How to Increase Energy Efficiency in Your Building With a New HVAC System
With so much of the monthly budget being dedicated to energy, it makes sense to look for ways to increase energy efficiency and cut costs. One of the most effective ways to increase energy efficiency in a commercial building is by installing a new high-efficiency HVAC system. Consider the following factors as you decide on installing a new heating and cooling system.
Choose a High-Efficiency System
High-efficiency HVAC systems can typically reduce heating and cooling costs by 20 to 30 percent or more. There are three main choices available when choosing a high-efficiency HVAC system:
- Furnaces and air conditioners: You can find multiple types of high-efficiency systems that can substantially boost energy efficiency and cost savings. Furnace efficiency is rated by AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, which indicates how much energy in the fuel consumed by the furnace is turned into heat. Central air conditioners are rated by SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher these ratings, the more efficient the system will be. Also consider other energy-efficiency indicators, such as the governments Energy Star rating, which indicates the rated system has been tested and certified to be as energy efficient as possible.
- Heat Pumps: Heat pumps are traditionally considered highly efficient. They work on the principle of capturing heat and moving it around, taking it outside when cooling and bringing it inside when heating. The cooling functions of a heat pump are rated by SEER, while the heating functions are rated by HSPF, or Heating Seasonal Performance Factor.
- Geothermal systems: Geothermal systems offer the most effective and energy-efficient ways to increase energy efficiency. They are based on a heat pump, but conduct heat transfer through a system of pipes buried at a depth of about six to ten feet in the ground. There, temperatures stay the same all year round, and this consistent source of heat capture and release allows the geothermal system to maintain high efficiency. Heating functions of geothermal systems can reach an astonishing 300 to 400 percent efficiency level.
Ensure Proper Sizing
Any HVAC system must be properly sized to work correctly and maintain its level of energy efficiency. Sizing, in this case, means choosing a system with the functional capacity to provide the amount of heating and cooling needed to meet the requirements of the occupants of the building. Before choosing a new HVAC system for your building, have your HVAC contractor perform a load calculation. This procedures takes into account various physical and thermal characteristics of the building, plus the occupants’ comfort needs, to determine how much heating or cooling is needed. With this information, a properly sized system can easily be chosen.
Use Effective Control Systems
The control systems you use can have a significant effect on HVAC efficiency. Some possibilities include:
Programmable thermostats: These electronic thermostats give you very precise control over the operation of your HVAC system. They can be used to automatically reduce operation after closing time, for example. At the same time, they can increase operation before business starts for the day to ensure a comfortable environment when employees and customers arrive.
- Demand or CO2 sensors: These devices are designed to regulate ventilation air based on the amount of CO2 in the indoor environment, which indicates how many people are present. This ensures better indoor air quality and more efficient HVAC system operation.
- Zoning systems: Zoning systems allow you to separate the building into separate areas, or zones, where temperature demands can be regulated individually. It is also possible to significantly reduce or shut off heating and cooling to zones that aren’t occupied or that need less temperature control.
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