Essential Cost-Saving Mechanical Maintenance Tips

Energy waste is a serious issue, and it’s costing your facility money. The United States Department of Energy estimates that the average commercial building wastes an astounding 30% of the energy it consumes. While this may be surprising, it creates a great opportunity for you to save funds going into the new year. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of essential mechanical maintenance tips designed to help you cut down on repair costs and keep your business running efficiently. You never know where you may be losing dollars through energy loss.

Did you know that the average commercial building wastes 30% of the energy it consumes? Click To Tweet

Repair or Replace Poor Insulation

When insulation is effective, it does a great job of reducing costs by keeping your building’s interior cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Unfortunately, insulation loses its effectiveness over time due to damage such as cracking and condensation build-up. A lack of proper insulation could lead to a more than 30% loss of consumed energy, which makes a routine inspection vital.

Seal Ductwork

In a typical residential house, about 20-30% of the air moving through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts. This amount of energy loss is substantial considering how much larger commercial buildings are compared to a typical residential home.

Professional duct maintenance is what ensures your air gets where it needs to go, without a loss. With less conditioned air escaping through the cracks, you’re only paying to heat the rooms that matter, instead of your attic, crawl space or the voids in walls. A scheduled checkup keeps air flowing accurately, as well as keeping monthly heating and cooling bills low.

Water Treatment

A part of ensuring your boiler or chiller runs properly throughout the course of its lifetime is treating the water that circulates within the system. When the water within your system is not treated properly and regularly, problems occur and the useful life of the equipment is diminished significantly. Even hydronic systems require regular water treatment.

Untreated water can contain dissolved solids and gases. Dissolved solids form scale buildup on heat transfer surfaces as water is heated. Did you know a scale thickness of 1/32” can cost more than $10,000 in additional operating costs each year? Dissolved gases can cause corrosion, cavitation and poor efficiency.  Keep your system running smoothly for the long haul with the addition of a routine water treatment schedule.

Request an Energy Study of Your HVAC

The average Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of HVAC units installed in the 1990’s range from a SEER of 6-10. Today, a new unit can be purchased with a SEER level consistently above 20. This equates to cutting your electricity usage in half with more efficiency out of your HVAC unit!

Recommission HVAC Systems

The purpose of recommissioning your HVAC system is to ensure the equipment and its systems are running optimally and operating according to your standards. With time, HVAC systems can experience output deficiencies, which can only lead to higher operating costs and the potential for necessary repairs.

Did you know buildings constructed before the 1980s are equipped with HVAC systems that are grossly oversized? This means the system will cycle on and off too often and irregularly. This leads to increased maintenance costs and decreased comfort for the building’s occupants. When you recommission your system, you will have a complete understanding of how your equipment is operating and any issues that need to be resolved.

[Keep costs low and optimize your air compressor with our Analyzing Your Compressed Air System Checklist.]

Fix Compressed Air Leaks

Compressed air is a widely used utility in plants and facilities, but it is also likely the most expensive one. According to the Compressed Air & Gas Institute, depending on pressure requirements and energy costs, a single ¼-inch leak in a compressed air line can cost a facility from $2,500 to more than $8,000 per year. For just one leak, your company could be losing $2,500+ and not even know it. That sheer cost of leaks is why we recommend fixing them as one of our mechanical maintenance tips.

Learn more about preventing and fixing compressed air leaks here.

Reuse Heat from Compressed Air System

A compressed air system itself generates heat as it works. Rerouting this heat to support other operations is a savvy way to save money. The heat can be redirected to produce hot water or provide warm air for various rooms within the facility. Using every bit of produced energy from the compressed air system can reap savings in the end.

More cost-saving tips on compressed air systems.

Maintain the Air Economizer

When the temperature and humidity are just right, an air economizer gives you the ability to cool the building “for free.” HVAC economizers are designed to save energy and give the heating and cooling system a break. These devices have sensors that compare the outdoor temperature to the interior temperature and humidity level for more natural, unconditioned air whenever possible. This leads to the benefits of conditioned air without the cost of waiting for the weather to permit.

Expert Tip: Is your freeze stat tripping too soon? This could be because you’re not getting a good mixture of fresh air and return air. We see a lot of systems where the fresh air comes through the bottom backside of the plenum while the return comes in through the top of the plenum. The warmer air stratifies to the top of the plenum while the fresh stays on the bottom, either tripping the freeze stat too soon or worse yet, freezes your coil. In most cases, we have a very simple and inexpensive solution for you.

Replace Air Filters

You may think to replace the air filter on your car every once in a while, but typically we neglect the air filters of equipment that removes contaminants in our commercial buildings. Initially, this may not seem like a troublesome issue, but a clogged air filter can cause extensive damage to your equipment. The solution? Check your air filters regularly.

Not only does this allow your equipment to operate at efficient levels, but it leaves the air in your building clean and fresh. It’s proven that improved air quality and ventilation increase productivity in employees by 11%. While an increase in employee productivity is a great thing, the savings in operating cost is even more substantial.

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HVAC systems with a dirty or clogged air filter require more energy to run optimally, meaning an increase in operating expenses by around 15%. Not only will you see an increase in the cost of your utility bill, but repairs may be required on a more frequent basis. This equates to tens of thousands of additional dollars you would have to spend throughout the life of the building.

Clean Condenser Fins

Similarly to a dirty or clogged air filter, condenser fins need to be cleaned regularly and often. These fins get dirty from the central fan drawing air and subsequently pulling dust, leaves, and cotton. These types of debris block airflow and reduce the equipment’s ability to operate efficiently.

A heavy buildup of debris can also occasionally damage condenser fins, leading to costly repairs of your units. While crushed condenser fins can occur for various reasons, such as hail, the best way to prevent substantial repair costs is to establish a routine maintenance schedule. This ensures the long and healthy life of your equipment, while also reducing operating and repair costs.

Programmable Thermostats

Adding a programmable thermostat to your HVAC unit is one of the greatest things you can do to reduce your energy consumption and, therefore, save on heating and cooling costs. These devices allow you to adjust the temperature precisely to your exact desired level of comfort.

While the temperature level adjustments are great for comfort, there are two cost-saving advantages behind this system. First, programmable thermostats allow for a constant temperature in your building. This reduces costs dramatically since your equipment won’t need to run at maximum capacity to heat or cool a space. In addition, programmable thermostats allow you to cut costs by setting temperatures back during non-occupancy hours.  Really boost the savings by lowering the boiler setpoint during these non-occupancy hours.

Need an Extra Hand?

Commercial and industrial buildings together currently account for half of annual U.S. energy consumption. Saving precious energy through these mechanical maintenance tips can save thousands year after year. While implementing each of these tips individually may be a great way to increase efficiency, the greatest thing to do is create a structured system designed to inspect all of these components regularly.

If you’re not sure where to start or you’d like help creating a strategy, contact us today! Our trained team of technicians can assess your equipment and perform maintenance fixes for your facility. Implement change today with Rasmussen Mechanical Services.