HVAC energy savings tips from Thermodial service engineers, covering commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
With energy bills at unprecedented levels, energy savings tips for domestic properties are also included.
1. Monday HVAC energy saving tips
Review setpoint temperatures (commercial)
Heating accounts for 45% of energy use in a commercial building – more than 60% in a dwelling – making it the single biggest indoor energy consumer. With room thermostats controlling the heating, lowering the temperature setpoint – the target your heating is set to reach – by one degree could save up to 10% on your heating energy bill. At the same time, it is advisable to keep the temperature at a comfortable level, i.e. at least 20°C.
Temperature setpoint guidelines, as per Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers (CIBSE):
- student accommodation 22°C
- office 21°C
- corridors and circulation spaces 18°C
- sporting facilities 16°C
(tip: Ger Carter)
Ensure radiators can operate to full efficiency and are not blocked or improperly encased by a cover, thus wasting energy. Anything that blocks the airflow of a radiator can reduce its operating efficiency, as it works harder (uses more energy) to achieve desired temperatures.
Check that radiators are operating efficiently by bleeding them – releasing trapped air – if there are cold spots present. Also, fit thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to protect the room – from mould – and heating system – from freezing – in very cold weather.
Finally, radiators that are 15 plus years old will be inefficient in comparison to their modern equivalents, who use less water. Older radiators are more likely to suffer corrosion, causing a sludge to form internally, resulting in cold or lukewarm radiators. This means your heating system has to work harder, increasing your energy spend.
(tip: Stephen Kavanagh)
2. Tuesday HVAC energy saving tips
LED lighting (commercial)
Lighting is the second biggest consumer of energy in a commercial building – accounting for anywhere between 20 and 40 plus percent of your bill. Meaning the installation of LED lights are a no-brainer.
Not only do LED lights last longer than their incandescent or halogen equivalents, but they use much less energy than conventional bulbs.
A recent Thermodial head office LED lighting refurbishment showed 53% energy saving. The cost to run each light decreased from € 15 to € 7 each year. Thermodial replaced incandescent tubes with LED light panels across a three-storey office building.
Also, further savings can be made by installing lighting occupancy or passive infrared (PIR) sensors in transient spaces, i.e. in rooms or spaces not continually occupied, such as, kitchens, hallways, staircases and storage rooms.
It is worth noting that all LED lights are not created equal. If you are planning a lighting refurbishment, aim for the Office of Public Works (OPW) specification of 50,000 hours’ lifetime. Standard incandescent bulbs have a lifespan of 2,000 to 3,000 hours – over 15 times less than the OPW’s LED lights.
In addition to energy savings, the outlay cost for a lighting replacement project can be grant aided through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
(tip: Karl O’Reilly)
Set calendar reminder (domestic)
When did you last switch energy provider? Set a calendar reminder, 11 months on and shop around for the best rates available in a gas/electricity supplier. Availing of a discounted rate as a new customer can save € 383 on an average household bill per year.
Use switcher.ie or bonkers.ie to compare supplier rates.
(tip: Turlough Kinane)
3. Wednesday HVAC energy saving tips
Lag and insulate pipework (commercial)
Walk into your plantroom/boiler house. Do you see any bare pipes? If so, you are losing heat and spending more than you should in producing heat/hot water.
As hot water travels through a building, it naturally loses heat. Pipe lagging can help reduce heat loss and ensuring water stays warmer for longer by insulating pipes.
It is important to check exposed outdoor pipework coming into the winter. Birds can often peck away and damage insulation, which is only noticed when there is a loss of water. Lagging external pipework can help mitigate burst pipes in freezing conditions by insulating and protecting the water supply within.
The more pipework you have, the greater the savings can be achieved from lagging.
(tip: Rob Taaffe)
Energy fines (domestic)
Want to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone is watchful of unnecessary energy spend?
Introduce a fining system for lights left on in unoccupied rooms; appliances left in standby mode and items left plugged in when not in use.
Before beginning, choose what to do with the fines kitty. Some considerations could be, donate to charity or put it towards a house treat like a takeaway or a day out.
(tip: Turlough Kinane)
4. Thursday HVAC energy saving tips
Adjust gradually (commercial)
Air conditioning units are used all year round – for cooling in summer and heating in winter.
A common energy error is to operate either function on full blast, i.e. aiming to increase or decrease the temperature by large amounts
Operating units in this way makes the compressor and fan motor work harder. Anything that makes the unit work harder is more intensive on energy spend. Instead, increase or decrease temperatures gradually.
Example: if a room is at 15°C and you require heating to bring the room temperature up to 21°C, increase the temperature steadily until the target has been reached, or when the room feels comfortable. The reverse for cooling.
(tip: Gavin O’Brien)
Heated clothes airer (domestic)
An electric clothes airer can cost less than a quarter of the price of running a standard tumble dryer.
With outdoor drying of clothes troublesome during the winter, a heated clothes airer can prove a sound investment.
When drying clothes indoors, however, you’ll need to take the added moisture from the room. As you are less likely to open windows during the winter, a dehumidifier is a sound option. A non-electric dehumidifier is a good option, as it costs one third the price of the electric version.
Factoring in the cost of the non-electric dehumidifier – plus the heated clothes airer – it is still less than half the price in energy of a standard tumble dryer per washing load.
Please note a standard tumble dryer refers to common vented or condenser models and not newer heat pump tumble dryers, which can cost less than half to run in comparison, due to heat recovery (air re-use).
5. Friday HVAC energy saving tips
Service all HVAC equipment on schedule (commercial)
In addition to the energy saving gained from servicing equipment, a good engineer will also be watchful for other sights and sounds around the plantroom. This can be pumps that are running over current or three port valves sticking.
Running equipment to failure not only wastes energy, but it also risks downtime.
(tip: Damien Daly)
Boiler service (domestic)
Carry out annual boiler servicing to save at least 5% on heating costs during the year.
Boiler servicing involves, cleaning, checking, analysing and fixing anything outside of acceptable parameters. It also involves advice on energy efficient operation.
(tip: Dylan Maher)
6. Bonus HVAC energy saving tip
Energy audit (commercial)
Carry out a professional energy audit with the help of a grant from the Support Scheme for Energy Audits (SSEA).
The audit will answer three simple question for you:
- Understand how much energy your business uses.
- Understand the equipment and processes that use the most energy.
- What actions you should take to save energy, and their estimated cost and impact.