Heating and ventilation are of utmost importance in both homes and office buildings. That’s why we employ the help of HVAC systems. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems function to maintain the comfort and safety of building occupants. Heating and air conditioning components assist us by controlling indoor climate and proper airflow, ensuring that we neither freeze nor sweat like mad. Health benefits of a well-maintained HVAC system come into play with the prevention of mold, which frequently thrives in warm, damp areas. We want to do our best to maximize efficiency.
Upgrading HVAC Systems
HVAC systems have the potential to use upwards of 40% of the total electricity consumed in any building, as heating and especially cooling are generally run by electric power. The good news is that these systems have gotten much better since as recently as the 1970s, with modern air conditioners using 30-50% less energy to produce cool air. There are several ways to ensure that you get the most from your HVAC system, including upgrading it entirely. Keep a few things in mind upon deciding on a HVAC overhaul.
- Size is Wise. To ensure maximum efficiency, you must have the correctly-sized heating and air conditioning equipment. Square footage of the unit and the area to be managed by it can play a small part, however this method doesn’t account for the building’s design or efficiency. A building that’s been renovated with updated windows and insulation will improve its own efficiency, requiring smaller heating and cooling units. Oversized HVAC units were common in old buildings and homes, but were often impractical. Using oversized equipment results in higher purchase prices and increased day-to-day charges for use. Therefore it makes good sense (or cents, given money savings) to swap out large models for their smaller counterparts.
- Model Efficiency. Air conditioning units come in two variations: standard-efficiency and high-efficiency. Standard efficiency models get the job done and are affordable, but are perhaps not quite as powerful as the high-efficiency units. High-efficiency units pack quite a punch, but can carry large price tags. The best idea is to consult HVAC technicians to compare costs between the two types based on the entire life of the cooling unit. Standard units may have a smaller up-front sticker price, but will require maintenance over time, whereas high-efficiency units could function better and longer.
- Supplemental Equipment. Different regions have varying temperature patterns, so supplemental HVAC equipment may be required. Dehumidification units are ideal for humid climates, as maintaining control over building humidity levels makes the environment more comfortable and permits equipment downsizing. Buildings in dry climates would benefit from using evaporative coolers, which use evaporated water as a cooling mechanism. Still more, as heating in dark and less insulated spaces like garages is often lacking, radiant heat to warm objects in a room will improve conditions and save on fuel. Many businesses also conduct heat-generating processes, like cooking, so heat recovery units would capture and reuse that same heat to manage heating and cooling costs.
Many buildings are impacted by what goes on inside the building just as much as (and sometimes even more than) the weather conditions outside.
Maintaining HVAC Systems
Heaters and air conditioners are generally well-functioning equipment. However, even they need a little help sometimes. Several maintenance measures can be taken to ensure maximum efficiency.
- Call in the HVAC Technicians. Specialists in the fields of heating and air conditioning train rigorously in specialized programs at vocational schools like RSI, and can perform a variety of checks on your system. A few of these include combustion efficiency and refrigerant charge.
- Clean those filters. You know how hair dryers gather dust and lint and proceed to decline in usefulness? Well, your air conditioner’s filters do the same thing—if you fail to clean them regularly. Dirt and gunk force it to work harder, so be sure to clean or replace the unit’s filters.
- Inspect for leaks. Pipes and ductwork can potentially be major energy wasters. If ducts are leaking, cool air is released in all the wrong places, so make appropriate use of insulation and duct tape.
These and other measures will aid in overall HVAC system functionality. From unit size to additional equipment for better airflow, be sure to have your bases covered. And, if you run into a problem, qualified technicians with HVAC training are always a phone call away to remedy an issue or walk you through the steps to fix it. Whether you are at home or in the workplace, an efficient HVAC system enhances the quality of the space.
Read more about Understanding Your Home Heating and Cooling System.