A building owner may not even know it’s there, but the truth is, your economizer is a crucial component dedicated to keeping your energy bills low. Unlike many other parts of your HVAC system, the economizer is a relatively recent innovation – one that allows the use of outdoor air for cooling when temperature and humidity standards are met.
This has come to be called “free cooling” – it keeps tenants cool without running a compressor, one of the most expensive components of maintaining your building’s internal climate.
Economizers come in several varieties:
- Dry Bulb: This economizer uses a special sensor that determines when outdoor air is at or below 55°F or the setpoint you select. When the temperature is right, a call for cooling causes an actuator to open a damper that lets outdoor air mingle freely with return air. Unfortunately, this type of economizer does not typically detect humidity levels.
- Single Enthalpy: This economizer takes the opposite approach, using sensors to determine the level of humidity in the air before using it for cooling. To get the best performance from these devices, it’s crucial to have them inspected regularly with the rest of your HVAC system – over time, the sensor can become inaccurate.
- Differential Enthalpy: This device measures both the return air enthalpy and the outdoor air enthalpy—allowing for advanced damper modulation that takes into account the lowest amount of enthalpy that should be used for cooling as well as the optimum level. In an integrated differential model, the system communicates with the indoor thermostat.
Economizers Save Money and Enhance Performance
Saving money and reducing energy use are important goals that building managers throughout New York City have grown more focused on in recent years. Large commercial buildings can achieve many advantages by introducing a modern, well-calibrated economizer:
Economizers can be fit with special sensors that detect the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, registering increases as more people use the space. Beyond a certain level, the economizer will enhance ventilation by allowing more fresh outdoor air to enter.
Reduced Energy Spending
Overall energy costs can be reduced dramatically using an economizer. The longer your compressor remains off, the more money you will save. With proper maintenance, it’s possible to save 10% or more on your electricity costs over the course of a year.
Extended Life for Other Equipment
Using an economizer means hundreds or even thousands of hours throughout the year when your compressor will be idle. This reduces wear and tear on external parts and allows you to go longer between major replacements, which can be very costly.
When it comes to getting the most from your economizer, preventative maintenance is crucial.
Since economizers are relatively simple machines, they are often overlooked. Depending on the weather, it may be weeks or even months before a faulty economizer is identified as not working the way it should. By then, money has been lost.
To get the most from your economizer, contact Donnelly Mechanical.