Major building systems are the biggest users of electricity in any structure. Of these, the top energy consumers are HVAC, lighting, and refrigeration. Every step you can take to make your building systems more efficient helps when it comes to lowering the price of ownership and keeping your business running smoothly.
Over the last few years, commercial compressor manufacturers like Trane and York have worked hard to curb energy use in their compressors. No matter what kind of compressor you choose, from reciprocating to screw and beyond, odds are good a modern model offers substantial energy savings over one from a decade ago.
That can amount to an upwards savings of 30% off the compressor’s energy consumption.
However, that isn’t the whole story. While the selection and proper installation of the right compressor are key, there are other factors that influence energy usage. By taking a holistic view, you could further reduce energy consumption. At the same time, you’ll extend your compressor’s service life.
Reducing Energy Consumption for Your Commercial Compressor
Cutting energy consumption for a commercial compressor can be challenging because there are operational constraints you probably have little control over. It may be possible to turn up an HVAC system a few degrees without any complaints, for example, but a refrigeration system must run at expected levels 24 hours a day.
With that in mind, it’s crucial to look at the complete environment to find ways to cut energy consumption for a commercial compressor. As a key part of your building systems, the compressor influences and is influenced by other major components in the environment, as well as human activity, ambient temperature, and more.
While this might make the situation seem very complex, there are a few simple points to focus on:
1. Keep Your Compressor Well Maintained
As long as the compressor has been selected carefully and installed correctly, compressor maintenance is the major factor that determines how efficient it is. Having a documented compressor maintenance plan in place enables you to identify recurring issues, solve problems faster, and keep compressor spare parts in stock.
These days, most compressors aren’t designed for major field repairs. However, there will always be something you can do. Breaking compressor maintenance down into weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks keeps it manageable. Order compressor spare parts early so you’re never without an o-ring or gasket when you need one!
2. Make Sure Your Thermostat Is Calibrated
The thermostat is the “brain” of the HVAC system. Unexpected behaviors in the HVAC are often explained by a failure of the thermostat. Thermostats rely on sensors that read the ambient temperature, so if these are worn out, they can cause unpredictable performance. That includes lots of cycling on and off, wasting energy.
A poorly calibrated thermostat can overwork your commercial HVAC compressor, which means more significant efficiency losses earlier in life. On its own, that can amount to thousands of dollars wasted. Clean or replace sensors as needed. If you have an electronic thermostat, use its calibration feature periodically to keep it accurate.
3. Use Predictive Maintenance Where Possible
Most modern compressors are designed to interface effectively with building management systems. In fact, some of the latest generation compressors even come with their own built-in hardware and software that will help to diagnose unusual operating conditions before they actually develop into performance problems.
Predictive maintenance not only improves efficiency but maximizes up-time by helping you take action for preventive maintenance before problems are even on the radar. No matter whether the capabilities come directly from the compressor or from a third-party building management suite, they are worthwhile.
To Keep Energy Efficiency High, Don’t Delay on Compressor Replacement
Assuming your compressor is well-matched to the task at hand and there are no major maintenance oversights, age itself is the compressor’s biggest enemy. A commercial compressor should run without issue for about eight to ten years, but that doesn’t mean it will be perfectly efficient until the day it goes out of service.
Fundamentals like cleaning or replacing a compressor’s filters will give you a little boost in efficiency throughout the unit’s lifespan. In the long run, though, wear and tear will begin to affect components that aren’t so easily replaced. Timing your replacement will save you money and protect you from a catastrophic failure.
Replacing a compressor is always a matter of getting as much value from your existing unit as you can without pushing it too far. Always have a plan in mind – and consider a remanufactured commercial compressor. With remanufactured compressors, your existing unit forms the foundation of your new one.
With a remanufactured compressor, you cut the time it takes to get the new unit into service while saving money versus an all-new OEM unit and meeting all your performance and environmental commitments.