Professional worker inspecting a commercial HVAC system

How to Improve Your Commercial HVAC’s Energy Efficiency


Looking to cut energy costs? Consider making improvements to your HVAC system! Whether swapping air filters or upgrading to a Building Automation System (BAS), you can take significant steps to improve your building’s energy efficiency.

Understanding the Importance of Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems

Among the growing demand for comfortable heating and cooling, new eco-friendly mandates have come into effect. These regulations have placed a huge shift in focus on energy saving—many of the changes requiring a complete inventory overhaul for commercial HVAC systems.

These new regulations aren’t unprecedented. According to the Department of Energy, commercial buildings produce 826 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, accounting for 16% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. Additionally, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. With energy consumption at an all-time high, addressing HVAC (which accounts for almost half of a building’s energy consumption levels) is essential.

How the Industry Is Responding to New Rules and Regulations

Thankfully, the HVAC industry is continuing to keep up with the changing energy mandates, especially regarding decarbonization. In states like New York and California, more HVAC manufacturers are embracing systems that satisfy the minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating for each air conditioner’s cooling output.

A set of new regulatory updates, dubbed SEER2, have increased the average minimum efficiency rating from 13 to 14, but many commercial HVAC manufacturers have created compliant systems that perform well above the minimum requirements at a 20 SEER rating or higher.

Additionally, since air conditioning systems have traditionally been one of the highest electricity consumers in commercial facilities, many building owners have turned toward energy-efficient air-handling equipment like BAS and VFD systems.

Do you need to update or replace your building’s HVAC system? Get everything you need to know about a successful commercial HVAC system design.

Seven Tips for Creating the Most Energy-Efficient HVAC System

Start on the path toward increased energy efficiency with the following tips:

1. Upgrade to a Building Automation System

If you haven’t invested in a building automation system (BAS) yet, now’s the perfect time. Using this system is one of the best ways to take a sustainable approach to HVAC while keeping every system together in one centralized location. So instead of just the foundational heating, cooling, and ventilation components, you also account for other energy-bearing elements like lighting, sustained environments, fire and flood safety, and security.

Property and facility managers, business owners, and other executives are not only drawn to their energy-saving capabilities but also the centralized dashboard that grants control to all systems from a single place.

2. Regularly Change Your Air Filters

To ensure your HVAC system lasts, check your air filters regularly. Filters not only do the standard job of removing pollutants, allergies, and other contaminants, but in commercial buildings (where particles and viruses tend to hang in the air for much longer than usual) the risk of viral infection is much higher.

A clogged air filter also makes it harder for your units to emit warm or cool air as efficiently, forcing it to work harder than usual which results in a much higher energy bill and can shorten the lifespan of your HVAC system.

3. Prioritize Decarbonization

As addressed, the HVAC industry has seen an increased push for decarbonization, especially in states like New York and New Jersey. As part of the nationwide effort to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, there are many opportunities for HVAC manufacturers to phase out old equipment that emits high levels of CO2. The HVAC industry has primarily taken a three-point approach to decarbonization:

  1. Optimization – Creating energy-efficient equipment, like electric heat pumps, improves output. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 introduced a series of rebates to assist with motivating production and installation of heat pumps.
  2. Electrification – Many manufacturers have pushed for the adoption of electric and hybrid HVAC units in commercial businesses.
  3. Zero-Carbon Energy Sources – As we work towards the complete switch to a sustainable energy-powered grid, HVAC manufacturers are embracing zero-carbon energy-sourced equipment wherever possible.

4. Seal All Drafts

Like clogged filters, air leaks in your building can strain your heating and cooling systems and waste energy. The larger the facility, the harder it is to keep air leaks to a minimum. Some tips to get rid of drafts include:

  • Installing air curtains that eliminate the exchange of warm and cold air
  • Adding revolving doors that assist with regulating air pressure within the building
  • Implementing dock shelters that can seal off warehouses and larger facilities
  • Using weather seals to close gaps in doors and seal uneven surfaces

5. Invest in a Variable Frequency Drive

Variable frequency drives (VFDs) are smart devices that can revolutionize your HVAC system. By precisely controlling the motor speed of your pumps, fans, and compressors, it can easily account for the different heating and cooling load fluctuations throughout the year, maximizing your energy savings.

Not only does this technology help reduce your carbon footprint, it also increases the lifespan of your HVAC system by preventing unnecessary wear and tear and reduces the need for unexpected repairs and replacements. Consider investing in a VFD with remote monitoring capabilities so you can seamlessly manage your facility’s HVAC from anywhere.

6. Consider Retrofitting Your System

If your HVAC system is worn down or has been damaged, replacement isn’t always your only option. For example, air economizers that feed off the outside environment and energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems are both common retrofit additions that improve your system and save energy.

By retrofitting your units, you can remain compliant with the developing mandates and save on energy costs through incorporating eco-friendly upgrades.

7. Schedule Routine Maintenance

A well-maintained HVAC system can save you a lot of energy and money in the long run. By keeping your system in top condition with routine maintenance, you’ll get better cooling and heating performance and lower utility bills. Additionally, regular maintenance can extend the life of your HVAC system – saving you from expensive repairs or replacements in the future.

Choose AirLogix for Your Commercial HVAC and Refrigeration Needs

With AirLogix, having a powerful and energy-efficient commercial HVAC system can become a reality. Our team of experts is well-versed in all things commercial HVAC, and we treat every service with the attention it deserves. We always strive to go above and beyond, offering our contracted clients customized plans to meet their specific needs through maintenance agreements, priority service call response times, and reduced labor rates for repairs.

Learn more about our commercial HVAC services and contact us today.

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