30 energy saving tips for air conditioning systems

John Herbert energyLAB, energy consultant, energy accountant, accumulation of dust and dirt is a primary cause of inefficiency

The accumulation of dust and dirt is a primary cause of operational energy inefficiency. Dust and dirt blocks air flow increasing air resistance, and lowers heat exchanger efficiency. Where it accumulates on fan it lowers the fan efficiency. Dust finds its way into motors and bearings causing overheating and premature equipment failure.

Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems in Hong Kong burn through twenty-nine percent (29%) of all the electricity generated in Hong Kong[1] , and account for the largest proportion of energy consumption[1], and therefore cost in the commercial buildings.  Hong Kong’s soon to be released Building Energy Code focuses attention on the design of new buildings and while significant savings can be made when constructing a new building using integrated design and installation of efficient equipment, that does not address the biggest sector, the opportunities within the existing building stock. Here are some tips to help you lower your energy costs:

  1. Adjust the thermostats to suit the location and season
  2. Operate systems only when and where needed
  3. Eliminate re-heat if this is practised
  4. Allow relative humidity to vary naturally
  5. Minimise the amount of make-up and exhaust air (but ensure minimum required air changes)
  6. Minimise the amount of air delivered to a conditioned space
  7. Recover energy where feasible
  8. Maintain and regularly tune equipment
  9. Use passive solar design techniques to heat and cool air-conditioned space
  10. Ensure hot and cold air ducts are well insulated and do not leak
  11. Inspect automatic controls for proper operation
  12. Inspect heating elements, controls, and fans
  13. Consider the use of radiant heaters to ‘spot heat’ work areas in large factories and warehouses
  14. Reduce the use of radiant and electric strip heaters and portable heaters
  15. Regardless of the system employed the control of warehouse and factory systems is crucial in maximising energy efficiency
  16. Ensure thermostats are located to minimise temperature error settings
  17. Ensure heat exchanger fins are not damaged or disfigured
  18. Ensure air conditioning systems are correctly maintained
  19. Minimise air conditioning in unoccupied operations
  20. Clean the duct work
  21. Consider using demand limiting to minimise energy delivery costs
  22. Consider peak load shifting
  23. Seal openings in the building envelope
  24. Isolate large motors from the air conditioning stream
  25. Recalibrate Fan-Coil Unit Control Valves
  26. Clean open cooling tower systems
  27. Run motors at minimum speed to met actual load
  28. Don’t run dehumidifier and air conditioning simultaneously
  29. Check sensor positions, return air ducts, etc. for local influence
  30. Conduct annual audit log kw/TR
[1] 2008 Hong Kong End Use Energy Data

About John A. Herbert, REA, energy consultant, BEAM Pro

John is director of energyLAB energy consultants firm, he has with more than 30 years engineering experience gained across three continents. He is Registered Energy Assessor, a member of HKAEE. Read his blog at http://www.johnherbert.hk
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