When time and budgets are already stretched, it’s easy to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when it comes to your HVAC systems. As long as the system is running dependably, what could be wrong? As a matter of fact, your system may be working harder than it needs to in order to maintain its usual performance. Investigate these five areas of your HVAC system to see if any are needlessly wasting energy.
1) Filthy Filters
It’s easy to fall behind on preventive maintenance like filter changes, but this simple act can actually avoid a lot of waste. When filters are too clogged, the system has to work harder to push the same amount of air through as before.
2) Coils That Need Cleaning
If your coils are dirty, the heating and cooling components of your HVAC system can’t condition the incoming air properly, which means they’ll have to work harder to accomplish the level of conditioning you need. Both indoor and outdoor coils are vulnerable to grime.
3) The Wrong Ventilation Rate
How much fresh air is your system bringing in? Start with a simple review to make sure your ventilation system is bringing in the correct percentage of outside air. That’s simply checking to see how much is coming through the dampers. Older systems likely have a fixed ventilation rate no matter what the actual occupancy is, so you may be over-ventilating unintentionally, especially if you don’t have HVAC controls that can vary the intake.
4) Faulty Dampers
Motors, links and controls can all cause problems with dampers, leading them to let in too much or too little air, even if your system is designed to bring in the optimal amount. If your HVAC controls are more than five years old, it might be worth it to upgrade to a newer package. If you have a good control system, you can reduce your energy costs by quite a bit just by opening and closing these dampers and valves. The energy efficiency standards on these new controls are unbelievable – some are up to 30-40% more efficient than older models.”
5) Unchecked Wear and Tear
Even the best-designed system can’t avoid the side effects of long-term use. Your HVAC system is full of moving parts that wear out, and it is vulnerable to damage just like any building system. Keep an eye on these areas for energy-wasting conditions.
- Refrigerant charge
- Missed Inspections
The secret to saving energy in your facility may not be in deep retrofits or sophisticated new systems. It may be as simple as finding and fixing the causes of energy waste in your existing HVAC system.
By Janelle Penny