Normally, in matters of everyday life, people choose the cheaper option. But in the case of saving power, make sure you stay as far away from the cheapest kilowatt-hour as possible.
Before we dive into the discussion of how to get better HVAC energy efficiency, let’s first talk about what this term actually means.
HVAC energy efficiency is all about cost-effectiveness, meaning that you use very little of the appliances you own but get the most out of them. If you’re wondering why HVAC energy efficiency is so critical, HVAC systems are responsible for more than half of your energy consumption and costs.
So, even the smallest efficiency maneuvers can make a significant difference and save up a substantial amount of your money.
To better understand your temperature control system, here are a few ratings and commonly discussed terms regarding HVAC energy efficiency that should be cleared first.
- SEER-seasonal energy efficiency ratio: SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency ratio, is directly related to HVAC energy efficiency. You get your seasonal energy efficiency ratio when you divide your cooling output expressed in British Thermal Units, or BTU by your electricity consumption in kilowatt-hours. A higher value means better efficiency.
- EER-energy efficiency ratio: EER, or energy efficiency ratio, is quite similar to the SEER. The only difference between these two quantities is that EER does not take into account the seasonal averages.
Hence, for calculating EER, we only consider the ratio from strict laboratory conditions. Like SEER, a higher EER also means a better HVAC energy efficiency.
- HSPF-heating seasonal performance factor: HSPF, or heating seasonal performance factor, is a measure of heat pump efficiency. Heat pumps are bidirectional, meaning they can produce both heat and cool air.
To calculate HSPF, we first calculate the total heating space in BTU and divide it by the total electricity consumption of the heat pump in kilowatt-hours. Like the previous two ratings, this quantity is also directly proportional to the HVAC energy efficiency.
Now that we have become familiar with these terms, it’s time to get to our main discussion. Here are 11 practical, tried, and tested ways to effectively increase your HVAC energy efficiency.
There are a number of reasons that can convince you to go for retrofitting. Many people get tired of fixing an old unit again and again. Others consider retrofitting instead of investing big, especially when they are about to shift to a new location. Or, sometimes, you don’t have the money for the investment at hand and need some time.
But most importantly, experts suggest that retrofitting is excellent for increasing HVAC energy efficiency and bringing more comfort to the table.
For effective retrofitting, look for large, energy-intensive systems in good condition. According to The Department of Energy, you can save at least 35 percent each year.
The added or replaced parts make a distinctive difference by increasing HVAC energy efficiency. Moreover, the retrofits keep the temperatures and humidity at a constant level and thus improve comfort. You can retrofit your air conditioners by taking these measures:
- Add condenser fan controls
- Replace the compressor
- Install air side economizers
- Install demand-controlled ventilation
Programmable Controls and Thermostat
Believe it when we say that you are not the only one who forgets to tone down the thermostat or turn off the lights when everyone has left the office.
Well, why not do something about it and install an automated system that controls the thermostat and turns on and off the lights according to your schedule? While you’re at it, also take some time out and replace all of your old light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lights to help save electricity.
Insulate Your Ducts
Your equipment utilizes a great amount of energy to produce conditioned air, making this cold air extremely valuable and precious.
It would be a waste of all that energy if you were to lose this conditioned air, which is often seen in poorly insulated homes and apartments.
The same is the case for heaters and warm air. Hence, to get better HVAC energy efficiency, add insulation to trap all of the warm or conditioned air.
Look for air leaks in places such as vents, outlets, ducts, and pipes, and cover them with adequate insulation.
Use foam board to insulate and cover walls and windows. The amount of insulation added because of any material is equal to its “r” value.
Preserve Airflow By Repair Leaky Ducts
Adding a layer of insulation helps increase HVAC energy efficiency. But make sure you don’t overstep and block even the necessary airflow.
Keep all your vents and outflows clean. Sometimes, debris, dust, leaves, or garbage can obstruct the airways.
Some people arrange their furniture in such a way that does not allow free flow of air. Even air conditioners require preserving airflow to work efficiently.
Upgrade to Variable Refrigerant Flow HVAC
Switching to a Variable Refrigerant Flow, or VRF, HVAC system effectively improves HVAC energy efficiency.
The advantage of such a system is that it can provide heat in one part of the building and have a cooling effect in the other part simultaneously.
Due to this reason, your equipment only utilizes the energy it requires, unlike the case with older, outdated systems. Moreover, the compressor’s speed can also change according to the requirements. All these factors have a combined effect to help save money and energy.
Set Your HVAC Thermostat
Usually, a temperature change of about one degree Fahrenheit is so insignificant that people hardly notice it. In fact, even a 2-3 degrees rise or fall is not enough to make people complain.
Hence, setting your thermostat near the temperature outside works wonders in increasing HVAC energy efficiency and saving you costs on energy expenses. For instance, in summers, when it is hot outside, keep your thermostat at 78 degrees.
Setting it at 75 degrees consumes almost 18 percent more energy, while a thermostat at 72 degrees utilizes 78 percent more power. You can set your thermostat even higher for better HVAC energy efficiency, especially when you’re alone and people are not around.
Invest in Energy-Efficient HVAC Equipment
People are often hesitant before investing big, and just because they can’t make up their minds, they stick to older appliances and systems.
Experts are of the view that if you replace a 10-year-old system and equipment with newer models that have a higher SEER rating, you are bound to get a double, or even a triple, return on the investment.
Make sure you buy the equipment that has a SEER rating between 14 and 18 at the very least to get the best HVAC energy efficiency. Energy Star-rated models are also a great choice since they strictly adhere to the proper guidelines.
Be Punctual About Maintenance
New equipment is always better than older devices when it comes to performance and efficiency.
But, if you are punctual and regular regarding maintenance, you will boost the equipment’s efficiency and save up a small fortune you’re destined to spend otherwise on repairing expenditures.
If you’re confused about when to go for maintenance, try once before and after summers and winters. Or, you can always search over the internet for commercial air duct cleaning near me and ask to schedule an inspection.
Shut Down Unused Electronics
Shutting down unused electronics might be one of the most obvious tips, but it is also the one that people ignore the most. Idle speakers, machines, and computers are HVAC energy efficiency’s worst bane.
Not only do they utilize extra energy, but they also generate more heat, which directly affects other equipment. Your AC, for instance, will have to work longer to cool down the office when you leave several idle computers turned on.
If you’re pondering on why your device draws electricity even when it is only just plugged in, take a look at this statistic.
According to the US Department of Energy, the power drawn by unused devices continuously plugged in accounts for almost 10 percent of the total energy used in homes.
Hence, to considerably save your total energy expenditure and increase HVAC energy efficiency, shut down and plug out unused electronic devices.
Keep a Check on Air Filters
We have often seen that people who suffer from poor HVAC energy efficiency also have blocked air filters.
Whenever an ail filter gets clogged with dust or debris, that particular unit has to be run for a longer period. Consequently, it utilizes more power which, in turn, costs you a lot of money. When dust and debris initially contaminate your equipment, they get stuck in the filter.
But, with time, when the filter gets completely blocked, it no longer prevents the particles from entering the system and damaging the parts.
Eventually, the dust accumulates on the fan blades and slows the moving parts. As a result, your equipment slows down and wastes a significant amount of power.
Increase Awareness Regarding HVAC Energy Efficiency
With proper HVAC awareness and training, homeowners and employees in the HVAC industry can efficiently maximize the usage and life of HVAC systems without going overboard on consumption.
Keeping a regular check on energy usage benefits the environment, but more importantly, it ensures that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on bills or repair and maintenance.
Education on HVAC energy efficiency should be made common so that everyone is informed about the benefits and contribute their efforts towards it.