The HVAC systems that heat and cool your buildings cost about $5,000 per ton to implement. Let’s break that down:
1 ton = 12,000 Btu/hr = 3.516 kW
Depending on the size of the building, HVAC system sizes up or down. For example, in Washington, DC, commercial buildings typically require 200-500 tons for their HVAC system, based on their size and primary use.
$5,000 per ton * 200 tons = $1,000,000
$5,000 per ton * 500 tons = $2,500,000
That’s not pocket change and you can’t get out of paying it. What you can do is dramatically extend the life of your HVAC by taking proper care of it. A poorly maintained HVAC can last less than five years. But, if you give it the attention and maintenance it requires, it can last for up to 40 years.
Making your system last longer is not the only advantage of maximizing efficiency of your HVAC system. If you take proper care of it, it will also run more efficiently, exerting less effort for the same results, leading to additional savings every month.
1. Keep Up with HVAC Fan Maintenance
I’m sure you know fan maintenance is important, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it often falls to the bottom of your priority list and gets pushed back day after day. We all have things like this in our job, I advise you to not let fan maintenance be the task you skip out on.
One of the biggest energy draws we see from HVAC systems is when the fan is out of balance and has restrictions due to a lack of grease, too much friction, or restriction on duct work.
Additionally, the dirtier the coils are, the harder your fan has to work to make the building reach the desired temperature. Your fans may be running full blast, but everyone will still be hot if the air is not flowing.
If you could see exactly how much energy your HVAC is using by collecting data from submeters, and compare its efforts to the inside and outside temperature of your building, you could track these patterns and see when your fans start to underperform.
Real-time alerts can let you know about a problem right away, so you can keep it under control without always having to keep it top-of-mind.
2. Look Out for an HVAC Leak
A leak in your air duct could be detrimental if you do not catch it quickly. Leaks cause air to not be delivered where it is supposed to go, so the cool air never reaches the space, and the HVAC has to continue to run longer, until the thermostat reaches the set temperature, eventually shortening its lifespan.
3. Make Sure Turning Rings Are Working Properly
A good rule of thumb: if it’s noisy, then something is wrong. Over time, you should check to make sure turning rings have not fallen off or gone crooked. Also, check to see that the air is being pushed in the right direction. If it is not, you may just have to rotate the fan.
It’s possible that you will need to pay to re-angle and recalibrate your fans. If that is the best way to fix the problem, it will be worth the investment by making your equipment last longer.
4. Clean Your HVAC Coils Regularly
Although condenser coil cleaning would be ideal once per quarter, we often find it is done twice per year or less. Without clean condenser coils your building will not be cooled effectively, and your cooling efficiency can drop by 30%.
Proper maintenance for coil cleaning requires greasing, making sure the lines are not kinked, and seeing that there is a proper charge at the pump. These processes will help avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your HVAC that would otherwise decrease its lifespan.
5. Maintain Proper HVAC Water Treatment
Without proper water treatment, your water flow will be restricted, causing damage at the pump. The solution is very simple: once a month, clean it with a water treatment chemical. You can also clean the pumps regularly by blowing out the strainer.
6. Keep Your Chillers Clean
Finally, it is important to remember that chillers have open loop systems and are affected by outside air. Dust, salmonella, bacteria, or barnacles can cause damage to chillers. Once again, consistent cleaning will be the key to keeping these problems under control.
There will always be more immediate issues at hand that take priority over cleaning and maintenance. However, if you want to make your HVAC last 40 years instead of 5, keep these six adjustments on your to-do list. You can perform most of the maintenance yourself, but the things that you need to pay for are equally important, and you will burn a bigger hole in your pocket if you put them off for too long.