When winter temps finally set in we will be forced to deal with high heating bills. Did you know that heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) accounts for 40% of a building’s electricity use, an inefficient HVAC system becomes a serious threat, indeed. Poor HVAC systems make buildings more expensive to keep comfortable. For businesses especially, that means paying through the nose to keep customers and guests comfortable.
If your system is older than 10 years, it’s not going to be as efficient as today’s HVAC systems. It may be time for you replace it. But there are at least 6 important steps to take before selecting a system that you may be unaware of or simply neglect to do.
6 things you should absolutely do before updating your HVAC system
- Work with an energy consultant from the very beginning to help with all the following!
- Reduce the amount of heating and cooling you actually use (i.e. - load.) Tighten your building envelope through proper air sealing, ventilation, and improved insulation. Install energy-efficient doors and windows. Upgrade your lighting systems. Control for solar gain. (e.g. – Keep the sun out when it’s hot outside, and let more sun in when it’s cold.)
- After any upgrades and/or retrofits, make sure your load calculations are accurate. Use ACCA Manual N for heat/cooling load calculations for commercial, institutional and industrial buildings, low-rise apartment buildings and residential structures converted to commercial use. Use ACCA Manual J for residential applications.
- Heat/Cooling load calculations are crucial in determining the correct HVAC equipment size for your facility. Avoid installing an oversized system at all costs! Oversized equipment is more expensive to install and will be far more expensive to operate. Oversized systems have short cycling periods; they run long just long enough to send cool air through the home, but not long enough to remove humidity from the air. An undersized system will have to work harder and use more energy to produce the desired level of comfort.
- Determine which heating and cooling technology you wish to use. Look at various options; could you possibly experience even greater benefits from a geothermal heating and cooling system?
- Hire a reputable HVAC contractor. Look for credentials. Determine if the contractor belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) or the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). Look for contractors whose technicians are certified by North American Technical Excellence (NATE) and/or partnered with ENERGY STAR. Ask for local referrals and references. Good HVAC contractors won’t dissuade you from exploring the latest energy-efficient technologies. Their technicians are likely the most professional and up-to-date. Don’t do business with a company offering to give an over-the-phone estimate without personally looking at the job to be done. Obtain estimates from multiple contractors. Be sure to factor in routine maintenance services and customer warranties.
By working with an energy consultant throughout the process of replacing an HVAC system, you are ensuring that you will not only choose the right equipment but also be able to receive the very best performance out of your new HVAC system. A good system will not only provide comfortable temperatures and improve indoor air quality – it will also save you money in energy costs over time and pay for itself well before the end of its lifecycle.