Cooling costs are problematic for many facility managers and engineers because they represent such a significant portion of expenses. When cooling costs are too high, it can cause serious issues for any type of business.
If you are looking to keep your facility cool and your costs down, the following steps will help you understand the issue and solve it before it costs you even more money.
Step 1: Understand the Standards for Cooling
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) does not require that employers provide air conditioning for workers. However, the recommended temperature range in any workplace is between 68° F – 76° F. In its 2011 publication entitled Indoor Air Quality in Commercial and Institutional Buildings, OSHA suggests that relative humidity levels be between 30% and 60%, a standard set out by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Check out the temperature and humidity level in your building and compare it to these standards. The further you are from meeting acceptable levels of temperature and humidity, the more work you’ll likely need to do to improve cooling in your facility. Employee comfort drives employee productivity so staying well within the OSHA standard is in everyone’s best interest!
Step 2: Check for Air Leaks
Air leaks, sometimes known as infiltration, are a huge obstacle to reducing your cooling costs. In a study from 2005, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reported that energy cost savings could be as high as 36% in commercial buildings that were sealed to appropriate levels.
Remember to check areas such as:
- Doors, especially if they lead outside
Checking for air leaks can be challenging in larger facilities with high ceilings, but it is still critical. This step alone can be a huge part of reducing cooling costs in your facility.
Step 3: Use Energy Efficient Lighting
Why does energy-efficient lighting matter when it comes to your cooling costs? The more energy efficient your lighting is, the less heat it will produce. In some facilities where lots of light is required, such as manufacturing plants or laboratories, a large number of lighting fixtures can lead to elevated temperatures. Check out all of your current fixtures and see if there are any energy-efficient alternatives that might help you cut cooling costs.
Step 4: De-stratify the Air
There is a misconception that industrial cooling works by forcing cold air into a room. This is only part of the solution. Air also needs to be dispersed around the area so that the entire space feels cool.
When you do not have enough air movement, it results in a phenomenon known as air stratification. Your facility will have “layers” of air that are all at different temperatures. This is a problem because it means that even if you have a solution for industrial cooling, it might not reach certain areas.
De-stratifying the air in your facility also helps keep the people in your space cooler. Humans stay cool when sweat evaporates from the skin, a process that removes heat from the body. Research shows that circulating air can lower the effective temperature in a room by up to 8 degrees.
The same rule applies with heat. Flip the fans in reverse and you will be able to pull the warm air that is trapped at the ceiling down to the employees without the irritating “wind chill” factor that fans moving in forward provide.
Step 5: Use an HVLS Fan
One of the best ways to effectively lower the temperature in your facility without spending an arm and a leg on sophisticated cooling solutions is using a High Volume, Low Speed (HVLS) fan. Instead of pushing out a narrow, high-velocity column of air the way that pedestal or box fans do, an HVLS fan uses longer blades to push a higher volume of air at a lower velocity. This results in better air circulation, especially in larger buildings like warehouses and industrial facilities.
Step 6: Think About Changes in Your Operation
Are you constantly opening and closing loading doors that lead outside? Using several different kinds of machinery in your building? Not starting your climate control measures at the right time of day?
All of these factors can negatively impact your cooling costs. It’s true that there are some things that you can’t change about your operation, but even slight tweaks to things like the above examples can help reduce the amount of money you spend on cooling. For example, you might try switching your delivery schedule so that they happen during a cooler part of the day and your bays can remain closed during peak heat.
The Bottom Line
There isn’t a “silver bullet” type of solution that will completely solve your cooling issues. Instead, you should keep a close eye on all of the different elements that affect the temperature of your space and try to make sure none of them are costing you more than necessary to cool your facility.