How the Performance of Your HVAC Could be Impacting Air Quality

How the Performance of Your HVAC Could be Impacting Air Quality

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A building's heating and cooling units bear the brunt of maintaining clean air and healthy living and working conditions. Their performance is crucial, as every year, many fall sick from a building's lack of indoor air quality. Building owners and managers must make it their responsibility to check their air conditioning or space heating units. Otherwise, the costs can take physical and financial tolls. 

Studies show that many commercial and residential buildings fail to uphold proper air quality standards.  

HVAC upkeep failure places building occupants at risk of inhaling pollutants, harmful debris, and exposure to improper humidity levels. Additionally, while health risks are a major concern, poor performing air conditioning also increases annual energy costs. 

Because of these risks, property managers must put in the effort to implement building energy software tools that track performance and building energy levels for every type of system, like heat pumps and air conditioners. 

How Is HVAC Performance Measured?

There are many ways to measure  HVAC performance on a routine basis. However, thorough measurement is the only way to guarantee that a system is energy-efficient and not allowing harmful particles to pollute the air. 

Unfortunately, many traditional ways to measure HVAC performance and energy savings are complex, time-consuming, and require technical knowledge. Some typical methods of measuring HVAC performance include the following: 

  1. Calculating BTUs (British Thermal Units) 
  2. Energy Efficiency HVAC Ratio
  3. Inspecting HVAC Run Time and Temperature Changes

These steps are necessary and recommended by experts such as the Association of Energy Engineers, Energy Star, and the International Energy Agency. However, with the dawn of digitally connected appliances, there are an increasing amount of modern solutions making the process of HVAC performance management quicker, easier, and more effective. 

With continued investment into the Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology, revolutionary digital solutions provide heightened HVAC performance visibility, helping organizations guarantee better indoor air quality. These modern solutions include installing sensors that measure central fan energy usage, air quality levels, humidity, and more. 

All of this information is stored in a cloud. The harvested data is then displayed in a dashboard, providing clear, actionable metrics for building owners to easily access and digest. 

How Does Your Air Conditioning System Affect the Air in Your Building?

A fully functioning, high performance HVAC system plays a vital role in any building's sustainability and health conditions. However, even if a small part of the system isn't working correctly, it may cause permanent damages, health hazards, and unnecessary costs.  

Left unchecked, damaged or clogged HVACs systems lead to inadequate humidity or rising levels of harmful dust and debris in the air. With these symptoms come many associated health risks. Therefore, poor performance AC and heating systems are a considerable concern and must be addressed as soon as possible. 

There's also a significant cost effect associated with HVAC performance. Space heating and cooling are the two main electrical costs in commercial and residential buildings. When the HVAC systems need to be fixed, these costs often increase exponentially. Because of this, facilities must develop solid energy efficiency strategies to prioritize indoor air quality. As a result, energy costs come down, and productivity increases. 

It's important to remember that there's no single cause of poor performance. Instead, multiple HVAC issues lead to lower air quality. 

Decreases Airflow Rates if Faulty

The HVAC system might develop decreased airflow for many reasons, and the effects can be moderate to severe. Reduced airflow causes the air to become stale and dirty because of stunted air cycles in and out of the building. This low airflow acutely affects those with preexisting lung and respiratory conditions and dust and pollen allergies. 

The three most common reasons for lowered airflow are:

  1. Leaking Air Ducts
  2. Dirty or Clogged Air Filter
  3. Blocked or Obstructed Outdoor Condenser

These issues weaken the airflow, resulting in poorer indoor air quality. Additionally, the HVAC system raises energy bills because it constantly runs to bring a space to its proper levels. 

The best way to combat this is to install a top-notch digital sensor system that helps monitor all the major causes of blocked airflow. 

Increases Dust and Undesirable Air Conditions

When one part of an HVAC system fails, the entire building's air quality is lowered. However, many don't realize that an HVAC system does much more than heat and cool a space; it also controls the dust and humidity in the air. 

When HVAC performance declines, the likelihood of dangerous dust, pollutants, pollen, and gasses entering the air increases. Also, humidity levels become thrown off, and the air can become too dry or too hot, leading to uncomfortable environments, and can even cause soreness of the eyes and throat. 

A handful of metrics are useful to monitor and sustain good indoor air quality. However, a building manager's approach should always be preemptive instead of reactive, because the effects of poor indoor air can be serious and potentially deadly. 

Prevents Proper Ventilation

Ventilation is key to eliminating dangerous particles like mildew, mold, pollen, and toxic gas — such as carbon monoxide. Of course, there's always going to be a certain level of unwanted pollutants in the air, but proper ventilation is a must for keeping indoor air quality healthy. 

HVAC systems are a building's biggest defense against airborne threats, as they are the best way to excrete and filter the air coming into a facility. Unfortunately, when a system is broken, damaged, or worn, the ventilation capacity decreases, and the air quality decreases as a result.  

What You Can Do to Improve Air Quality and Improve Conventional Comfort

Fixing broken or run-down HVAC systems can be a costly affair. However, there are ways to monitor your system's performance, leading to greater comfort, reduced maintenance costs, and savings on energy gains.

Digitizing your building's HVAC system with state-of-the-art sensors is one of the best ways to guarantee consistent performance. It also gives managers the tools to track air quality and address issues before they become serious.

For more information, visit Attune to schedule a demo and learn how our market-leading digital solutions can revolutionize your building's indoor air quality. 

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