Heating & Cooling

Heating and cooling represents the highest area of energy usage in the average multi-family unit.  The biggest energy draw is air conditioning, so designing the building for energy efficiency (shade, lots of insulation, daylighting, Energy Star appliances) will minimize the heat gains that the Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) unit has to overcome.  The HVAC can be “right-sized” so the smallest possible HVAC unit will do the job.  HVAC units with the highest efficiency (defined as SEER; 14 SEER being the highest efficiency level) have two-stage compressor motors. Only during the hottest days will the second, more energy consuming stage be called upon. 


Upgrading the envelope (roof, attic, walls and windows) will significantly reduce the cooling load.  On average, 40% of conditioned air is leaked out of the home, meaning that for every $100 spent heating or cooling, $40 is wasted. Doing a careful room-by-room cooling load calculation may mean a smaller HVAC system will suffice (e.g. 2-ton vs. 3-ton). In addition, new HVAC systems are much more energy efficient (measured by the SEER rating).


There are a few basic things you can do below to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.

What can you do about it?

Adjust thermostat.

In the winter set the thermostat to 68°F while there are occupants in the building and set it lower while there are no occupants present. By turning the thermostat back for 8 hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill. In the summer, you can follow the same strategy with central air conditioning by lowering the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when occupied and the building needs cooling.


Repair leaky ducts.

Leaky ducts account for a huge loss of energy. Common issues are holes/leaks, improper materials or insulation of ducts, too many twists and turns, and gaps in the system. 


Install a programmable thermostat.

Monitor heating and cooling times by purchasing a programmable thermostat. This is an inexpensive way of better controlling the temperature of your business. Although thermostats can be adjusted manually, programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal when needed.


Change air filters regularly. 

A dirty air filter makes your heating/cooling system 25% less efficient.  Changing out the filter will not only improve the efficiency of you heating and cooling system, but will also improve the quality of air within the building.  


Upgrade your heating and cooling system to an ENERGY STAR rated model.

Upgrading your heating and cooling system to an ENERGY STAR model can save you up to 44% of energy compared to standard models.





To learn more about HVAC equipment click here.

Annual and Life Cycle Costs and Savings for 1 Central Air Conditioner(s)