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25 January 2016

Air conditioning systems can devour more electricity than anything else in commercial premises, but how can you measure and control these costs?

The single biggest consumer of energy in a typical UK commercial building is the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

Over an average year, the air con system alone could guzzle more electricity than a building’s annual heating bill, all the PCs and office equipment combined, or two or three times the amount of energy used by the building’s entire lighting system.

Fortunately, help is at hand through a revolutionary new intelligent manifold that produces instant reports on exactly how energy efficient the air conditioning system is.
Setting out the scale of the problem to be tackled, Stephen Matthews, Chief Executive of CIBSE (the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) explains: “Air conditioning systems can use as much as 30% of the electrical demand of a building, so a poorly performing system will be wasting a large amount of energy.”
That’s why for service and building managers, keeping air conditioning equipment serviced and maintained to run at peak efficiency is one of the easiest ways to:

* Significantly reduce a building’s overall energy usage
* Enhance your corporate reputation by lowering your carbon footprint
* Make major gains in your energy efficiency
* Reduce costs associated with breakdowns, callouts and unplanned maintenance

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES)

To compound the problem, with changes on the horizon for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), air con efficiency (which represents by far the biggest slice of the energy usage pie) will come under increasing scrutiny.

An EPC is a legal document which details a building’s energy efficiency rating from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). Changes involving EPCs are coming as part of a new law; the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES), which as of 1 April 2018 will require rented commercial premises to have a rating of at least an E.

Buildings currently rated with an F or G will need to improve efficiency in order to comply, and estimates suggest approximately a fifth of UK business properties could be in the F & G rating brackets.

Monitoring air con energy efficiency

One of the simplest ways for managers to check air con efficiency over time is to insist that service engineers are using the right equipment to provide this information.
While most digital gauges currently used by A/C service engineers don’t have this facility, one example that does is the Imperial iManifold, the first of a new breed of “intelligent” digital manifolds, from the US, that has won awards on both sides of the Atlantic.

Unlike any other manifold on the market today, the iManifold calculates a system’s capacity, evaporator performance, system electrical efficiency, dehumidification, etc. during a routine air con service.

From these calculations, the iManifold can produce a range of technical reports on a system’s efficiency and performance, including instant measurements of the EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) of an air con system using dynamic, live system data.

The EER is a ratio calculated by dividing the cooling capacity of a system in Btus per hour, by the power input in watts, expressed in Btu/hr per watt.

This information can even be plotted on live graphs in the field, and detailed reports can be immediately emailed to building managers as a permanent record of an A/C system’s energy efficiency at a particular moment in time and stored in the cloud for future reference.
More importantly, because this data is precise and the measurement is instantly repeatable, these reports can be compared over time, allowing supervisors and managers to spot trends throughout the year or over much longer periods, giving them all the information they need to monitor and control the efficiency of their air conditioning system forever.

Distributed exclusively in the UK by Advanced Engineering, this year the iManifold won the RAC Cooling Industry Awards’ Innovation of the Year Award and two Product of the Year Awards, one at the ACR News Awards and another at the National ACR Awards.

For more information on how the Imperial iManifold can keep track of air con energy efficiency, cut service times and improve the way your service engineers work, visit the Advanced Engineering website at

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