Tag: HVAC energy comsumption

Technical Corner: Putting more Money into Your Pocket

These days balancing one’s finances is an ongoing job. There are “hidden” expenses we all have that follow the “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” rule.

A major one for buildings is power loss – up to 20% of what gets spent for energy is literally wasted. Why?

All occupied buildings today have heat, ventilating, and air conditioning. Most, if not all, have maintenance. Techniques used by service workers are not well known, and if you are like me, there are many things one does not necessarily want to know. In general, it appears best to out source the job of maintenance, or have a designated person on the maintenance staff to do the work.

It has been shown by ASHRAE, and is intuitive, that dirty cooling and heating coils dramatically influence how effective the HVAC system is in heating or cooling. In fact, there can be a 20% loss of efficiency with fouled coils. Since the HVAC system accounts for 50% of a buildings energy consumption, at least 10% of the monthly power bill can be avoided.

This amounts to several thousands of dollars per year in most buildings.

Research and development at CRT has addressed this important issue to reduce both financial expenditures and service work. Get in touch with us – more information is just a phone call or email away.

Technical Corner: Is Bigger Really Better? (Part 2)

Those who have read Part 1 of “Is Bigger Really Better” know that when it comes to air conditioner sizing, bigger is not necessarily better. But there are areas where bigger is better when it comes to preventative maintenance.Take the area of the condensate collection pan for example. Collection pans get dirty and produce odors. In some cases they are a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus, and other microbes.There is no question that these areas are among the dirtiest, if not the most offensive, areas of the air handler. Water overflowing comes about from fouling so bad that the collection pan drain line becomes solidly plugged, preventing water from flowing out naturally.Before the mid-1980s, all that could be done was to add tablets to the condensate pan to attempt to address the problem. Tablets dissolved quickly. Even those that purported not to dissolve quickly (a small weighted red box), an analysis of the active ingredient showed its’ solubility rate was 1.5 grams per liter of water. This would be how much would dissolve in one liter (about a quart) of water.

These type products, considered the best at the time, were used with varying results. It was not uncommon to see literally dozens of these boxes in an air handler, all with fungi and other microbes growing around them.

If the products were that good and they were not consistent, then there must be something we didn’t know as to why. One reason might have been that the water flow was much higher than the tablet could effectively treat. We checked a small fan-coil unit in Florida and found that this smaller unit flowed 1-1⁄2 gallons of water per day or about 6 liters of water.

Now if 1.5 grams of the tablet dissolved in 1 liter of water, then 6 liters would take up 9 grams with one day’s flow of water. But the tablets weighed 3⁄4 ounce or 21 grams. At its 50% active ingredient level, that meant the tablet contained only 10.5 grams of actives. So, in a little over a day, there would be nothing there to work with.

Most engineers and professionals need products they can rely upon, and HVAC maintenance people demand the same. It is irritating to have to make an emergency call to a unit to handle an overflow, or having complaints on odors, and other service related matters.

In 1986 our company made a major breakthrough in this area. This was the development of the first true controlled-release condensate pan treatment. Unlike old treatments used without consistent results for decades, PanGuard and Algae Guard makes a remarkable leap forward. They slowly release ingredients over a 3 to 6 months period of time. This lays on the table what every manager wants: consistency and predictability of results.

Time after time, it works. No surprises and no extra labor. In fact, since the products are only placed in the condensate pan when filters are changed, there is no extra work involved.

To obtain this optimum performance, we determined the condensate flow of water from each tonnage of air conditioning unit. Next we oversized Algae Guard and PanGuard to insure that no matter what conditions would occur, the products always work.

Because upsets seem to occur when one least expects them, we went that extra step by being conservative in our controlled release products: they were engineered to handle all the water from a certain tonnage of air conditioner when that unit was running 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, at a relative humidity of 100%. No other manufacturer of condensate collection treatment products engineers a product to these high standards. With these products, failure is not an option!

Our EPA registered Algae Guard product contains 32% active ingredients as shown on its box label. Users are encouraged to check our box label with other timed-released products to see the difference quality engineering makes.

There is only one other polymer-based product on the market similar to ours; it uses our old 1986 polymer matrix.

Good, but in 2007 after years of further research and development, we upgraded our system by synthesizing a brand new timed-released molecule that is much sturdier, and more efficient at the controlled release of working ingredients. This coupled with our 32% active ingredients in the case of Algae Guard increases its desirability over a 20% active, lower performance polymer molecule.

In this case, bigger is better. Upgrading our products continuously insures our customers only get the latest in technology as we develop it.

CRT Time Released Products

Lynn Burkhart is the founder and president of Controlled Release Technologies, Inc. located in Shelby, North Carolina. More information about the company, and its products, can be found at http://www.cleanac.com and by calling (800) 766-9057.

Technical Corner: Is Bigger Really Better? Pt.1

When it comes to many things air conditioning systems, bigger is not always better. Take the sizing of an air handler for instance.

Many instances have been uncovered where architects and mechanical engineering firms oversized the air handler. For example, where the conditions called for a 50 ton unit, 75 tons or higher was installed. Bigger must be better was the supposed reasoning.

Unfortunately, this mistake costs the building owners over 20 million dollars in the end and nationwide infamy. Why?

Air handlers not only must provide adequate cooling, but also reduce the amount of moisture or humidity of the inside air. When the units were started up, cooling was almost immediate. However, the cooling capacity of the units was so large that the unit was able to come on only for a few minutes before it shut off again.

As a result, little moisture was removed and the humidity levels remained high. In Florida, where high humidity is a fact of everyday life, moisture removal is vital. Normally in air conditioners where the air moisture condenses upon cooling coils (similar to the condensation on the outside of a glass of water you may drink in a restaurant), and moisture in the air is removed.

What is known by all indoor air quality professionals is that humidity levels over 60% are conducive to fungal (mold) growth. In this Florida case above, moisture was not removed ever from the air. A building occupant, after the new building was condemned and occupants evacuated, stated “It was either hot and damp or cold and damp in the building. But it was always damp.”

Owners were confronted with bulldozing down the marble enclosed building and re-­‐building it from scratch, or trying to repair the existing building.

There are other areas however where bigger is better. Handling mold issues in the HVAC condensate collection pan is one of them. My next blog will address this important factor.

Please do not hesitate to leave your comments or testimonials below.

Lynn Burkhart is the founder and president of Controlled Release Technologies, Inc. located in Shelby, North Carolina. More information about the company, and its products, can be found at http://www.cleanac.com and by calling (800) 766-9057.

Technical Corner:How Professionals Work Smarter Not Harder on HVAC …. Part 2

Proper maintenance of HVAC air handlers helps the CFO or finance head, as well as occupants.   Saving money every month by getting the same amount of cooling for less money makes sense.  Certainly, if another provider of electricity came by the office and offered a 10% discount on electricity purchased by them, any owner would jump on the opportunity.

The reason why maintaining coils properly isn’t done is only because management does not realize the extent of funds they are currently wasting by cutting back on man-power for coil cleaning.  If it appears that it is too time-consuming, then other more technological methods developed over the past decade need to be looked at.

In our previous blog, we talked about how biofilms form on surfaces. Biofilms are interesting, mostly because they seldom are noticed and the average person is just unaware of them.

Indeed, they form on almost all surfaces and are not unique to HVAC interiors.

HVAC interiors offer something that most surfaces don’t see however, and that is a temperature controlled environment with moisture, darkness, and a constant supply of nutrients  from small particles in the air being pushed across the coils in amounts of millions of cubic feet each day.

We explained how technical studies by ASHRAE show coils within one year of cleaning are responsible for up to 20% or more increased energy costs than newly cleaned coils.  Since the HVAC energy use accounts for over 50% of a typical buildings electrical expenditures,  having clean coils would make for a much better bottom line in terms of energy usage.

But coil cleaning to remove the physical buildup of dirt and other contaminants may not make sense if manpower is on short supply, and it isn’t worth it, even with spending more energy dollars, to clean the coils often.   But there is a solution.

As most of you know, Controlled Release Technologies spends tens of thousands each year on research and development.  Since our founding in 1986 we have brought out more than a dozen innovative products that the marketplace had no access to prior to our development.  A major accomplishment was our development of First Strike MicroCoat ®.

First Strike MicroCoat ® keeps coils continuously clean for a year or more at a time without maintenance intervention or cleaning.   It was, and is today, a major breakthrough in technology.  We developed this product to handle concerns by many of our customers over odor control, and especially wasted energy they saw by using dirty insulated coils.

Another of your advantages with tis product is  it is water-based and  free of noxious petroleum products.   This makes it more environmentally se to use while at the same time being significantly more cost effective by removing extra labor for cleaning while decreasing your monthly energy bill.

Please do not hesitate to leave your comments or testimonials below.

Lynn Burkhart is the founder and president of Controlled Release Technologies, Inc. located in Shelby, North Carolina. More information about the company, and its products, can be found at http://www.cleanac.com and by calling (800) 766-9057.

Technical Corner: How Professionals Work Smarter Not Harder on HVAC …. Part I

Maintaining HVAC air handlers to obtain low cost of operations can be quite time consuming and use up available man-hours.  Management allocation of labor has always been minimal over the past few decades, but now restraints on hiring have been even more noticeable.  The result?

Many departments have cut back on necessary coil cleaning, keeping water collection pans free of bacteria and other microbials, and in some cases choosing to put off changing air filters.   While on the surface these things seem okay to cut back on, the actual fact is they cause more problems than they solve.  Of course the cutbacks seem to provide the owner with more cash flow.  But this is surely not the case.

Cutting back on maintenance items as above costs management more money rather than less.


A recent ASHRAE Journal reported a study that was completed in New York on HVAC units that had been cleaned a year previous.  What they found was to some surprising; others in the HVAC field might have considered the ASHRAE findings intuitive or expected.

Several air handlers had their coils cleaned after a one-year period.  The study found that the clean coils exhibited an energy savings of up to 20% or more than those coils that had been cleaned only one year before.   For several air handlers, this amounts to wasted financial expenditures of tens of thousands per year.   Balance that against keeping the coils clean throughout the year and one can see that saving a few man-hours does not really compare to this kind of wasted money.

The main culprit is biofilms.   Biofilms are very thin layers, in most instances, of bacteria and other microbes.  They tend to be sticky.   They grow on any surface, and growth is enhanced by the presence of high moisture and nutrients.

Because they are sticky, when any dirt or organic matter bypasses the filter or comes through the filter, the matter impacts upon the biofilms and may stick to the film.   Since the overwhelming amount of surface area is the cooling and heating coils, particles that impact and stick on the biofilms on these surfaces insulates the coils even further.   It is known that biofilms alone provide the same insulating affect as 5 times that amount of scale.

This is why coils that are apparently “clean” are financial detriments.  Knowing this, is it really smart to cut back on spending an hour or so cleaning coils?

But that is really only the start of the issues.   We all know bacteria and fungus create VOC’s or odors.  In many cases, these can be quite obnoxious.   Most managers might believe that since the air handlers are out of sight of tenants, no one really cares if they are in fairly good health.   We know of one air handler right now in the North East whose tenants in the building (lawyers by the way) have been complaining of odors for quite a few months.

Not withstanding all of the above, there lies another problem, and that is equipment sustainability.  How does having a clean HVAC unit related to the expected lifespan of the unit?  Most air handlers may cost anywhere from $25,000 to well over $100,000 to replace.   In the vast majority of cases, the owner does not hear this news until the unit is within a few weeks or months of replacement.   This can come about by the management not periodically inspecting the units for corrosion and fouled coils.

In the next blog, handling the above in a realistic way that makes sense will be reviewed. Please feel free to comment, we love to hear from our readers.

Lynn Burkhart is the founder and president of Controlled Release Technologies, Inc. located in Shelby, North Carolina. More information about the company, and its products, can be found at http://www.cleanac.com and by calling (800) 766-9057.