How to Tell if Your HVAC System is Wasting Energy

This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about this, nor the second. But seeing as your building’s energy use can represent significant overhead costs, it’s important to keep addressing. If you are concerned your facility’s HVAC system is wasting energy, that is money down the drain. There are many potential causes of energy inefficiency. You can watch for these signs to determine whether your HVAC system is wasting energy and take action to improve it.

Your System & Technology Are Aging

While maintenance can keep your HVAC system running for a long time, every system eventually ages out. As cooling and heating systems age, gradual wear leads to inefficiency. As this inefficiency accumulates, you use more energy to achieve the same effect. In addition, technology has come a long way since the system was installed.

The International Energy Agency says that AC alone accounts for 20% of electricity use in buildings today and that we need to improve that value in the future. We recommend that if you have a system older than 10 years, it’s worth taking a look at optimization.

While regular maintenance helps your HVAC system’s longevity, you will still see a decrease in efficiency over time. That’s typical wear and tear. Replacing an aging system can greatly improve efficiency, reduce waste, and be a good investment for cost savings in the future.

Regular Maintenance Isn’t A Priority

When it comes to cutting overhead costs, HVAC maintenance isn’t something you want to stop doing. Most HVAC systems need an annual tune-up to run effectively. If you aren’t keeping up with regular maintenance, then your system is likely inefficient. Dirt air filters, low refrigerant levels, and ventilation leaks can all drastically increase energy consumption.

An annual tune-up ensures that a system is running as efficiently as possible. It also helps prevent the need for more intensive repairs later on. When you catch problems early, you can deal with them much more easily. In basic terms, spending money saves you money in the long run.

An Increase in Consumption Year-over-Year

Seeing a year-over-year (YOY) dip in efficiency is normal. However, it should be gradual. Unless something breaks suddenly, you aren’t going to notice a major spike. However, you can still compare electricity consumption YOY to determine whether you’re wasting energy or not.

It’s always best to compare electricity consumption for the same month in different years. Ideally, you can compare many years in a row to develop a trend. However, keep in mind that there are many other factors at play. Building use, outside temperature, and more will vary independently.

Ideally, if you see anything more than a 5% decrease YOY, you want to have your system checked out. The technician can see if it is the overall system or if there are individual components that need to be updated.

Your HVAC System is Short Cycling

HVAC systems run in cycles rather than operating continuously. If you notice that your system is going through cycles rapidly (i.e. turning on and off frequently), then something is wrong. The same is true if the system runs non-stop. As the system moves away from optimal cycling, it operates less efficiently.

In many cases, short cycling is an indication of some other problem. Your HVAC system might not be able to keep up with demand because it is damaged. It might also be due to faulty control systems. Or the building is not insulated well. In any case, the result is more wasted energy and costly energy bills.

You might want to consider an energy audit. This typically starts with a walk-through and ends with some suggested changes to help save money in the long run. If you are a new owner of a facility or have had it for a long time, this is something worth investing in.

Consider Implementing Smart Controls

Smart thermostats and control systems can greatly reduce energy consumption in HVAC systems. Different control systems can use different methods ranging from simple scheduling to occupation sensors.

Getting a smart thermostat for your HVAC system can ensure you use energy where it is most useful. You can reduce energy consumption when a building or area isn’t in use. With the right scheduling, you can ensure that the building is brought to a comfortable temperature before anyone arrives.

Another benefit is the ability to access data faster. Having sensors and other technology in place allows for quicker assessment of issues. And if there is anything that saves money, it’s the time between an issue arising and it being fixed.

Stop Wasting Energy with Your HVAC System

If your HVAC system is outdated or not operating as it should, you can reach out to the experts at the Severn Group. We provide a full range of HVAC system design, installation, repair, and maintenance services. Our team can get to the bottom of what’s causing your HVAC inefficiency. Just contact us today to get started.