The Hidden Costs of Summer

The Hidden Costs of Summer

You've had your air conditioning system cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional. So now you're ready for a long summer of lower utility costs and a more comfortable indoor environment, right? Well, maybe not. The truth is there may be a number of undetected issues or problems in your facility that can continue to put the heat on your energy bills.

Building controls out of control. Thermostats, sensors and other building controls are designed to save energy while maintaining a comfortable, productive indoor environment. Without seasonal adjustments, however, neglected controls can end up wasting energy. Align indoor and outdoor building sensors. Calibrate room and duct thermostats and humidistats, as well as pressure and temperature sensors in accordance with design specifications. Inspect damper and valve controls to ensure that they're functioning properly.

What's cooking in your kitchen? Facilities with kitchen operations often leave hood ventilation units running at full speed, even during idle times. Not only does this waste energy, but it sucks air out of the building, requiring the HVAC system to work harder at supplying and cooling makeup air. Demand control hood ventilation can save energy by adjusting ventilation fan speed according to need and reducing the need for makeup air.

Taking a byte of your energy budget. Server rooms always require cooling, but summer temperatures can really increase the load. In addition, overheated servers may shut down, leading to costly downtime or repairs. There are a number of actions you can take to save energy and money:

  • Retire idle equipment. Eliminate or consolidate unnecessary devices; this will reduce excess heat and lower temperatures.
  • Manage airflow. Position servers in rows facing each other in a hot aisle/cold aisle arrangement. This improves airflow and cuts down on the need for cooling.
  • Distribute servers. If you have extra room, distribute servers evenly throughout the space. This will reduce the potential for overheating.

Are your ducts all in a row? Ductwork typically remains hidden behind walls and ceilings, but leaky ducts can show up on your summer energy bills through higher cooling costs. Inspect accessible ductwork for leaks and seal with mastic tape. Use aerosol-based technology to seal your entire duct system and avoid time-consuming manual sealing, and increase system efficiency by insulating accessible ductwork to prevent conditioned air from escaping.

The steam system trap. Failed steam traps and system leaks get more attention during winter, but for facilities that use steam for humidification, processing and other applications; a leaky system may be costing you all summer long. Establish a program for regular systematic inspection, testing and repair of steam traps, pipes and other system components.

Hoping to find more ways to cut your energy costs this summer and all year long? See Your Facility: Walking the Energy Walk for guidance on how to spot energy-saving opportunities.

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