What’s Happening with Economizers?

energy savings, air conditioning
Here’s a secret: this building’s economizer could be wasting energy.

According to the U.S. Energy Administration, HVAC demands alone eat up more than 51% of the average commercial building’s energy usage. That in turn translates into a significant spend when it comes to your utility costs. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a solution built in to the system you already have to prevent such overages?

We’d like to say “yes,” but the truth is, it’s complicated. By California law, your commercial HVAC system now comes with an economizer feature. This dampered vent is accompanied by sensors designed to open when needed, letting cooler air from the outside in on temperate days, reducing the need for mechanical air conditioning. On days when the weather is hot, these dampers are also supposed to close, preventing warm outside air from entering and thus reducing the strain on your HVAC system.

Theoretically, your economizer should reduce your energy costs up to 10%, paying for itself within 3-5 years. However, please notice we said, “theoretically.” The reality is somewhat different, for most, if not all commercial building owners. These products are frequently installed incorrectly, built cheaply and poorly understood. Making a bad situation worse, their components are often faulty, resulting in higher energy costs for the commercial building owner rather than lower ones. The good news? A simple failed linkage or jammed damper that no longer opens or closes may be an easy problem to fix, but only if you know about it.

What to do? It starts with awareness. Most building owners may not even appreciate that this equipment exists in their building, let alone that it is malfunctioning. To stay on top of the situation, you’ll need to get your economizer checked regularly for proper operation by a qualified HVAC professional.

Let them calibrate the temperature sensors, and ensure that the dampers are indeed working as they should. One caveat: economizers are often complicated. Many a well-meaning handyman or even less-than-the-best HVAC specialist will simply choose to disable the system rather than fix the problem. Sometimes this results in even more energy usage, rather than savings. Broken, permanently open dampers mean lots of outside air getting inside on hot days, forcing your HVAC system to work harder, not smarter. Furthermore, on other days, a properly functioning economizer could bring in enough cooler outside air to obviate the need for air conditioning entirely. Think of the money you could save!

Not sure what to look for? Do you simply need more information? Get the scoop with our latest white paper. It’s free and contains not only facts on how these economizers work, but also ways to troubleshoot common problems, too.

Download it hvac economizers, and get on the road towards saving money when it comes to your energy bills, not wasting it.

With your economizer, it can go either way.

Since 1969, the San Gabriel Valley commercial building owners have trusted Air-Tro to handle their indoor comfort needs. Call the experts at Air-Tro today. It’s good business! (626) 357-3535.