It would be highly imprudent to invest in a high-efficiency HVAC system to establish an effective commercial energy plan, only to sabotage its functionality by failing to maintain its critical components.

Granted, commercial energy management is complicated; however, there are myriad options for business owners and managers to lower their utility bills and maintain their system’s integrity. At the top of the list is performing relatively simple HVAC maintenance, either by oneself or with the assistance of a qualified, certified HVAC contractor.

Heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are quite energy-intensive. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), maintaining comfortable temperatures account for as much as 15 percent of a commercial building’s energy costs.

Furthermore, the DOE also cites that most of a HVAC system’s energy and costs are lost to waste—as much as 30 percent. It becomes critical to mitigate this waste, not only to save on energy bills, but to improve sustainability as well.

Here are some commercial HVAC maintenance tips to complement one’s commercial energy plan, improve system sustainability, and reduce costs.

Improve Your Energy Plan With These Commercial HVAC Maintenance Tips

1. Change HVAC Filters Regularly

Dirty filters restrict airflow and, subsequently, overwork HVAC systems. Dirty filters increase costs by reducing air quality, thus resulting in more and more costly maintenance bills and other problems.

Simply changing filters on a regular basis—either by oneself or via a qualified HVAC technician—can reduce wasted energy by 5-10 percent. Experts recommend changing filters on a monthly basis.

2. Proper Sealing of Heating/Cooling Ducts

There are several methods for sealing ducts, and the additional step of wrapping them in insulation can further improve HVAC efficiency. In fact, ensuring proper duct seals improves HVAC performance by as much as 20 percent.

3. Install Programmable Thermostats

Achieving the optimum temperature in a building is often a difficult and contentious undertaking. Programmable thermostats enable setting temperatures at the optimal level to improve sustainability and reduce costs.

These thermostats can also be set to conserve energy in areas of a building which are not in use, such as over a weekend, for example. There are several types of programmable thermostats available on the market today.

Improve Your Energy Plan With These Commercial HVAC Maintenance Tips

4. Perform Regular Quality Maintenance

Commercial HVAC cost savings of as much as 40 percent are possible with regular maintenance. Checking condensate drains and evaporator coils and tightening all electrical connections—particularly outside—should be a regular part of any routine maintenance plan.

5. Check HVAC Component Lubrication and Refrigerant Level

Proper component lubrication reduces friction and ensures that a system runs smoothly. Similarly, ensuring proper refrigerant levels will also reduce the potential for expensive repairs and provide greater system longevity.

Improve Your Energy Plan With These Commercial HVAC Maintenance Tips

6. HVAC Upgrades/Replacement

Regularly replacing and/or upgrading HVAC equipment and systems have the potential to improve energy efficiency by as much as 20 percent. Running these systems past their lifespans oftentimes leads to high maintenance and energy costs.

The expert consensus is if a building’s HVAC components are older than ten years old, it is time to consider replacing them with ENERGY STAR-certified components, which can not only improve sustainability, but also significantly reduce costs.

7. Cultivate a Relationship with a Qualified HVAC Contractor

Working with a qualified and experienced HVAC contractor facilitates regular checkups and maintenance while optimizing a HVAC system’s sustainability. Because of the expense invested in commercial HVAC systems, like anything else, finding a knowledgeable HVAC contractor with whom to partner not only ensures that the system will be running as smoothly as possible without exorbitant energy costs, but also cultivates a level of trust and familiarity.