Learn how to maintain energy efficiency during COVID-19 building restrictions.
The Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASRAE) have developed health and safety guidelines for buildings during COVID-19. These recommendations are essential to maintaining the health and safety of occupants, but can negatively affect building efficiency. Here are key guidelines you can follow to remain as efficient as possible.
Demand control ventilation brings outdoor air into the building when occupied. Controls reduce ventilation when the building is unoccupied. This process is very efficient. The CDC, however, is recommending outdoor airflow nearly 100% of the time. Unfortunately this will increase energy use.
It is being recommended that HVAC systems use filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of 13 or 14. These are effective at blocking virus carriers, however they also add significant resistance to airflow, leading to higher energy usage.
Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) Lighting
The CDC recommends implementing this type of lighting as it is effective in killing viruses. UVGI lighting, however, consumes a lot of energy.
Offset Guideline Inefficiency
Energy Management Systems
These smart systems can dramatically improve the overall efficiency of a building by monitoring, reporting, and adjusting energy use across a range of systems. This investment will pay off now and in the long run.
Service & Maintenance
It’s important to change out MERV filters every two to three months to avoid high pressure caused by restricted air flow. Regular service of your HVAC system will help to ensure that your equipment is running at peak efficiency, avoid future costly repairs, and even down time.
UVGI lights may be a more efficient option in buildings with larger systems, like healthcare facilities.
Make Note of Changes
It’s very easy to make a temporary adjustment to your mechanical systems and then forget to change back when the time is right. Eventually these restrictions will be lifted, at which point you’ll want to ensure everything is returned to its most efficient state.