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Building management

Optimize your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)

Get the most from your HVAC system while minimizing its carbon footprint.
Illustration of an HVAC unit

What is an HVAC system?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, which are responsible for the majority of energy use in most commercial buildings. They play a major role in keeping a building comfortable, healthy and productive. Ensuring your building’s HVAC system is running at its best can be a complex task, but the rewards are well worth the investment.

The benefits of optimizing your HVAC system

Whether electric or combustion-based, HVAC systems’ substantial energy use makes them one of the biggest contributors to your building’s carbon footprint. Taking proper care of your system keeps it running longer, so you can save money and avoid the emissions associated with replacing it with a new one.

Roadmap to HVAC optimization

Prevent issues before they occur

HVAC systems work continuously almost all year long, which exposes them to potential malfunction or breakdown. Scheduling regular maintenance at least once a year is a good way to prevent issues, or at least reduce their frequency and complexity. Also, keep an eye out for leaks or visual signs of wear and listen for any unusual noises coming from your system.

Modern HVAC systems are highly complex and calling on an HVAC specialist is often the best way to manage a system effectively. Still, there are some general things you can do without an expert:

  • Change air filters regularly
  • Improve your building’s insulation
  • Keep indoor vents clear and make sure nothing is blocking the vents (like pieces of furniture)
  • Clean around the condenser unit (keep the surroundings free of debris, bushes, etc.)

Monitor performance and address gaps

Keep an eye on your utility bills or install sensors or smart thermostats to monitor the energy use of various system components. Spikes or other significant changes in energy use should be investigated and addressed as soon as possible. For example, if your monitoring shows a surge in energy use overnight, check your settings to make sure you’re not running the system unnecessarily when no one’s in the building. On top of that, behaviour changes such as lowering the heat by 1 degree Celsius in winter can reduce your heating costs.

Replace your system (if you must)

If you find yourself calling in repair technicians too often, or you just can’t get the performance you’re looking for from your system, it might be time to consider a replacement.

Choosing an energy efficient option can result in a higher cost upfront but can be offset many times over by the lower cost of operating it over the long term.

Look around for the most energy efficient solution that suits your needs. For example, a heat pump is an efficient electrical device that moves heat around your home and can be used in both summer and winter.

When buying new equipment, look for an ENERGY STAR® certified product to make sure you’ll reduce your energy bills as much as possible.

Besides choosing an energy efficient system, ask your HVAC technician about the type of gas used to run the compressor. Some gases contribute more to climate change than others and will therefore increase your GHG emissions.

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