Summer is here, and that means one thing: air conditioning. For facility managers, that means a whole new world of potential energy efficiency issues. HVAC systems in general and air conditioning in particular can contribute to a huge drain on your facility's energy efficiency management, and if not carefully regulated can add up to come costly energy expenditures. Make sure that as the weather continues to heat up this summer you take steps to keep your AC's energy expenditures under control, and you'll keep your maintenance staff and your accountant happy.
Taking stock of the situation
A building's HVAC system is extensive, but fortunately not all components deteriorate at the same rate. A thorough assessment of your facility's AC equipment will give you a better idea of what, if anything, needs replacing or maintenance. Clean Technica recommended looking at your chiller's output as measured by kilowatt per ton, or kW/ton as the most effective way of determining your current system's efficiency. The lower the number, the more cleanly and efficiently your AC is running.
Choosing the right equipment
In the event that you determine your current system isn't up to your energy efficiency standards, you may make the decision to replace it for a newer, more efficient one. This decision should be carefully researched to ensure you strike the best balance between budget and efficiency. In general, you should stick to chillers that have been certified by the Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Institute. ARI certification is useful as a buyer's guide, as it grants not only peace of mind but also sets the stage for what the realistic expectations of the system actually will be in a practical sense. More importantly, it provides a consistent standard against which all potential chillers can be evaluated on equal terms, further assisting your decision process.
Keeping on top of maintenance
Regardless of which system you choose to install, keeping up with scheduled maintenance will be an essential part of preserving the most efficient performance. According to FacilitiesNet, the most common culprit when it comes to efficiency-draining is a refrigerant leak - older chillers may experience this phenomenon at a rate of up to 15 percent per year, while newer systems are generally designed to keep refrigerant loss at around 0.1 percent per year.
One way of keeping on top of this issue is by closely monitoring refrigerant use as part of regular building maintenance. Constant tracking of the amount of refrigerant being used by each piece of equipment can help you identify leaks before they become problematic, and software such as FacilityDude's InventoryEdge can help you effectively keep track of everything you need to stay efficient.