Five ways to reduce HVAC system costs

Strategies minimize energy, maintenance expenses
Monday, July 29, 2013
By Courtney Scharff

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems account for 32 per cent of a commercial building’s energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Through a combination of smart purchasing, maintenance programs and strategic planning, building managers can reduce overall consumption and keep heating and cooling expenditures low.

“Recent advancements in HVAC technologies make energy efficiency more accessible to a wide range of buildings – from apartment buildings and corporate headquarters to universities and retail stores,” says Chris Makarewicz, eastern North American operations manager at Jaga Climate Systems. “When building managers are aware of the specific ways they can reduce HVAC demands, they can develop customized systems that help to improve energy efficiency throughout a building.”

Here are five strategies to save money on HVAC systems.

1. Increase energy efficiency
Building managers often underestimate the value of an energy-efficient HVAC system. To ensure HVAC systems are truly energy-efficient, consider a solution that uses low water temperatures, so it can quickly react to changes in indoor temperature. When a system requires less time to react to temperature changes, it will help reduce the overall energy consumption necessary to keep occupants comfortable year-round.

2. Install space-saving systems
When planning new construction projects, maximizing space can be one of the most effective ways to reduce cost. Instead of traditional, bulky HVAC systems, consider space-saving units to help capitalize on added space. Since space-saving systems free up areas in a building, extra space can be used for an additional floor, which can directly translate to another revenue source in an office or apartment building.

3. Use a low maintenance system
An outdated HVAC system that is constantly failing or requires additional maintenance will drain a building’s resources. Ensure that maintenance costs remain low by installing newer, more durable components such as heat pumps, radiators and high-efficiency condensing boilers. Since these systems use the most up-to-date technology, they will require less repair and reduce costs associated with excessive maintenance or replacement.

4. Be mindful of set-up
HVAC systems that are poorly set up will end up heating or cooling an empty building and wasting energy. Create a smart plan for HVAC system setup by considering the varying occupancy levels of the building throughout the day and year. If the building is empty during a certain season such as summer, consider significantly reducing cooling requirements during this time. Additionally, if there are times of day when the building regularly has an influx in occupancy, reduce temperatures accordingly to accommodate changes.

5. Utilize renewable energy
HVAC systems that are used in conjunction with renewable energy sources such as geothermal or solar sources will use considerably less energy than traditional systems. Also, using renewable energy sources with HVAC systems will help eliminate the need to rely on costly and unstable fossil fuel prices. While renewable energy source systems can be a large upfront investment, they provide the highest continual cost-savings through reduced lifetime energy consumption.

“Often, building managers will just look to one small part of an HVAC system to save money rather than the entire system,” says Makarewicz. “By using a holistic approach that takes all parts of the system into account, and using energy-efficient equipment, buildings can significantly reduce one of the primary operational costs.”

Courtney Scharff is an account executive at Mulberry Marketing Communications.

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