How Your HVAC System Is Affecting Your Energy Bill
Energy costs for heating and cooling a commercial facility represent a large percentage of the annual budget. You can save a significant amount on your regular HVAC costs by understanding how your HVAC system is affecting your energy bill and what you can do to improve the equipment’s efficiency and function. The following information will give you a short introduction to three of the most common factors that influence how your HVAC system affects your energy expenses.
1. HVAC System Inefficiency
The efficiency of your furnace, air conditioner, heat pump, or boiler represents how much energy is required to produce heating or cooling for your commercial facility. Equipment with better efficiency uses less energy to heat or cool your indoor spaces. It therefore costs less to operate. Many older HVAC systems have relatively low efficiency ratings. These systems can keep your building adequately heated or cooled, but the cost will be higher than necessary.
Regular preventive maintenance and repairs can boost efficiency of existing systems, but there will come a time when these steps are no longer effective. If your heating or cooling equipment is approaching the point where it needs to be replaced, pay attention to the efficiency rating of the new system, such as SEER for cooling equipment and AFUE for heating systems.
Purchase equipment with the highest efficiency rating your budget allows. The initial investment may be more than expected, but in the long run it will pay off. Replacing older, less efficient systems with newer ones with high efficiency ratings can slash your monthly costs by half or more. In general, you can expect to recover the costs of a high-efficiency HVAC system installation by about the halfway point of the equipment’s expected useful life.
2. Poor HVAC System Performance
Poor HVAC system performance can also affect the amount of energy needed to produce heating and cooling, and thus the amount of money you pay every month. Equipment in poor condition will not be able to function adequately, which can leave your indoor spaces uncomfortable. The equipment will consume more energy to produce an inferior amount of heating and cooling.
Regular preventive maintenance is the best solution to poor HVAC system performance. Maintenance allows a trained HVAC technician the opportunity to inspect your heating and cooling systems before making adjustments and minor repairs to improve function. You should schedule a maintenance visit at least once a year, usually in spring for cooling systems and in the fall for heating equipment.
3. Air Leaks and Loss of Conditioned Air
Loss of conditioned air from the ductwork or from air leaks in your facility’s envelope can mean substantial waste of energy and money. Broken seals, loose or missing segments, or damage to ductwork can cause conditioned air to escape before it reaches your indoor areas. You will lose air you’ve already paid to condition and will need to pay to condition more. If the problem is bad enough, you can lose all of the heated or cooled air your HVAC system produces to ductwork leaks.
Holes, gaps, or other openings in your building’s envelope can also allow conditioned air to escape. Seasonal outside air can also get into your building through these openings. Areas around windows and doors, wall penetrations where pipes or conduits enter the building, areas around foundations or attics, and inadequately insulated walls can allow air and energy to leave your building.
To solve this problem, have an energy audit performed that can pinpoint areas of air and energy loss. These audits use specialized equipment and testing procedures to find air leaks that can otherwise be invisible.