One of the most crucial aspects of efficient management is providing an environment that is comforting to employees and customers. This can be achieved by redecorating, good organization, and of course, controlling the indoor climate. But there are certain practices commonly practiced that are not only ineffective, but costly and even damaging to your equipment.
As soothing as it is to come from a hot summer sidewalk into a building and feel that cool rushing breeze, the experience comes at an enormous cost to businesses. Grocery stores, for example, spend about an average of one percent on energy in their total costs – which is roughly the same as their usual profit margin. Although much of this energy is necessary on the cost of food refrigeration and lighting, a significant portion of this energy is wasted by directing it right outside the front doors.
Many businesses practice this, though usually large chains consider such expenditures insignificant. Not only is this wasteful, but running vents or fans directly outside the door forces out the cool air that the air conditioner generates. This causes it to run harder and longer than it needs to, and that kind of strain is damaging to cooling systems.
Rather than send that energy cost out the door, look for ways to insulate the coolness you already have. Seal all of your windows and doors with weatherstripping on movable parts and caulk on stationary areas. Make sure to seal any gaps on the walls or flooring with caulk, and make it a priority of your staff to leave outside exits closed whenever possible. By properly sealing in the cool air, you can help employees and customers stay comfortable without any unnecessary cost to your budget. You might even be able to forego air conditioning altogether now and then.
It's a common superstition that leaving an air conditioning running at all times, even during closing hours, is beneficial to energy costs. This is hugely untrue, and based on incorrect assumptions about how air conditioners work. Some people believe that air conditioners spend most of their energy starting, since they have to cool faster to achieve the desired temperature. Their reasoning is that leaving an air conditioner on will leave the environment at a steadier temperature, which avoids the supposedly costly startup. But the truth is that air conditioners are most efficient just as they're starting. An air conditioner running at full speed doesn't have to constantly fluctuate to adjust to the environment, and it even humidifies the area.
It's the best option to turn off the thermostat when your business is closed. If your business has a consistent schedule, invest in a programmable thermostat and leave it to turn itself off when store hours are through. If your business runs 24/7, or if you have workers throughout the store at all times, try to leave the thermostat a little higher during low traffic times. You'll save about two to three percent on your energy bill for every degree you notch up on your thermostat.
HVAC equipment can be incredible expensive, especially for large commercial purposes. It can be tempting to rely on old or outdated equipment to save the expense of maintenance or replacement. But HVAC equipment isn't the kind that likes being pushed aside; it will take a vice grip on your energy bill if you don't make sure it stays clean and intact. By not keeping tabs on the quality of your system, you might risk malfunction or complete system failure – which might become a disaster during peak hours.
Depending on how old the area your business is based in, and what it is your business does, your building might be equipped with an HVAC system that doesn't meet your needs at all. It's also likely that your system is simply old and needs replacing, especially if you're seeing inexplicable rises in your energy bill or your system is showing symptoms of wear (such as loud noises or excessive condensation). Know what to look for when replacing or upgrading your HVAC system. Get the opinion of several specialists to get a feel of what you'll need for your business place. Take special care to note if your equipment is Energy Star approved; products with this distinction will save you a fortune in energy savings over the years of its use. And finally, remember to schedule regular maintenance inspections so that you can keep your equipment effective and energy efficient.
Following the dos and avoiding the don'ts listed here will help you save a substantial amount on your businesses' energy output, meaning more savings for you and less pollution in the environment.
Jason Wall is a HVAC technician with more than 23 years of experience. When he isn't working or writing tips and tutorials about HVAC systems for industry resources, Jason catches the occasional baseball game and spends time with his kids. He currently writes for Griffith Energy Services.