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10 ways to save on your HVAC
Many business owners might not realize that heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) account for an alarming 39% of their building’s energy consumption, on average.1 In other words, simply keeping a commercial building somewhat comfortable can eat up nearly half of an average business’s utility bills. That is a large expenditure no matter the size of the business.
One way to take a large bite out of that expense is to implement energy efficient HVAC projects. Energy efficiency is a term that is often thought of only in the sense of environmentalism, but it’s actually an incredibly effective way of improving profitability.
Unfortunately, many business owners shy away from switching to energy efficient HVAC systems, equipment and practices because they think it will be too costly or time-consuming. However, for many of the most effective energy efficient HVAC projects, that isn’t the case.
10 Simple Steps to HVAC Efficiency and Cost Savings
Think of the following 10 HVAC projects as individual steps that can be taken on the road to energy efficiency. Each step takes a business closer to being more environmentally sustainable, operationally efficient and, ultimately, more profitable.
- Check the ducts. This simple first step involves making sure the air flow is adequate to provide the designed heating and cooling capacity, and that air ducts aren’t leaking. Undersize, or poorly installed ducts reduce system capacity. Leaky ducts can be a quiet, and rather significant, energy-waster. Working on their own or in conjunction with an HVAC contractor, business owners and managers can check their ducts and add insulation where necessary.
- Avoid peak period usage. Lower utility rates during non-peak hours are among the many HVAC rebates offered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). Take advantage of these lower rates, and their accompanying positive impact on overall energy efficiency, by shifting as many HVAC operations to non-peak hours as possible.
- Make sure HVAC equipment is the proper size. Whether or not energy efficiency is a primary goal, sooner or later every business is going to have to replace or upgrade HVAC equipment. When doing so, work with an HVAC contractor to make sure the equipment being installed is the proper size for the building and the particular needs of your business.
- Employ passive heating and cooling strategies. Use nature as a heating and cooling system. Manage the amount of sunlight entering the building by using shades, blinds or other window controls. Who needs a heating system when the sun can do all the work?
- Educate employees about HVAC best practices. No matter how much efficient HVAC equipment is installed, it won’t reap very many rewards unless employees buy into efficiency goals. Teach workers how to use new equipment and employ new techniques to more effectively manage energy consumption. Consider incentivizing them or making a game out of energy efficiency in order to get them on board.
- Replace old light bulbs with LEDs. Older, inefficient light bulbs not only provide poor lighting, they also emit a lot of heat. That heat, especially when a lot of light bulbs are added up, equals heavier loads on air conditioning units. Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs barely give off any heat at all, thus reducing energy consumption.
- Install programmable thermostats. Indoor heating and cooling can often become a contentious issue among employees and even customers. Reduce or eliminate that tension by installing programmable thermostats. These thermostats can be set ahead of time to achieve comfortable temperature levels, take advantage of lower non-peak rates and give owners and managers an extra level of control over their HVAC operations.
- Switch to air-side economizers. By using cool outside air to lower temperatures inside a building, air-side economizers reduce HVAC loads and maintenance requirements while improving HVAC system performance and longevity. This is an exciting new technology that is quickly revolutionizing indoor air conditioning.
- Use fan speed controls. These days, almost every product people use can be customized to meet their needs or changing environmental cues. Why should HVAC fans be any different? The fans in older HVAC systems are only either on or off. Fan speed controls offer several different settings that can be changed based on conditions and need. Check out the PG&E rebates available for HVAC fan controls (PDF, 2.7 MB).
- Follow a quality maintenance program. After taking all of the previous steps, it would be a shame not to follow them up and let these new energy efficient HVAC equipment, systems and practices go to waste. Work with a qualified HVAC contractor to perform follow-up work on any and all HVAC projects. Regular check-ups, maintenance and efficiency tracking will help to ensure that everything is in good shape and that the business is meeting its cost-cutting goals.
Looking to learn more about the benefits of an energy efficient HVAC solution? Download the eBook "How to Get the Best Results from a Lighting or HVAC Project."
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