Question: How does my chiller affect my energy bill? 

Answer: During seasonal times, your chiller can consume more than 50 per cent of your electrical energy in your building — and that’s a fact. Proper maintenance is extremely important and will directly affect your energy bill.

The good news is there are energy efficient chillers available that will improve the indoor environment of your business as it benefits your energy bill.

Either a water-cooled or air-cooled chiller is often a necessary element to keep your business a comfortable and productive environment. The water-cooled chiller is more energy efficient — especially when it comes to cooling larger buildings. In today’s Ask an Expert, we’ll show you why and how.

Chiller 101

As you know, heating and cooling costs add up and knowing what the chiller’s part is in your building’s system will help you to understand how it affects your energy bill.

Chillers have been regulated in Canada for minimum efficiency since 2004. There are three basic designs for chillers that work on a vapour compression cycle. Depending on the situation, there are different types and sizes of chillers that can best accommodate it.

Chillers are smart electrically fueled systems that work with water, heat, air and vapor. Basically, the chiller is responsible for dealing with chilled water, transferring it to air-handlers that work to transfer heat from the air to water.  The system also involves an evaporator and the ability to pass the heat from the water to a liquid refrigerant or Freon — which then goes into a compressor and becomes a hot vapour that will enter a condenser. Finally, when that hot vapour leaves the water side of the condenser it’s ready for its final heat removal in a cooling tower that allows evaporation, according to Efftec.

See, water-based chillers are energy efficient for larger buildings because they can produce higher tonnage at lower costs per ton. Hotels, hospitals, theme parks and the like typically opt for water-based chillers for this efficient reason.

Maintaining your chiller

Water chemistry, mechanical maintenance and operational procedures are what you need to keep your eyes on when taking proper care of your chiller.

A poorly maintained cooling tower can result in reduced chiller efficiency by 10-35 per cent, according to a Chillers Energy Fact Sheet. Also, you’ll lose 5-15 per cent of the efficiency from an air-cooled chiller because of a dirty coil condenser.

Both the chiller’s life and its efficiency depend on the proper maintenance of your chiller.

If you’re worried about threats to your chiller, see this.

Energy efficient chillers are available

If you’re in the position to install or upgrade to a new chiller, there are plenty of energy efficient chillers available. It’s important to do your research to figure out which one is the right chiller for you and will meet the needs of your building. For commercial and institutional organizations, Canadians have a helpful guide online when it comes to selecting the right high-efficiency chiller.

Of course, for businesses that are working to be energy efficient, we have incentives available.

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Image credit: The Tower Companies