Don’t Oversize, Right-Size! How Right-Sizing HVAC Cuts Costs and Saves Energy

Our Virtual Lunch & Learn blog series explores a specific topic adapted from our most popular Allen & Shariff Lunch and Learn courses.

Rule-of-thumb calculations that have been standard in the building industry are being reevaluated due to significantly oversized HVAC systems. Designed to serve loads well above anything a building will actually experience, these systems are inefficient and costly over time.

The way to avoid ineffective estimates is to use integrated, whole-building design to identify and model a facility’s real needs for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning—right-sizing, not oversizing. That means moving away from rule-of-thumb sizing based solely on square footage, and instead matching the systems to actual loads to minimize start-up and operating costs.

It’s not always a simple process—there is less capacity to correct errors in design, installation, or change in usage, and liability for these issues is greater. It’s also a challenge to convince facility stakeholders to increase the relatively small portion of the budget that HVAC often occupies to spend more time making integrated calculations and specific engineering requirements. Unless they can be educated about the value of right-sizing in the context of whole-building design, these stakeholders are likely to be unreceptive to right-sizing.

But here are the benefits of right-sizing that make it easy to defend as a design method, and convince those you are working with why it’s worth considering.

  • Smaller electrical loads
  • Reduced capital costs
  • Smaller space requirements
  • Higher equipment efficiency
  • Less cycle time
  • Better overall control

The bottom line benefit for right-sizing is that it cuts costs and energy usage, two things that just about anyone on a project can get behind. Ready to look at implementing it in your next building project? Contact Allen & Shariff to schedule an in-person presentation by one of our industry experts, discuss some real-world case studies, and get your questions answered about HVAC right-sizing.

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