAC systems, which accounts for a large portion of the total HVAC energy consumption in commercial buildings. By operating those motors more efficiently significant savings can be had. This can be done with the use of variable frequency drives (VFDs). According to Iota Communications, a sustainable energy and energy conservation company, a motor running at partial speed is more energy efficient than one running at full speed. VFDs can be used to control the speed of HVAC blower fans, pumps, or compressors. This results in increased efficiency and energy savings.
According to the Department of Energy, having a poorly insulating building may cause a of lost conditioned air. It is possible to get better HVAC energy efficiency by trapping in all the air that is produced. Adding insulation in walls, window, pipe, ducts, and outlets will save energy.
Rod Bachman is President of Bachman’s Inc., a commercial HVAC business located in Cincinnati, OH. Bachman’s Inc. provides customized service programs, engineering, fabrication and installation of energy efficient heating, ventilating, air conditioning, refrigeration, and automated control systems.