Energy Efficiency...
A new look

 

The issue of energy efficiency is still with us despite various initiatives to reduce energy consumption. We’re still using more energy than power stations produce at peak times in the Los Angeles area.

A lot of initiatives have been implemented in the residential area, such as Energy Star and rebates, to entice consumers to buy more efficient appliances.

 
Energy Star
  Leaky Duct

The commercial arena is obviously one of the most fruitful areas to reduce massive amounts of energy. However this is moving slowly due to some valid issues. In the commercial HVAC area (Machado’s focus) duct sealing is practically non-existent due to the fact that pressurizing large systems is difficult or impossible and thus is not required.

Efficient insulation and windows are problematic because everything has an effect on each other. For instance if you have 15% more heat efficient windows but the ducts leak 40%, does that mean that your windows are only saving you 9%. Who do you blame? You only know that your electric bill hasn’t gone down as much as your window sales rep said it would long after the fact. If correctly installed the windows would work at an improved 15% if the rest of the building components were operating correctly.

 

The same could be true for insulation.

Infa-red imaging is now becoming more available, thus spotting incorrectly installed insulation is becoming easier. (see a movie)

There are so many factors that play on each other. Cooling coils, filters, Freon charge, dirt, blockages, leaky ducts, incorrect layout, carpets and people are just a few of these factors that come to mind.

All of the above factors influence each other and improve each other or degrade each other. What a headache!

 
Infrared
Watch the video!
 
 
Disconnected Duct
 

There is of course a solution to all of the above. Obviously, if each component is correctly installed and is functioning correctly they will complement each other and improve energy efficiency saving you money.

The biggest point here is education and looking.

  • Do the registers point to the heat source in the room?
  • Is the flex duct squashed anywhere?
  • Are the ducts leaking?
  • Are the filters blocked?
  • Has the installation been fitted to the manufacturer’s specifications?
  • Is someone leave the doors open and letting all the cold air out?
(OK, there are a LOT more questions that need to be asked and checked for.)
 

The next question is, how am I doing (in dollars improved) and what should I focus on next?

This is a good problem to solve. Normally you have to wait a month for the electric bill. The outside temperatures vary massively from month to month (affecting usage) and the performance of other building equipment is all lumped in the electric bill, so it’s difficult to isolate one component.

There are systems out there that will tell you everything you need to know, but they’re so expensive that the return on investment is hardly worth it. Still, they are getting cheaper. Again, getting educated on each component and the technology of how to make each component energy efficient is something we can all improve upon. This could include building insulation, roofs, doors, windows, lights, electrical devices and mainly HVAC systems.

 
Squashed Duct