A comfortable working environment can often come at a cost!
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are among the most energy-intensive components of any business. In fact, heating and cooling can account for about 30% of energy use in commercial and office buildings, this can quickly rack up an impressive electricity bill.
Improving a system's efficiency can reduce peak energy demand as well as costs to your business, benefitting you in the long-term. Even just minor temperature adjustments can result in substantial energy savings, without reducing the environment comforts.
Consider taking these steps to improve environmental sustainability while also reducing the strain on your wallet by developing an effective HVAC solution.
1 - Adjust your temperature
We’re often asked “what is the optimal temperature for my environment?”, and while this is dependent on how your occupants feel, we recommend keeping it as high as you feel comfortable with. You can save as much as 10% a year simply by changing a couple of degrees. We recommend setting your air conditioner’s thermostat between 24-27℃, and every degree higher may help reduce your running costs further.
2 - Use blinds, curtains and shades
If your room is behaving like a greenhouse and trapping the sun’s heat, your air conditioning unit will have to work much harder. Install blinds or awnings, try to use light-coloured ones, to block out the sun, keep the room cool and reduce pressure on the AC.
During cooler months, window coverings also work to reduce energy loss, further lowering heating bills while improving comfort levels. According to the Department of Energy, about 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows and, in summer, just by employing smarter management of window coverings you can decrease heat gain by up to 77%.
3 - Install Solar
An air conditioning system is one of the largest consumers of energy in commercial and office buildings, solar energy is a powerful way to produce renewable energy to keep your AC running. In return, solar will lower your business’ energy bill costs. Although a considerable financial investment, solar power will benefit you in the long-run by providing electricity at a fraction of the cost.
4 - Turn off the AC, or use programmable thermostats
Yes, it may sound obvious but many businesses get in the habit of leaving the air conditioning on, especially overnight. Remind your building occupants to be considerate when using the AC. When not using certain rooms or if the office is closed, make sure the AC is switched off.
Better yet, utilise smart technology to significantly reduce your energy usage and costs. Smart thermostats allow you to set schedules or triggers for your air conditioner, once your room has met the desired temperature the unit will switch off.
Especially in the warmer months, people will often crank the AC to the minimum possible temperature and leave it running all-day. You can also set up a schedule so that your unit is timed to switch off outside of business hours, saving you hundreds of dollars a year.
5 - Regular maintenance and cleaning
Just like your car, your air conditioning system also needs a regular tune-up in order to perform at its best. Fewer than half of businesses perform preventative maintenance on their air conditioning systems. Yet studies show that establishing a regular maintenance plan can reduce energy costs by up to 40% while also extending equipment lifetime, Make sure to work with an experienced technician who can ensure your system is not wasting energy due to reduced efficiency, ageing or system faults.
In addition to organising a HVAC service, the unit’s filters should be checked on a monthly basis and thoroughly cleaned or replaced by a qualified technician. Dirty filters overwork your system by restricting airflow, this means increased costs as well as poorer air quality, resulting in unhappy and unproductive occupants. Replacing dirty filters is one of the simplest steps you can take, reducing energy usage by 5-10%.
6 - Upgrade your system
If you’re looking to make a big change to your energy consumption and related costs, consider replacing your old, overworked air conditioning unit with a newer model. Running systems past their suggested lifespans (which is often around the 10 year mark) results in exorbitant energy wastage.
Replacing your AC with a more sustainable unit can reduce energy costs by up to 20%, saving you thousands over its lifespan.
Alternatively, consider retrofitting existing rooftop units with advanced digital economiser controls and/or sensors, these will automatically adjust the ventilation rate in response to condition changes such as occupant numbers or indoor pollutant levels. The more responsive your unit is to its environment, the more you save.
A range of government grants and programs are available to assist your business with funding energy efficiency projects, including HVAC system upgrades.
Designed to support the transition to a low carbon economy, seek out advice from your industry association for state and sector-specific information.