Advanced controls could cut the energy use of packaged HVAC units by more than half, according to a 12-month field test at malls, grocery stores, and other commercial buildings throughout the U.S.
Sophisticated controls are far more common for air handling units than packaged HVAC, the research team explains. Packaged units are also frequently allowed to run for hours, even when they’re not needed, and typically receive little maintenance, adding to greenhouse gas emissions and wasting energy dollars.
The team simply added commercially available control kits on 66 rooftop HVAC units at eight volunteer commercial buildings in Washington state, Ohio, California, and Pennsylvania, with the goal of enabling packaged units to automatically adjust their operations based on building conditions – just like the controls that are widely available for AHUs.
The results were staggering. Energy savings ranged from 20-90%, with an average energy reduction of 57%. Larger buildings like malls, which required bigger HVAC units, saved the most energy, as did buildings with higher ventilation needs (such as stores with long hours).
Using the national average of 10 cents per kWh, the field-tested rooftop units would each save an average of $1,489 annually for an estimated payback of three years.
Interested in upgrading or replacing your rooftop HVAC? Check out the Advanced RTU Campaign here.