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Commercial HVAC

HVAC System Maintenance Just Got a Whole Lot Greener.

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Last Updated on June 25, 2015


If you own a business in New York City, you probably sometimes wonder how your business contributes to the brown haze hanging over the city. You certainly can’t help noticing how much energy you’re using and how much it’s costing you every month.

Did you know that up to half of that energy is being consumed by your HVAC system? According to reports by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Energy Information Administration, commercial HVAC systems account for between 40 and 50 percent of fuel consumption.

What if we told you that new HVAC technology could not only save you some green in the form of lower energy bills, but also help you run a greener business that’s friendlier to the planet? With all the attention on climate change and greenhouse gases, manufacturers of HVAC equipment are monitoring worldwide emissions regulations and getting ahead of the curve with new innovations. Today’s HVAC equipment includes compressors that consume far less energy and are designed to use more earth-friendly refrigerants. Larger facilities can even implement monitoring software that detects leaks of toxic refrigerant gases that contribute to global warming.

New compressors

Compressors are the biggest energy hogs in your HVAC system, accounting for up to 60 percent of usage. Because the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has mandated increases in HVAC equipment efficiency, it only makes sense that compressors have been the focus of most new technology development. The latest compressors have been designed to work with newer, more efficient refrigerants and use smaller amounts of them. Some are even designed with fewer joints to minimize refrigerant leaks and make leak detection easier.

Scroll compressors, used in air conditioning units, are designed to use more efficient refrigerants, including R-410A described below. The design makes these units more environmentally friendly, more energy efficient, and even more reliable. They can maintain precise temperatures and lower relative humidity while using less fuel. They have fewer moving parts to cause breakdowns, take up less space, and even boast quieter operation.

Semi-hermatic compressors, used in refrigeration equipment, use less energy and increase the lifespan of the equipment because the compressor runs at precisely the load required to cool the unit at any given time. There is much less wasted energy. Some systems even include on-board diagnostics that can detect problems and shut down the system to prevent compressor failure.

New refrigerant technology

In the wake of the ban on chlorine-based refrigerant (also known as Freon), newer refrigerants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been developed that are safer for the ozone layer.

One of the most promising new refrigerants is R-410A, also known by brand names Puron®, Suva® 9100, or Genetron® AZ-20.® This HFC refrigerant can be used for light and even large commercial air conditioning, but can only be used in new equipment designed to handle higher pressure conditions. R-410A offers high energy efficiency and allows your air conditioning unit to run at a lower temperature, which reduces the load on the compressor and reduces the risk of burn-out. It’s cost effective because it requires a lower refrigerant charge, which is the amount of refrigerant your system needs to cool effectively.

Automated software for refrigeration leak detection

Did you know that EPA regulations hold you responsible for repair of any substantial refrigeration leaks, even if you didn’t know you had a leak? You also are required to have your systems regularly checked, and keep accurate records of service performed and any refrigerant charge added. Violations can cost you as much as $37,500 per day!

Building automation systems now have refrigeration leak detection functions that monitor your air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Leaks are automatically detected and reported, so you can immediately attend to them. These software systems also make it easy to keep accurate records that keep you in compliance with regulations. To learn more, go to Complying With the Section 608 Refrigerant Recycling Rule.

Do you want a greener future?

To explore these and other new technologies that can save your business money while also saving the planet, be sure you partner with a company who makes the environment (and your energy bills) a priority. If you’re unsatisfied with your current HVAC company’s approach and are consider transitioning to a new service provider, make life a little easier and grab a copy of our free guide to Contract Confidence: Transitioning to a New HVAC Service Provider.
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