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Is Your Cooling System Ready for Summer?

Key Points
  • Ongoing cleaning and maintenance are key to optimizing cooling system efficiency and performance.
  • Wi-Fi enabled thermostats, economizers and circulating fans can reduce cooling system load.
  • Air sealing and proper insulation increase cooling system effectiveness and building comfort.

Summer cooling systemAir conditioning takes a big chunk out of your summer operating budget, accounting for nearly 15 percent of total annual electricity use in a typical commercial building. By taking steps to ensure your cooling system and your facility are operating at peak efficiency, you'll stay cool and realize some hot savings. 

Optimizing system performance

Maintenance, combined with small upgrades, will help to ensure your cooling system is ready to handle the hot, humid days of summer.

  • Maintain your system. Winter can be hard on rooftop air conditioning units and other outdoor system components. Have your air conditioning system cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional before the start of the cooling season. Check air filters monthly and replace if needed.
  • Seal ducts. Leaky duct systems can result in energy losses of 15 to 30 percent, increasing cooling costs and reducing comfort. Test ductwork with fan pressure or flow meters to identify the extent of leakage. Seal accessible ducts with mastic tape. Hire a qualified contractor if you suspect a problem.
  • Install economizers. Economizers bring in outside air to provide free cooling. Connected to the outdoors, an economizer is comprised of a sensor and a damper. When outdoor temperature and humidity levels are right, the damper opens and brings in outside air. Economizers are most effective in moderate climates.

Around your facility

Cooling efficiency doesn't stop at the air vents. There are plenty of things you can do around your facility to save energy this summer.

  • Adjust temperatures. Set building temperatures to accommodate your hours of operation or occupancy schedule. This is the simplest and most cost-effective method for controlling cooling costs. Wi-Fi enabled programmable thermostats automate the process, providing convenience and adding advanced features, such as remote control.
  • Circulate the air. Circulating air fans reduce the need for air conditioning by making people feel cooler. Large ceiling fans are particularly effective in circulating air throughout a space. In some cases, using a ceiling fan allows you to raise the thermostat four degrees with no loss in comfort.
  • Weatherize. Air leaks reduce the effectiveness of your cooling system, costing you money. Check for air leaks around doors and windows and seal with caulking or weatherstripping. Make sure your building is insulated according to levels recommended in ASHRAE 90.1-Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings or your local energy code. 

If your cooling system is more than 15 years old, or in need of repair, consider upgrading to a new, energy-efficient unit. ENERGY STAR® certified commercial cooling equipment is more efficient than standard units while still providing the same level of comfort and performance.

 

Image source: iStock