Each January, the largest air conditioning show in the world, the AHR Expo in Las Vegas promotes a large number of new products, the majority of them promoting energy efficiency.
It’s generally accepted that you need to spend money to save energy. But what if you could save energy without spending money on new products?
A new study indicates that operating your existing building infrastructure correctly can save energy. According to a study by Chien-Fei Chen, from University of Tennessee,
“Energy use in American residences increased by 24% from 1990 to 2009, even with the development of energy-efficient technologies, according to Chen’s research. Residents’ energy behaviours are responsible for about 30% of the variance in overall heating consumption and 50% in cooling consumption, she reported.”
This research corresponds to anecdotal evidence observed in the field. Building owners often complain about increased energy use even though mechanical efficiencies and envelope construction has improved significantly in the last decade.
Chen adds, “Simply changing residents’ behaviours can create 10% to 20% in energy savings, according to the research.”
What can be done?
On buildings with simpler HVAC systems, such as warehouses and small offices, good building maintenance is essential in minimizing energy use in existing systems.
For example, roof top units have an economizer function that uses outside air for free cooling. However, if that economizer function is not working properly, the building could be unnecessarily wasting energy.
On larger buildings with building management systems (BMS), there is new software called Building Analytics that help automatically analyze energy saving possibilities.
Building Analytics uses your building’s existing controls infrastructure to automatically identify potential energy and maintenance problem areas.
Our past experience has shown that up to 83% of avoidable HVAC energy savings can be identified.
Before spending hundreds of thousands upgrading your building, it might be worthwhile to evaluate how your existing building is being operated and seeing what can be done to optimize the current system.
To learn more about how to optimize your energy savings, contact our Design team today.