Are You Wasting Energy in Your Business with These Common HVAC Mistakes?
Businesses don’t always recognize how much heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) energy they waste annually through mistakes they make. These are typically common oversights, easily remedied to result in an improved bottom line. Even though some of the mistakes may seem insignificant, a quick correction can create large differences in energy consumption, manifesting in money savings at the end of the year. AA-Air Co technicians witness common mistakes at businesses regularly, and then help owners to rectify these issues; ultimately putting money back where it belongs –– in the owners’ pockets. Let them help you do the same!
Common HVAC Mistakes Your Business May Be Making
Here’s a list of some the most common mistakes our HVAC technicians see at both Metro Knoxville, TN, small to medium businesses alike. Take an inventory at your business to see if any of these sound familiar:
- Overheating or overcooling your building. You may have your heat or air conditioning turned up too high, resulting in wasted energy. Signs this is happening may be employees using fans or space heaters to control personal-area temperatures, or propping windows or exterior doors open to compensate. You can’t keep everyone happy all the time, but you should think about setting temperatures a couple degrees either lower (heating) or higher (cooling) than you think is what’s needed. That number is usually more than adequate and will save you money. Also, consider installing locking thermostat settings to maintain your most energy-efficient and desired temperature settings.
- Failing to install and utilize programmable or WiFi thermostats. By programming your actual heating and cooling needs, instead of leaving one temperature on the thermostat 24/7, you can turn your heating and cooling down when the building is unoccupied (employees leave for the night and on the weekend). Accessing a thermostat through an internet connection allows you to check and verify settings at any time, and adjust as needed – even when you are not there. Holiday? Snow day? Override the “normal” program and keep your system in your “unoccupied” status. This saves both HVAC and electrical energy.
- Poor thermostat placement. Thermostats should not be placed on an outer wall, near a door that can produce drafts, nor in a closed-off or rarely occupied room or hallway. When choosing a place for a thermostat, avoid areas that can have temperature extremes – where your thermostat will perceive the room as cooler or warmer than the entire occupied space actually is. Placing a thermostat near computer equipment, heat producing lights, appliances that emit heat – all can produce inaccurate readings because that particular space is warmer compared to the rest of the office/store. For best results, place your thermostat on the interior wall of a highly-trafficked area.
- Skipping changing out your system’s filters. Does your system have only one filter, or more than one at every intake point? What kind of filters does your system require? The furnace and air-conditioning system’s filters need to be checked and changed (or in some cases, cleaned) on a regular basis for best efficiency and preventing damage to your system. The time frame for filter changes should be addressed by a professional HVAC technician to ascertain what timing is best, based on your business and the conditions inside your building. A regular maintenance program will help with this as well. Not only will you be sure to have your filters checked regularly, the technician will also assess for changes in your system’s performance; finding duct issues or impending mechanical failures.
- Disrupting the air flow. Did you rearrange the furniture or display units? The ability of an HVAC system to keep air temperatures comfortable can be disrupted by large pieces of furniture or partitions that can block air flow. Have you remodeled your office or store recently? Adding walls and doors can greatly affect air flow and impede your systems’ ability to keep the building’s spaces consistently warm or cool. When the system was installed, the air flow was balanced based on the configuration of the space. The amount of air going into the system should be equal to the volume going out. Covering or closing off vents can disrupt the balance and add stress to the overall system. This can cause leaks to develop in your system, which forces the unit to work harder – costing you more money in the long run.
- Not controlling direct sunlight with blinds or solar screen shades. Use the sun to its full advantage to help with your heating and cooling costs. If you have a window that needs to remain unobstructed, consider installing films to block UV light and help block against solar heat gain. In the cooler months, unobstructed windows can help collect solar heat given from sunlight during the day, which can make the sun your business’ energy friend. At night, insulated shades can help keep heated air inside. Conversely, in the summer, blocking the sun’s direct heat coming through the windows and keeping cooler air inside is the benefit. For natural light, open those coverings that don’t get direct sunlight. Shades can often now be automated to switch between open and closed throughout the day to maximize the benefits of natural light, but control heat gain/loss as needed in winter or summer.
- Thinking a preventive maintenance program is a waste of money. This is one of the biggest misconceptions that our technicians see. It couldn’t be further from the truth. A regular maintenance program allows technicians to keep your system in good working order and detect issues while they’re still small. This prevents your business from having bigger problems or needing to replace your system unnecessarily early because something was neglected or unnoticed by you. This applies to an energy audit as well. Your business should get one to ensure your business is using energy efficiently.
- Ignoring needed HVAC repairs when they first occur. This mistake leads to nothing but more money spent at the end of the road. Ignoring a repair only leads to a bigger repair and/or damage to your HVAC system. If an employee notices a strange smell, an unusual noise, a new draft, or a leak somewhere; get it checked immediately by a professional technician. The problem, more often than not, will not disappear and will simply develop into a more costly, bigger problem for your business. With a professional assessment, you can plan around your budget to address issues on a priority and seasonal basis.
- Putting off upgrading to energy-efficient or sorely needed new equipment. Of course, investing in new equipment costs money. However, upgrading only when your system is on its last leg or your equipment isn’t energy efficient is really not saving you money in the long run. All the wasted energy your existing equipment is consuming can be costing you more than if you simply invested in a new system. There can be seasonal special offers that can save you money on a replacement. Planning when/how you will buy your new system is more cost-effective (and much less stressful) than scrambling to find a solution when the existing equipment finally stops functioning. Plus, there are some options for financing systems for businesses. Take the opportunity when getting quotes to have your entire HVAC system inspected and evaluated. It’s the best time to make corrections to the problems that you’ve been living with – tell your AA-Air Co System Designer what has been less than ideal (inconsistencies, humidity, etc), and let them suggest options! Over the years you could see a nice return on your investment.
According to experts, commercial buildings account for almost 20 percent of U.S. energy consumption. With this much expended energy, it’s definitely worthwhile to evaluate if all of it’s being used efficiently and not being wasted. Wasted energy means wasted money. That’s something businesses cannot afford to do. Call AA-Air Co at 865-689-5290 today to schedule an appointment for one of our highly qualified system designers to visit your business and help you save money.