Air conditioning is a major investment and can cost an organisation even more if it is not used efficiently. There are many ways that a system can be over-used so that energy is not saved, and you may even damage the system by not positioning vents or units correctly, or by not looking after the system. So getting expert advice at the design and installation stage always makes sense, and can save you a lot of money in the short, medium and long term.
In order to maximise airflow and improve the overall cooling performance of the system, there are some very basic and affordable things you can do:
Visual checks: You can check the system for leaks, restrictions in airflow and debris damaging the equipment quite easily. A dirty or clogged up air filter, for example, can add up to 5% more energy demand due to restricted airflow, and of course this reduces the effectiveness of the system. Changing these filters regularly will help to avoid long term problems and this will be done as a basic part of any scheduled maintenance plan.
Outside coils: These can suffer from the same problem as above and can be cleaned with a soft brush or sprayed with a gentle stream of water to release debris or blockages.
Seal the building: In a commercial setting, air conditioning systems are usual installed in offices or retail spaces. It is important to keep these as airtight as possible. Gaps in windows and under doors and bad seals can mean the ambient temperature is harder to control. So getting these fixed gives you a good starting point in promoting controllable conditions. Obviously, maintaining this will involve good discipline in not keeping windows open when the air conditioning system is operating.
Thermostat settings: Using the recommended programme settings is important to prevent the wasteful use of energy, ie. they should be based on occupancy and the time of day, and you should make full use of ‘zones’ where your system allows you to. You should also be prepared for seasonal change and be able to adjust the programmes accordingly.
Locations: Maximising airflow around air condensers is achieved by not obstructing their ability to draw in air, so allow a good two feet of free space around them. Likewise, you should not position them too close to doors that will open regularly, as this will affect the ambient temperature and make the unit overwork when perhaps it doesn’t need to. Where the unit is located should be an area of a room that maintains a constant ambient temperature and is typical of the general conditions of the room.
Scheduled maintenance: It is always recommended to prepare and design a routine maintenance programme with a third party, often the professionals who installed the system and set it up. They will advise you on the basic checks you can carry out weekly on the system, but they will undertake the thorough, whole system checks that will keep the system running efficiently and over the long term.