Never too early to start planning for winter heating season (part 2 of 2: Your Business)

Last week we highlighted a few residential tips for saving money and energy during the winter months. If you haven’t had a chance to read that blog, it provides a good refresher for some winterizing basics, as well as links to other resources for saving energy.

That said, we all know that energy bills for commercial buildings of all types (office building, warehouse, school, hospital, manufacturing facilities, golf clubs, etc.) are much greater and represent some tremendous energy savings opportunities. Annually, energy costs for commercial buildings in the U.S. are more than $100 billion, which is why H20 Pros are always looking to help building owners and managers save money and energy.

So, here are some tips that contractors, building engineers, commercial building owners and plant managers, can use to winterize their facilities.

Updating an HVAC System Offers Future Savings

Replacing an old, inefficient HVAC system doesn’t need to be a financial burden. It can be a company’s chance to cut energy costs. Engineers have a much better understanding of the heating and cooling demands on commercial buildings and can spec a new HVAC system that waste less energy and less money. Here are some strategies to consider when investing in a new HVAC system:

  • Invest in the highest-efficiency boiler, furnace, chiller, air handler and rooftop unit that your company can afford. High-efficiency systems use less energy and cost less in utility bills.
  • Recalculate the energy load on your building. Chances are the building and its use may have changed since the previous system was installed.
  • With better building efficiency, you may be able to install a smaller and less costly HVAC system. Simple measures like reducing the lighting level, insulating windows and sealing duct leaks may decrease HVAC demands.
  • Appliances and other equipment also can emit heat and strain your HVAC system. Evaluate their use and energy costs.
  • Consider automating energy management. Various new computerized systems adjust airflow and temperature based on occupancy, building use and other factors.

Automated HVAC Systems Cut Costs

Currently, a third of U.S. buildings — all greater than 100,000 square feet — use automated systems, to regulate their HVACR needs. Estimates are they can save at least 10 percent of overall building energy consumption. The savings are even greater for buildings lacking efficient HVAC systems. What can you do?

  • Control energy costs by automating your commercial HVAC system with an energy management system, also known as a building automation system (BAS). With a BAS, you can integrate additional building services, including security and fire prevention.
  • Use an energy management system to track building traffic and find the best time of day to start cooling a building to maintain a desired temperature.
  • Ask about Web browser interfaces, a recent innovation in energy management systems. The interfaces allow for easy-to-use centralized management of HVAC systems and other services for buildings at different locations.
  • Define your energy management goals and use the internet to research information and resources for the best possible system.

The future seems limitless for automating energy efficiency in building services. In addition to saving energy, these systems may also reduce the costs of overall building maintenance.

Green Design Reduces Demands on HVAC Systems

Keep your company out of the red with high-energy costs by investing in green products and green design. Green design will reduce demands on commercial HVAC systems that often run continuously and can raise the value of the property. Green products include windows that optimize sunlight and reduce the need for artificial lights that strain cooling systems.

Companies should consider investing in HVAC systems that use non-polluting refrigerants — a green product that won’t harm the environment. The EPA is phasing out ozone-damaging refrigerants for a family of refrigerants that don’t contain chlorine.

With energy prices not expected to go down significantly any time soon, building owners and engineers will continue to seek higher-efficiency HVAC equipment. Getting ready for the heating season is a good time for all of us to consider ways we can save energy and lower our costs.