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Heating & Cooling

By implementing eco-efficiencies in heating and cooling, you can find ways to reduce costs while raising the environmental profile of your business. In Victoria, we are fortunate to have a mild climate. Only during freakish bouts do we rely on heavy air conditioning or excessive heating. In Downtown Victoria, most businesses regulate their internal temperature with electric heating, natural gas, or oil. With the cost of energy increasing, and heating and cooling accounting for 25% of businesses’ overall energy consumption, this section warrants your attention. Did you know that a few simple actions, such as insulating your heat pipes and purchasing a programmable thermostat can significantly reduce your energy bills? Read further for more simple solutions that will save you money and help the planet.

"Use heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment efficiently to save as much as 30% on your total energy bill and to extend the life of your equipment"
–BC Hydro


Behavioural Change

Here are some simple actions to encourage within your business that reduce energy usage for heating and cooling:

  • Amend dress code during summer months to help save on cooling costs (plus, everyone loves business casual)
  • Keep room temperature to a maximum of 19°C and encourage staff to wear a sweater
  • Open blinds to help stay warm and closed to stay cool
  • Move furniture, rugs and curtains away from air grills and heating vents
  • Keep doors closed to keep the heat in

Door Open or Closed? Keeping your shop doors closed in winter reduces your energy usage by up to 50% (Cambridge University) and enhances thermal comfort for staff and customers. There is no evidence that leaving doors open results in higher sales. Assume your average winter energy bill is $1000 per month when doors are kept open during hours of operation. This could be reduced by $500 per month by simply having the doors closed. This means, you would need to make $500 or more in additional sales to justify having your doors open.

Place clear, prominent notices on your front door, or in strategic places throughout your store, highlighting your energy-saving policies/sustainability actions. This will let customers know you care.

Minimize Heat Loss

"Minimizing heat loss and using the heat from the sun to your advantage can cut energy bills by 5%"
– BC Hydro

Open doors and window leaks are just a few examples of heating and cooling inefficiencies. Listed below are a few simple actions that will help your organization do more with less energy.

  • Control the amount of sun that comes through your windows and lower air conditioning costs with solar screens, solar films, awnings and vegetation
  • Areas with ceilings over 3 metres tall should install a fan to force heat downwards
  • Draft-proof windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulking to prevent air leaks
  • Avoid heating dead spaces like storage areas or empty hallways
  • Use light coloured paint on exteriors and roofs, which reflects the sun’s heat, helping to keep it cooler inside during the summer months.

Insulating hot water pipes and tanks with foam or rubber can reduce water heating costs by about 2%. Six feet of insulation costs between $3 and $8 and can be found at almost any home hardware store in Victoria. PowerSmart has a rebate for this so you can stretch your dollar over more feet of piping.

Encourage front desk staff to book rooms in clusters to save on heating and cooling costs. Fill rooms on corners and top floors last, as they tend to be more energy intensive. During periods of low occupancy, close down entire wings or floors. Also, reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter by closing window draperies and shades in guest rooms.

Applying a clear, heat-rejecting window film will help cut your cooling costs while making your dining room more comfortable. Use only high quality window film installed by a qualified professional.


"Cut your business energy bill by up to 10% or more by properly adjusting and monitoring heating and cooling set points"
– BC Hydro

Small, easy adjustments to your HVAC system can greatly reduce the amount of energy your establishment is consuming. The actions listed below are among some of the easiest to realize significant energy savings.

  • In wintertime, heat your building to a maximum of 19°C when occupied and 17°C when unoccupied. Set points must be 2°C to 3°C apart so the heating and cooling system does not have to turn on and off frequently.
  • In larger offices, consider installing a locking device on thermostats to prevent heat from being turned up too high
  • In winter, begin heating space once occupants arrive and turn the heat down 1 hour before occupants leave
  • When occupied in summer, cool your building no lower than 24°C

Programmable thermostats will automatically adjust the temperature based on time and day of the week, so there's no worry of accidentally leaving the heat on after hours. These are a low cost investment and typically range in price from $50-$200. Find them at almost any local hardware store or call your HVAC contractor.

You can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours. The percentage of savings from setback is greater for buildings in milder climates than for those in more severe climates.– US Department of Energy

Learn more about taking advantage of HVAC controls here.

Equipment Maintenance

Just like a car, your HVAC system needs regular maintenance and repair in order to maintain its efficiency.

Cleaning and Inspecting

  • Have your system serviced once a year by a HVAC professional
  • Regularly clean or replace air filters and dampers to ensure proper air flow.
  • Keep condenser coil face clear of all debris
  • Keep the cooling tower clean to minimize both air and water pressure drops.
  • Clean air inlet screen, spray nozzle and pump screen to ensure they are not clogged.
  • Regularly clean water side chiller and boiler tubes.
  • Clean heating and cooling coils with a high-pressure mixture of water and detergent to allow for maximum heat transfer.
  • Inspect all ductwork for air leaks and seal leaks by taping, caulking or replacing flexible connections.
  • Replace air filters at regular intervals or at pre-determined pressure drops.

Learn more about maintaining your HVAC here.

Upgrade Heating and Cooling Equipment

Retrofitting equipment is often the most cost effective way to lessen environmental impact. However, if it’s time to upgrade your HVAC system, make sure you are investing in an energy efficient product. ENERGY STAR serves as the international standard for identifying energy efficient products.

Examples of Equipment

  • Upgrade to high-efficiency condensing boilers which use less gas and take up less space
  • Replace older water heaters and supply boilers with high-efficiency natural gas models, new water heaters are up to 95% efficient and can reduce gas consumption
  • Upgrade to high-efficiency dishwashers which heat water quickly using less energy

Look for energy efficient HVAC systems in BC Hydro’s online e.catalogue. It hosts over 10,000 energy-efficient products from over 250 brands.

Consider installing drainpipe heat exchangers in your dishwashing station. They can save 50 to 60 per cent of energy for water heating, shorten payback times, and double or triple the water heater’s first-hour capacity.

Learn More

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