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HVAC Systems and Optimisation for Businesses

Effective climate control is essential for maintaining comfort in any indoor environment. This guide explores how commercial HVAC systems work, and how to optimise them for increased efficiency.

What is a Commercial HVAC System and How Do They Work?

HVAC—short for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning—is the integrated system that manages and adjusts a building’s indoor climate. Much like residential systems, commercial HVAC systems help to maintain a comfortable indoor environment in commercial properties, such as offices, shops and cafes.

To do this, HVAC systems are made up of multiple elements, such as heaters, air conditioners, ventilation setups, and ducts.

Heating

is typically achieved through using boilers, furnaces or heat pumps.

Cooling

a building usually involves a process called refrigeration, wherein heat is extracted from the air indoors.

Ventilation

systems move fresh outdoor air indoors and filter it, while also expelling contaminated indoor air.

What is HVAC Optimisation?

HVAC optimisation is when an existing HVAC system is calibrated for peak performance. 

Many commercial buildings have HVAC systems that are not running as efficiently as they could be. This could be due to a wide variety of reasons, from incorrectly sized systems and poor insulation, to outdated equipment. 

As such, HVAC optimisation takes a variety of forms, and methods can range from sealing air leaks and adding insulation, to installing smart thermometers, sensors and building management systems (BMS).

What are the Benefits of Commercial HVAC Optimisation?

One of the main benefits of HVAC optimisation in commercial buildings is that it allows property owners to reduce energy wastage and save on costs, without having to necessarily replace major equipment. 

HVAC optimisation offers a host of other benefits as well, which we’ll detail below.

Improving Energy Efficiency and Occupant Comfort

As previously mentioned, optimising HVAC systems is a highly effective way to reduce energy consumption and operating costs.

For example, many buildings currently try to maintain a target temperature by alternating their heating and cooling systems. An office building with a target temperature of 20 degrees Celsius may start by turning on their air conditioning to reach this target. However, the system is likely to overshoot the target, meaning the heating system will turn on to raise the temperature back up—which will also likely result in an overshoot. 

This overshoot cycle results in temperature fluctuations within the building. This not only wastes energy, but can also cause significant occupant discomfort as temperatures remain uneven throughout the day. 

In this case, technologies such as variable speed motors and BMS software can help heating and cooling systems maintain a consistent temperature without overshooting. Moreover, zoning, smart thermostats and sensors can minimise energy waste by only heating and cooling areas which are in use.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

Commercial buildings often face challenges with airborne pollutants such as dust, mould, and volatile organic compounds. Improving your HVAC system to  filter out these contaminants can help promote a healthier indoor environment and reduce the risk of respiratory issues. More effective humidity regulation can also prevent issues such as mould growth and discomfort from dry air.

What Kind of Maintenance do Commercial HVAC Systems Require?

Maintaining a commercial HVAC system is essential to prolonging its lifespan and ensuring that it continues to operate as efficiently as possible. Making sure that your HVAC system is properly serviced can result in the following benefits:

Cost Reduction

An efficient, well-maintained HVAC system uses less energy and thus costs less to run. high costs associated with overworked equipment.

Extending Equipment Lifespan

Preventive maintenance is important to reducing wear and tear on the system. Without it, typical issues such as clogged filters or malfunctioning parts force the system to work harder, which can cut its operational life.

Improving Air Quality

Indoor air quality can deteriorate when HVAC systems are neglected. Dust and allergens can accumulate in filters, coils, and ducts, affecting the air you breathe. Regular cleaning can prevent issues that affect both comfort and health.

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FAQs

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What’s the difference between residential and commercial HVAC systems?

Residential and commercial HVAC systems differ in their design and function. Residential units are smaller, simpler, and typically placed around a home, while commercial systems are larger, more complex, and often installed on building roofs to save space and minimise noise. Commercial HVACs are modular, allowing for easier maintenance and upgrades, and require specialised equipment to handle larger spaces and more diverse environmental conditions.

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