A good HVAC system is very important when it comes to maintaining a comfortable, healthy interior environment. Throughout the years many home owners inquire about a technique to reduce their cost of power and HVAC. They don’t want to sacrifice the interior environmental conditions, however they do want a good plan on how to save money and equipment. The interesting thing that always happens may be that energy bills are decreased substantially and the HVAC efficiency is improved. This is a normal function of any mechanical engineer devoted to energy and HVAC.
Optimization of The System
The first step to acheiving system optimization is to reduce the load. This step typically consists of a long range plan which itemizes the actions to be taken based upon best value for your dollar. Reducing the system load will allow it to operate more efficiently. In case a new system or systems are now being considered, it is going to be more economical to design for a load reduction as opposed to the prevailing load. A few common load reduction strategies include:
1. Look at the building’s exterior and add supplemental insulation. Adding insulation in existing buildings is probably not achievable for some, so more deliberation should be aimed at the exterior shell, above all the windows and doors.
2. Putting in energy-efficient windows. This can be a big item for some structures that have single pane windows. The installment of double pane glazed windows with a thermal break is a wonderful return on investment. Make sure they’re ENERGY STAR qualified windows. Tinting or Low-E coatings may even be the best.
3. Changing lighting systems. The typical commercial building has a lighting density of 2-3 watts per square foot which maintains proper lighting levels. That is a big part of the HVAC load and almost any efforts to optimize this specific area will reduce the cooling requirement for the building. Vanity lights (sometimes called architectural lighting) are not guaranteed to be power efficient and should not be considered if you want to reduce energy and HVAC expenditures. Energy-efficient lighting systems release less heat into air conditioned space than older incandescent technology. If you have a return air plenum instead of return air ductwork, consider light troffers in order that some of the heat from the lights is returned to the HVAC system instead of bleeding into the occupied areas.
4. Choosing efficient equipment and electronic devices that have the power saver selection will reduce the heat gain within the space. Items to consider include copiers, food processors, personal computers and refrigerators.
5. Control ventilation by having your outside air balanced. Most building owners have blueprints of the system installation. Have those drawings reviewed by an outside professional to verify your air flow rates conform to the latest code requirements. If no blueprints can be found, your contractor be able to make recommendations for improvement.
Addressing these items is your first step to reducing energy and HVAC costs.
Heating and Air Conditioning Systems
The second step to realize energy and heating and air conditioning optimization is knowing it. Your HVAC system is critical for your interior setting, it also represents a big component of your utilities. Even though it is beyond the scope of this article to debate every system, a couple of recommendations can be addressed. Each system component has increased in efficiency over the years. If your system is more than 13 years old, it is time to begin arranging for an upgrade to new equipment. Regularly serviced residential systems have a life span of around fifteen years give or take, but seem to fail at the most inconvenient times. Have a replacement plan ready for the day your equipment fails.
Business systems will vary, but when your structure is using specially designed systems, the same lifetime can be expected. For larger commercial systems and industrial applications, the HVAC system may be more complex and require a closer look by a mechanical engineer. As I stated earlier, These types of systems will vary so an individual assessment works best for larger systems. What most of these systems share is they are normally powered by electricity. Electricity has its price, so any attempt toward better performance is a plus.
HVAC System Points:
Find a qualified contractor you can trust. If you are a home owner or small commercial building owner, find a good HVAC contractor or mechanic to assess and work on your system. Assuming you are a large commercial building owner, locate a commercial HVAC contractor for normal upkeep and a trusted mechanical engineer for third party suggestions. We do advise against using a mechanical engineer employed by the HVAC Company; find a 3rd party service for impartial information.
Validate your HVAC system load. Commercial buildings have more requirements regarding code conformance, minimum ventilation rates, etc and are individual to each place.
Choose equipment rated for the load. NEVER OVERSIZE! Going overboard does not apply for HVAC systems. It will cost more to purchase the apparatus as well as use it. Consult with your contractor to figure out the proper capacity
Buy high efficiency or Energy Star equipment. Most of the newer systems come with variable speed drives for fans and compressors. Over the years of ownership this is repaid many times over. Compare standard efficiency equipment to high efficiency equipment when it comes to the installation cost and life cycle costs. Any good HVAC company or contractor can get this information for you.
Consider some kind of energy recapture for air that is exhausted from the place and use it to enhance the incoming fresh air. This is the air you have paid for, so using a portion of the existing energy before blowing it out it should be necessary.
For large commercial complexes, think about conditioning the outside air with a specialized outside air unit. This can eliminate any problems regarding moisture control in most cases. It will also increase comfort and enable further downsizing of equipment.
Commercial complexes might want to look into equipment economizers. Many current codes call for economizers on equipment in excess of 15 tons in size. Often available at a low initial cost during set-up, these units use fresh air from outside when the temperatures (or humidity) outside is lower than the temperature inside.
Both residential owners and small commercial building owners should install thermostats you can program. Large buildings should setup a Direct Digital Control (DDC) system. The investment will more than pay back the price very quickly.
The third step to realize energy and HVAC system optimization is to control the system.
Programmable Thermostats: A great investment for the homeowner is a programmable thermostat. These are simple to use and come with built in strategies based on time scheduling. Most companies offer 7 day programs which will control the HVAC system timing and temperature. This is the best way to ensure the system is on only when necessary.
DDC Systems: For the large commercial building, I consider this as a must have system. Installation costs have steadily decreased and performance reliability has steadily increased. They can be incorporated into any system and enhanced as required. Some of the more popular elements of these systems are enhanced start/stop, multiple zone controls, temperature sensor and ventilation control. A key benefit of these systems is their capability to be integrated into any size system. This implies you’ll be able to setup a somethng simple to begin with then add more controls later to include everything. Again, the payback is quick and well worth the money spent.
Coil Cleaning: This is always a big item missed by residential and commercial building owners. Condenser coils collect dirt and debris on their surfaces because they are outdoors. Diry coils make the compressor work harder and results in a higher refrigerant temperature in your refrigeration system. Dirty evaporation and heat coils circulate the dust and fibers inside the building. Clean them a minimum of once a year
Operation and General Maintenance
The fourth and last step to realize better system operation is regular maintenance. The most efficient systems are well managed. You can ensure reliability, efficiency as well as longevity for the HVAC system by using these suggestions.
Find a professional contractor you trust. Find the best company or technician to analyze and work on your system. If you are a large business owner, find a commercial|an industrial} HVAC contractor for regular maintenance. Ensure you keep track of servicing with when they vist and what they did each time.
Home owners must always get a regular check up. The way your system works will fluctuate with the seasons of the year.
Change air filters on a schedule. Always use quality filters to make sure most of the dust is captured. Dirty filters negate your savings and allow dust to pass through.
Energy and HVAC optimization will help to decrease energy costs. General knowledge of your system and becoming familiar with improvement techniques will save on energy costs and boost the life span of your equipment.