Spring into Energy and Water Savings

Spring isn’t the time to rest on your laurels for surviving winter…it’s the time to prepare for surviving summer.

With energy prices rising (again), and after what was a long, cold winter for most of the nation, it’s probably a good idea to have your HVAC system inspected and serviced before the summer weather kicks in.

Routine seasonal inspections and service are probably on your list of things to do – but this year, perhaps you might want to do something more in depth, like having an energy audit or retrocommissioning study performed.

Energy audits will advise you of capital projects that might be economically feasible, like chiller, cooling tower, and boiler replacements. Retrocommissioning studies will advise of you low-cost, no-cost fixes to HVAC, lighting, and controls systems, such as reprogramming controllers and schedules; replacing broken dampers and economizers; and installing VFDs and occupancy sensors.

As you consider these types of projects, it pays to be on the lookout for incentive programs for energy efficiency. For example:

  • Utility rebates may be available for retrocommissioning studies, large capital systems replacements, and lower-cost upgrades and retrofits.
  • Federal tax deductions up to $1.80 sq ft might be available for HVAC and lighting retrofits and systems replacements. If you made changes as far back as 2006, you might still be able to claim the credits!
  • State energy offices and other sources for energy funding may have low-interest loans available to help finance capital projects.

A great place to look for energy efficiency incentive programs in your area is an online database, www.dsireusa.org.

For federal tax incentives, check out the website of Engineered Tax Services (www.engineeredtaxservices.com). This company specializes in helping commercial building owners obtain tax deductions on energy efficiency investments for buildings.

Whatever you do to save energy and water, it’s important that you invest a little extra money to help improvements last over time. This is called persistence. Persistence measures include having a building automation system, dashboards (such as www.energyprint.com), or other types of monitoring-based commissioning systems track energy and water usage and send you monthly reports. The faster you react to unanticipated increases in usage, the more money you’ll save in reduced operating expenses stemming from the fixes.

Recently, ITT RCW sponsored a webcast on how to save energy in commercial buildings, how to make those savings last and how to find financial incentives for paying from efficiency upgrades. The webcast, Economics of Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings, can be accessed at no charge at www.csemag.com/webcast, and you can even download a copy of the slides, many of which have references to additional online resources.

So – spring into summer by paying extra attention to your HVAC systems. You’ll stand a better chance of having your systems operating better and more reliably during the hot temperatures ahead, and at lower cost.

Tell us about your latest retrofit project.