Smarter Business: Greening Advisor
Replacing older HVAC systems
A building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) consumes a lot of energy. Most energy consumed in the United States comes from the combustion of coal, which powers most buildings and contributes to smog, acid rain, and other negative health impacts. Coal combustion also contributes significantly to global warming. In addition, coal mining—especially surface mining and mountaintop removal—is destroying some of the world’s most biologically important ecosystems. Investing in better HVAC systems helps to minimize these negative impacts.
Replacing less efficient HVAC equipment with newer, more efficient equipment can yield operating cost reductions. According to the EPA, replacing components of a less efficient HVAC system typically cuts energy costs by about 20 percent.
Improving HVAC systems also promotes a healthier environment for employees. Improved filtration technology decreases the amount of particulates and biocontaminants, such as fungus, mold, and viruses. More efficient HVAC systems are also more effective at filtering out nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, and other air pollutants.
When purchasing a new HVAC system, consider buying the most efficient model that suits your needs. Visit the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star products database for a list of the most efficient HVAC systems. In addition, consult the Energy Star Building Manual for HVAC Systems to learn more about HVAC efficiency upgrades. For products that are not rated by Energy Star, consult the Federal Energy Management Program.
For a list of additional incentives and rebates in your state, visit the State Database of Renewables and Efficiency and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s Tax Incentives Assistance Project.
When replacing HVAC equipment, keep the following in mind:
- Look for the USEPA’s Energy Star seal.
- If Energy Star does not rate a particular option, purchase the most efficient model feasible.
- Look for other energy-saving features such as programmability and power-saving functions.
- Many products use energy even when they’re turned off. Look for equipment that uses as little energy as possible while in “off” mode.
- Department of Energy’s Heating and Cooling Systems website
- Santa Monica Green Buildings Program HVAC systems webpage
- EPA: Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
- HVAC best practices
- Climate Neutral Network: Greenhouse Gas Accounting Worksheet
- Energy Star Building Upgrade Value Calculator
- Energy Star Savings Calculators
- Energy Efficiency Resource Database
When replacing HVAC equipment, look for the USEPA’s Energy Star seal.
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