Question: How can a water-side economizer benefit my business?

Answer: This super energy-efficient mechanical device helps reduce energy consumption as it works. An economizer, quite simply, is a heat exchanger. Having a water-side economizer in a building can result in LEED credits.

An alternative to the chiller in the winter months, a water-side economizer essentially produces chilled water from the cooling tower using evaporative cooling capacity from said tower.

Water-side economizer 101

The water-side economizer can be economically retrofitted and during water-side economizer operation, the cost of a chilled water plan can be reduced up to 70 per cent, according to ENERGY STAR.

ENERGY STAR offers water-side economizers for data centres with water chilled water plants — but there are a variety of these mechanical devices available for different buildings (often industrial).

In fact, in an article about energy efficiency and industrial buildings, Consulting-Specifying Engineer talked to engineer C. Erik Larson who offered some insight about getting industrial buildings energy-efficient and suggested the water-side economizer.

“Heat recovery chillers, water-side economizer and high efficiency low-temperature heating water systems should all be on the table for consideration,” says Larson, “For example, in our region, an appropriate system selection can result in savings for LEED EA Credit 1 of 30% to 40% (10-15 points).”

The water-side economizer isn’t suited for all climates — it depends on the wet bulb temperature. But before selecting one for your building, it’s best to speak to an engineer or an expert on economizers to find the right one for your building.

More information on the “free cooling” water economizer

There is a great ‘engineers newsletter’ that explains the water economizer in depth, with clear language and fun facts. Check it out here.


For businesses, we offer a free interactive Energy Audit.


Image credit: Javier1949