Businesses need to save money on their operating costs in order to thrive. When your air conditioning system is the right size for your office space, is on a regular maintenance schedule, and is a modern unit that is sufficiently energy efficient, you will save money on this important operating cost. When cooling units go down, it becomes very hard for your employees to focus on the task at hand. Also, clients that enter the building will not want to stay for long. Clearly, when air conditioning systems are not working properly, your business is put at risk.
Problems Due to Improper Sizing and Lack of Maintenance
Sadly, some office buildings have cooling systems that are either improperly sized, have not been properly maintained, or are at the end of their service life. When units are sized too small for your area, they will strain at high for the entire warm period of the day, wasting energy and leading to shorter service life. Units that are too large for your office space will cycle on briefly and then be cycled off for long periods of time, leaving your office with zones that are too cold and zones that are too warm.
When air conditioning units are not maintained properly, they can be straining and possibly make unusual sounds. This also wastes energy and leads to excessive wear and tear for the unit. Obviously, this ends up wasting precious business capital.
Potential Warning Signs
Even units that have been properly maintained and are properly sized will eventually need repairs or reach their end of service. A unit that has a bad odor may have mold growing in the system. If the smell is more like something is burnt, it is possible that the motor is overheating or that there is a wire that has burned out.
Units that are no longer pumping cool air into your office may have a thermostat that is malfunctioning, or they may have a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant leaks can create pools of water, discoloration, ice buildup on the coils, or hissing sounds as other tell-tale signs. If your air conditioning unit is suffering from a reduction in airflow, the air filter may simply be too dirty to function properly, the air ducts may not have been sufficiently sealed, the ducts may be obstructed, or the compressor may be on its way out.
If your air conditioning unit is making unusual noises, the sound may be an indication of the problem. For example, squealing noises can be fan belts or blowers that are going out. Also, air conditioners naturally have a bit of a hum and develop more of a hum as they age, but a hum with a bit of a buzz could indicate a problem in the electrical portion of the system. If you hear banging or clunking, it could be that the fan, blower, motor, or compressor is loose.
If your unit begins to cycle on and off quite a bit more than in the past, that is also a sign that something is wrong with the system. This also could signify a thermostat that is going out. The only way to know for sure is to have a professional inspect the unit.
Weighing the Cost/Benefit of a New AC Unit
The government is regularly increasing the energy efficiency ratings required for new air conditioning units sold in the country. If you have an older unit or one that needs major repairs, you may want to consider the costs versus the benefits financially of purchasing a newer, more energy-efficient unit.
Larger commercial and residential air conditioning units are rated with a system labeled SEER. It stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER rating is designed to measure cooling capacity versus energy cost for units cooling in conditions from 65 to 105 degrees.
Units that are over 15 years old tend to have a SEER rating that is around 8. The new units being sold on the market in the southern states, like Maryland, start at a SEER rating of 14 and up because that level of energy efficiency is mandated by the federal government for all new installations in the country. You can run your monthly energy costs through a SEER calculator online to see how soon you can recoup the cost of buying a new, more energy-efficient unit.
Which New Unit Should I Get?
If it makes the most sense to replace the existing unit, you will still have an important factor to consider. New units can begin at a SEER rating of 14, but they can go up to a rating of 23 and above. Which makes the most sense to purchase, a more economical unit or a unit with better overall energy efficiency? Why are some units so much more efficient?
Looking at the latter question first, units that have two stages or variable speeds are more energy efficient. They have SEER ratings of 16 and above. Units with lower SEER ratings are one-stage units. What that means is that the air conditioner is either on at a high speed or off. A two-stage unit has a low and a high setting. Thus, the unit is either off, on low, or on high. Two-stage units are more efficient because they quickly get the rooms to the desired temperature on high and then operate at low to keep the rooms cool. This keeps their energy costs lower and saves on wear and tear on the unit over time.
A unit with a SEER rating of 16 is 14% more efficient than a unit with a SEER rating of 14. The jump between a unit with a lower rating of 14 SEER compared to a two-stage unit with a 20 SEER rating is 43% more energy efficient. To make a judicious decision between units, you can plug numbers into an online SEER calculator to see if the initial cost of the unit will be offset enough by the reduced energy costs to justify the purchase of a unit with a higher SEER. The higher the SEER, the more expensive the unit, and the cost differential can be dramatic.
We Can Help!
Here at Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating in Hanover, Maryland, we will take care of your office building’s comfort needs whether it is snowing in the winter or in the 90s in the summer. We know that breakdowns in your comfort units can slow or stop the pace of work. Our services are quick and dependable, and we are here to keep indoor areas comfortable year-round. Our technicians are fully licensed and trained. We are experienced in commercial units as well as residential. Besides the design of commercial HVAC systems and HVAC repair, installation and maintenance, we provide the following commercial office services:
- Heat pump and furnace installation, repair, and maintenance
- Boiler service
- Duct cleaning
- Indoor air quality products, like air filtration systems
- Ductwork installation
Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating serves Hanover, Columbia, Ellicott City, and the surrounding area here in Maryland, and we are very proud of our BBB-accredited A+ rating. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!