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Adjust thermostats and usage patterns of heating and cooling systems

The energy used to heat and cool buildings can be minimised by limiting heating and cooling periods, adjusting temperatures and servicing equipment to ensure it remains efficient.

A comfortable room temperature in winter is 18‐21°C, with each extra degree adding 10% to your energy costs.

Recommended thermostat temperatures for efficient use are 26°C in the summer and 20°C in the winter. This may be difficult to apply for centralised HVAC systems that serve different areas of buildings, but for ‘split system’ air conditioning systems, the temperature settings can easily be altered.
Keep heating/cooling systems off in mild weather. Air conditioners should be switched off at the fuse board over winter. Always ensure that you are capturing the heat you have generated by shutting doors and closing blinds.

The effectiveness of heating and cooling systems reduces over time. A regular service will ensure the system is performing as efficiently as possible.
Here are some features that you should consider when thinking about how to maintain your air conditioning system:
- Schedule. It's vital that you make maintenance a regular activity. Only then will you get the best out of your air conditioning system.
- Cleaning. Dirty components can significantly reduce the efficiency of your system, leading to increased energy costs. Make sure all components are regularly cleaned, particularly grilles, fans, and ductwork. Also, make sure to check the air conditioning's filters aren't blocked. It's possible to retro-fit gauges that will tell you when duct filters need replacing. The original installer (or a specialist contractor) will be able to provide a maintenance contract.
- Condensers. Keep condensers clean and unobstructed. Condensers are usually located outside a building (their job is to expel heat from the building). They are usually wall-hung in small ‘split-systems’, or floor-standing for larger systems.
- Insulation. Pipework insulation needs to be kept in good condition, otherwise more energy will be required to maintain the desired temperature.
- Refrigerant leaks. It's vital that you check for refrigerant leaks and repair them immediately. A leak could really increase energy consumption.

How did we calculate this?
On average, heating and cooling accounts for 36% of energy use in small to medium businesses. An average Victorian SME emits 107.3 tCO2e per year, so heating and cooling accounts for 0.36 x 107.3 = 38.6 tCO2e per year. If the thermostat setting can be decreased by  1°C in the winter when heating, and increased by 1°C in the summer when cooling, then 10% of the emissions due to heating and cooling could be saved = 0.1 x 38.6 = 3.86 tCO2e = 3,860 kgCO2e per year.

Cost to implement
$0 for adjusting thermostat settings, just takes a little time to monitor and adjust.

For more information, visit:
Carbon Down:
Carbon Trust - How to implement HVAC insulation:



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