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    Two Ways to Save Your Facility Money

    By Russell Cross, Commercial Service & Controls Field Manager at Energy Air, Inc.

    Are you seeing budget cuts so deep at your facility that you have a box under your desk with most of your personal belongings already in it? If you are responsible for energy costs at your facility, there are a few things you can do to minimize costs.

    Maintenance and scheduling are two of the top ways to reduce energy costs.

    How often are your air handling equipment filters getting changed and fan belts getting replaced and tightened? A dirty filter or a loose belt means less air movement and longer run times for the equipment, thus equating to higher energy costs. A dirty outdoor coil means higher head pressures, less effective heat transfer, higher amperages and life off the compressor due to high heat. 

    How often are the bearings getting greased? Is the interval based on the run time at the accurate RPM or is it just every six months? The difference can be costly.

    On your cooling towers, are the chemicals being maintained correctly to avoid scaling of the heat exchangers causing a low heat transfer rate, added run times and additional power consumption- not to mention costly tube cleaning and Eddy/Current tests?

    On your boilers, when was the last time you verified your gas pressure, water level and safeties? Does your air handling equipment have the right condensate trap depth or is it flowing unconditioned outside air into the air handler, diminishing the effective capacity of the system and contaminating the base of the unit from an overflowing condensate?

    Contactors and relays don’t last forever, and it is less expensive to change them on a routine, planned maintenance basis when they first start losing their effectiveness than on an emergency service call.  

    Is your HVAC control system allowing your night set-back temperatures to go too high causing the equipment to run into peak energy hours of the day and never satisfying?

    Are the time clock and scheduling function of your control system up to date and working to achieve energy efficiency and load shedding? A time clock being off just an hour can cost unnecessary money. If the power goes out and comes back on, does all your HVAC equipment kick on at the same time causing a power spike and the power meter to take off with your bonus check? A properly maintained HVAC control system can avoid this.

    Is your equipment bringing in too much outside air or is it maintaining the proper outside air based off of a CO2 sensor modulating the outside air only when necessary and controlling your building pressure through variable exhaust rates to maintain a positively pressurized building? Even if your HVAC system is not that complex, simple steps can be taken to avoid a negatively pressurized building without overdoing the outside air. Too much outside air equals less efficient equipment since much of the capacity goes to treating the outside air and not dropping the set point in the space.

    If you are serious about saving money at your facility (and getting your bonus check), don’t short change yourself by skipping the routine maintenance thinking that it will be less expensive to fix it when it breaks than to maintain it. Have a professional maintain your HVAC equipment, and don’t forget the importance of maintaining the control system. An HVAC system with controls out of tune is like a car with an out-of-tune driver- you know it’s headed in a bad direction and it’s going to cost a lot of money.

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