Why we should not Overlook Replacing the Old Air Conditioning Units of the Light Commercial Buildings

Most of the light commercial buildings have packaged air conditioning units or ducted split air conditioning units. These units mostly fall in the capacity range of 15 kW to 90 kW and usually they are reverse cycle heat pumps to provide cooling in summer and heating in winter. When I drive around the suburb I live in Melbourne, I find numerous light commercial buildings that have either packaged or ducted split air conditioning units and most probably these units are as old as the buildings themselves and never been inspected for energy efficiency. This is in one suburb only so imagine how many light commercial buildings we have in Melbourne metropolitan or even in all Victoria. If you do the math you will find that we can save substantial energy by replacing the old inefficient air conditioning units in these small buildings with new high efficiency type.

These light commercial buildings are usually rented and the tenants don’t have the authority to approve the replacement of these units and also they don’t want to pay for the cost of the replacement. Likewise, the landlord is not welling to replace these units because they don’t pay the energy bills and the tenant pays for that. Therefore, it is lost between the landlord and the tenants and they keep run these units even if it is not efficient and waste a lot of energy.

I see some companies of LED lights and solar PV systems approach these buildings for replacing their old lights or install a solar PV system for them but I have never seen a company approach these buildings to inspect the air conditioning units and offer replacing them with higher efficiency units even though there is a government rebate scheme for such replacement in some states such as Victorian Energy Upgrade Project in Victoria.

I don’t know who to blame here? Is it the air conditioning contractors and maintenance companies, the energy consultants like us or the government for not advertising for their rebate schemes for the air conditioning units replacement?

The new high efficiency air conditioning units for these light commercial buildings come with variable speed compressors and also with variable speed supply fans, which make it very efficient. The manufacturers claim that these high efficiency units can save up to 37% in energy consumption compared with the old inefficient units. For example for a unit of 35 kW cooling/heating capacity, this equals to around 5,000 kWh energy saving and around $1,000 cost savings per year per unit. This also will result of 5.4 Tonnes CO2 avoidance of greenhouse gases emissions per year. These savings only from one unit but imagine how many units each building have and how many small buildings we have then this let us think about it seriously and how to get these old air conditioning units replaced.

In our opinion, the government has the main role to make this happens by increasing the rebates and incentives for the replacement of the old air conditioning units to encourage the landlord/tenant to replace these old units and also they should advertise about these rebates to make the landlord/tenants and the air conditioning maintenance companies aware of these rebates. The air conditioning maintenance companies have also an important role in convincing the landlord/tenant to replace the old units with new high efficiency units. Finally, the energy consultants like us should also reach out to the building owners to inform them about these rebate schemes and how replacing the old unit with new high efficiency unit will save them money and in the same time help protecting the environment for the coming generations.

For a comprehensive inspection and review of your air conditioning system, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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