Heating mistakes that could increase energy bills in your facility

Heating mistakes that increase energy bills.png

Purpose: To teach facility managers a few tips on reducing energy costs.

Highlights:

  • Why you should utilize HVCL fans.

  • The importance of energy management tools.

  • Considerations for how HVAC and temperature control is being used.


The winter season is here which means you will be cranking up the heat in your facility. Rather than fumble through a period of trial and error figuring out which practices raise your energy bills, avoid these common heating blunders to lower your facility’s energy bills.

Neglecting to install HVLS fans

Fans are just as useful in facilities as they are in homes. High-Volume, Low-Speed fans, sometimes referred to as HVLS, work well in conjunction with a commercial HVAC system. While using HVLS fans, warm air lifting toward the ceiling is pushed back down. In addition, fans help spread heat around your facilities for better overall distribution.

In addition to saving on the cost of heating, HVLS fans are great in the warmer months of the year as well. A quality system will operate alongside your HVAC system, so you don’t have to use two separate systems to accomplish a single goal.

Failing to put energy management tools to good use 

Lowering your facility’s energy bills is about breaking down your heating practices. Energy management tools give you an in-depth look at energy consumption in separate buildings, allowing you to make small, impactful adjustments. Energy management tools can also aid in the following:



 

  • Tracking individual assets

  • Analyzing your energy usage information

  • Working with your current facilities management software

 

Data management tools eliminate guesswork and allow you to see exactly where you’re using and wasting energy.

Not ensuring your HVAC system is working in sync

Are you heating one part of the building while cooling another? If so, your HVAC system is essentially fighting against itself and resulting in unnecessary spending. Your facility’s heating and cooling system should be operating in lockstep across the board.

On a related note, you should focus on the mild temperatures of spring and fall just as much as you do the extremes of summer and winter. In the fall and spring, you may need to switch between heating and cooling your facility on any given day. Working with the exterior temperature saves money and maximizes comfort.



Heating up an empty building

Just like fans cool people and not rooms, the same principle applies to heating your facilities. No one’s going to complain they are too hot or too cold if they aren’t in the building, so the heat should only be operational when people are in the building.  Use the energy management tools mentioned above to see how long it takes to heat up a building. That way, you’ll know exactly what time to turn on the heat so it’s nice and warm as people start coming in.

Not thinking about the heat churned out by equipment

Depending on your facility, running machines and equipment may help you warm the building. As you’re deciding on the ideal temperature setting, think about how much heat machines and equipment put out and if it’s enough to help your HVAC system.

Look into whether it would be a good idea to position HVLS fans above heat-emitting equipment and machines. As long as they don’t interfere with the machine’s performance, you can have fans spread some of that heat around to save on overall energy costs.

Neglecting to involve employees and staff

If the people working in your facility have access to the thermostat, they may be tempted to adjust it to suit their comfort levels. Be sure employees and staff understand not to adjust the temperature or consider restricting access to the thermostat. Otherwise, you may think the changes you are making aren’t doing much good because your energy bills are still the same.

Not using temperature setpoints

Going back to the mild temperatures of fall and spring, take them into consideration if you have temperature setpoints. For instance, you may have a specific temperature of, say, 70 degrees in the winter and 75 degrees in the summer. What about spring and fall when the temperatures aren't as high or low?

Using the same setting for fall as you do in winter is likely to bump up your energy costs more than necessary. Use energy management tools combined with your knowledge of your area’s climate to determine the ideal facility temperature when it’s neither too hot nor too cold outside.

Review the above tips to see which would save the most energy and money in your facility. Just a few minor changes may result in lower costs for facility operations.

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Note to Reader:

NFPA 72 Guidelines on HVLS fans

A new paragraph 21.8 was added to address high volume low speed (HVLS) fans, which are starting to appear more regularly in both new and existing structures. This paragraph verbiage includes the requirement that if there is a fire sprinkler suppression system installed, then the fans must be shut down upon activation of a sprinkler waterflow or pressure switch.

In addition, here is an FM Global report on HVLS fans and its impact on in-rack fire sprinklers.



About the author:

Lisa Davis is the HVAC senior content creator at ABC Cooling, Heating and Plumbing, a professional HVAC service company located in Hayward, CA.