Four Quick Tips For Improving Your HVAC System
- Check Ventilation Many buildings are either under-ventilated (poor indoor air quality) or over-ventilated (expensive). Re-adjust to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) standards.
- Measure Airflow Measure air pressure, velocity and flow in duct traverses. Good installation and maintenance of ducts helps improve efficient airflow and energy savings.
- Add VFDs
Variable air volume systems use variable frequency drives (VFDs) to more efficiently regulate motors and pumps.
- Check Building Envelope
Check heating and cooling loss due to poor construction, missing or inadequate insulation and moisture intrusion. Correcting the defects can result in significant building efficiency. According to the US EPA, 45% of office building energy costs can be attributed to space heating and cooling. Energy savings can help make the case for an HVAC upgrade. It all begins with an energy audit.
"Using energy efficiently is cool again," says Paul Twite, referring to the current high cost of energy. Twite is a power quality engineer, a Level II certified thermographer and a co-owner of 24-7 Power, an electrical consulting and engineering service company. EPA studies show that a 15 cfm airflow differential can impact annual HVAC energy costs by up to 81% depending upon the HVAC system and variations in climate.
Do the math on employee productivity.
Assume a 100,000 square foot office building with seven employees per 1000 square feet (per ASHRAE 62-2001), and an average salary of $30,000 per employee. Assume occupant dissatisfaction and/or absenteeism due to poor indoor air conditions reduces productivity by 2% yielding $420,000 per year in lost productivity, or $420 per square foot. Increasing average HVAC energy costs of $0.64 per square foot by even 5% to $0.67 is negligible compared to the productivity increases that may be realized through a clean and comfortable indoor environment.
Image of meters was reproduced with permission by the Fluke Corporation.