Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning (HVAC)
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning is typically one of the largest energy expenditures in both commercial and residential spaces. This category consists of furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, and air conditioners, as well as various types of ventilation equipment and fans. It is a very costly portion of your building's annual energy budget, but it is also a very expensive item to replace and needs thoughtful consideration.
What's your first step? A solid energy analysis of your actual HVAC needs. If you are able, we suggest beginning with a building envelope review and upgrade as you may be able to downsize your replacement equipment. It is also likely that over the years you have made upgrades to more efficient lighting, appliances, computers and other plug loads which release less heat in buildings as the energy used by the appliance or light is put to actual work instead of generating wasted heat. An oversized unit "short-cycles" reducing the efficiency achieved. Talk to your HVAC technician about right-sizing or reducing the size of the equipment to be installed based on actual building loads and conditions.
Ready to replace? When shopping for HVAC equipment, consider buying the most efficient model that replaces the outdated unit you currently have installed. This is because the HVAC equipment you purchase will likely be installed for a decade, if not much longer. And with the likelihood of rising energy costs, any new unit installed will "lock-in" energy consumption (and the associated costs) for the lifetime of the equipment. You can shop for energy efficient products through ENERGY STAR and through the CEE Directory provided below.
Don't forget! It is important to understand that the HVAC unit efficiency (typically measured in SEER, EER, AFUE, and COP) is only part of the story. The other important piece pertains to how well your distribution system (the pipes or ducts that deliver that desired temperature, for example) is sealed, insulated and controlled. If you are able to address the sealing of leaky ducts and uninsulated pipes, you will greatly improve the overall efficiency of your HVAC system. For example, air that has been heated by a brand new high efficient HVAC unit, which then discharges some of that air into wall cavities and chases, instead of where you need it, costs a lot of extra money each and every year.