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It’s a simple truth that commercial buildings and most homes depend on HVAC systems to keep indoor environmental conditions comfortable. While most property owners agree on this fact, still lots of myths concerning HVAC can be found out there with the potential to jeopardize your efforts. According to a report by US Department of Energy, the primary energy consumption in buildings is around 40% of total energy consumption, with 35% of the primary energy and 45% of electricity being consumed by Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems.
And thus lay the challenge for most building managers- identifying and utilizing facts to optimize building performance; in this case, HVAC system. Failure to do so can be costly leading to increased risk of equipment downtime, high-energy bills and operational cost, prolonged maintenance schedules etc.
With that in mind, it is your responsibility as a property owner or manager to get ahead of these popular beliefs. Coming to the rescue is the new technological concept that is the Internet of Things, simply called IoT.
The Internet of Things (IoT) means the interconnectivity of embedded physical devices over an Internet network. These devices can communicate and provide data on the go that forms the basis on which informed decisions can be made.
Bringing it home to buildings and HVAC systems, the concept of IoT is now been widely applied in design, construction, installation, performance optimization to mention a few. The ability of IoT to provide accurate and timely data concerning HVAC systems, has made it easily possible to see right through common HVAC misconceptions to get a clearer picture regarding the state and performance of your building’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning systems.
Don’t be fooled again, make smart decisions regarding your HVAC systems that will save you time and money. Thanks to IoT you can understand the following myths for what they truly are and get the best out of your HVAC.
Some HVAC myths and the role of IoT:
1. HVAC maintenance in not a necessity and a major hassle
It is tempting to believe that if it is not broken, it doesn’t need fixing. Of course this is not. Like every piece of machinery, routine maintenance is a must for some reasons- to catch developing problems early, to optimize the performance of your HVAC units, and additionally to prolong the lifespan of your appliances.
IoT shines through in the maintenance front. Sensors such as ultrasonic or vibration sensors in your HVAC equipment can provide data which can be stored, monitored, and used to “sense” performance changes and alert you that a problem is developing, all in real-time. Also, the data generated can be used to predict and schedule maintenance, thus saving you the stress of keeping tabs on your HVAC. What this means is that with IoT, you can now do less, yet get more value for your money and investment.
2. Turning your AC off when you leave the building is always bad
It is said that you shouldn’t turn your AC unit off when you step out of the building. Now here is what you should know- turning your unit off when you’ll be away for a while is obviously a sure way to save money and energy. However, incessant shutting off and on of your system is bad for its longevity. Additionally, shutting it off during hot conditions to then turn it on again will place a lot of strain on the system. The bottom-line here is that shutting off your AC unit depends on the situation at hand. With IoT, you can get the better of every situation by having professionals integrate a programmable thermostat over the network. This will automatically turn the AC off and on based on the usage of the building thus freeing you of the headache of deciding.
3. It is difficult to monitor the ductwork
This is not true. Not only is the ductwork of your HVAC system very important to the overall performance and expected results. This can be monitored easily, accurately, and in real-time using sensors placed within the duct systems with the help of IoT solutions.
These sensors will provide continuous data on airflow, temperature, and pressure that can be monitored real-time. The information gathered can be used to schedule maintenance, renovation, or a total overhaul.
4. You should keep the temperature constant throughout the day to save more
The ability of your air conditioner or heating to maintain a desired temperature within your building is greatly influenced by the temperature outside. So what this implies is that if the temperature outdoor is high, your AC unit will have to work more to bring the temperature to the desired level and vice versa. To get the best result, cut energy cost, and also give your unit the much-needed help, it is advisable to set the temperature close to the outside temperature. Monitoring outdoor temperature and adjusting your AC temperature can be a chore. Luckily, with IoT, sensors together with programmable thermostat can monitor outdoor temperatures and make necessary adjustments respectively in a seamless and automated manner.
5. Current occupancy sensors are sufficient
This is common sense right? However the truth is that occupancy sensors have limited ability. IoT brings the capability of adding real-time localized sensing capabilities. An intelligent array of connected sensors offers deep insights into the occupancy patterns and how heat, light and sounds move throughout the building. Here, IoT provides programmable and predictive capabilities that can make simple rule based decisions and the HVAC system can be adjusted throughout the building systems instead of focusing on just one room or one building.
6. You don’t need to change the Air filters often
This is another misconception that you should treat with a pinch of salt. Why? The reason being that a dirty air filter in your HVAC system will cause it to work harder in an attempt to over-compensate for the hindrance in air flow. When this happens, performance is impaired and system breakdown is inevitable in the long run. To avoid these problems and ensure you get the desired comfort levels within your building, it is standard recommendation to have the air filters changed regularly. And IoT technology- sensors can determine the best time to call for a change by monitoring and providing data on dirt build up, airflow, pressure, and energy consumption.
7. Closing the vents in unused rooms is energy efficient
While it might seem like a no-brainer to close the air vents in unused spaces in an attempt to save energy, the fact of the matter is you’ll be achieving the opposite and also putting the performance of your unit at risk. Closing air vents will increase the pressure within the air ducts and ultimately distort the needed balanced air pressure which will cause the HVAC system to work harder in addition to causing damages and air leakages along the air duct network. Pressure sensors within the air duct can drip feed you with real-time data and give you an idea of the situation of things within the ducts. On this premise, interventions can be initiated to optimize the performance of your system.
There you have it; a roll call of some of the most widely held HVAC myths. With IoT you can now tell what is a fact using insights provided by data gleaned from the HVAC systems. This will allow you to make informed decisions not based on hearsay but on facts that can be proved. The greater good in using IoT in all of these processes is that it will not only make your HVAC systems perform better, it will prolong their lifespan in addition to helping you cut down on your energy costs.