A Whole-Building Plan for Energy Savings: How All Parts of the HVAC System Are Involved
While you might have heard about the benefits of certain high-efficiency HVAC components, maximizing your energy savings in the Delaware and Maryland area’s muggy summers and chilly winters takes more than just one or two components. Because every part of your building’s HVAC system relies on the others for optimal performance, your entire system must be designed for efficiency.
A forced-air (ducted) heating and cooling system is designed to work with a specific amount of airflow. When this airflow is impaired, not only will your building be less comfortable, but you’ll also see higher energy bills and more frequent component breakdowns.
Your air filter plays a critical yet often overlooked role in ensuring good airflow. As the system runs, the air filter accumulates dust and other debris. A buildup of this debris restricts the amount of air entering the system. This forces the motor to work harder to pull in the air it needs, causing it to use more energy and sustain wear unnecessarily.
In an air conditioning system, when too little warm indoor flows over the evaporator coil, the coil’s temperature drops and the component can eventually freeze over. This strains the compressor in the outdoor unit, reducing your system’s efficiency and putting the compressor at risk for failure.
This is why it’s essential to change the filter according to the schedule the manufacturer recommends. The type of filter you use also matters. Installing a high-efficiency air filter might seem like a good way to improve your indoor air quality, not all HVAC system motors are strong enough to work with these filters.
In addition, your air duct system must be correctly designed and sized for sufficient airflow. Undersized ducts restrict airflow, while leaky and poorly insulated ducts waste your warm or cool air. A lack of return air ducts also reduces your energy savings.
Reliable Electrical Components
The type of motor in your forced-air system has a major impact on the whole system’s energy efficiency. While older HVAC systems used single-stage motors, new HVAC systems use two-stage or variable-speed motors. These modern motors adjust their speed to provide more even, consistent temperatures while also conserving energy.
In gas and other fuel-burning heating systems, these motors are often paired with modulating gas valves, which lets the furnace adjust the amount of fuel to the optimal amount for both comfort and energy savings.
Incorrect voltage can cause the motor to have trouble starting, which strains the motor and compressor. This both wastes energy and wears on the components. Even loose and otherwise faulty wiring reduces your system’s energy efficiency by impairing the flow of electricity and potentially causing your system to short cycle, or turn on and off too frequently. These and most other electrical issues can be corrected during an annual professional maintenance inspection.
If you decide to upgrade your system for energy savings, upgrade both your indoor and outdoor units at the same time. While it might be tempting to upgrade just the indoor unit to cut costs, HVAC systems are designed to operate as matched units and only reach maximum energy efficiency when correctly matched.
It’s not just the components inside the system that influence its efficiency. The condition of your building also has an effect. By increasing your building’s energy efficiency, you reduce your HVAC system’s demand for energy. Using caulk and weatherstripping to seal air leaks around the building and improving your insulation are two quick, cost-effective way to accomplish this.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information about achieving greater energy savings and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!