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Spotlight on energy efficiency

26 August 2014

According to the Carbon Trust, heating rooms and hot water can account for up to 60% of total energy usage in a business premises. Inefficient ventilation can result in around 30% heat loss in many commercial buildings, and air conditioning can increase energy consumption and associated carbon emissions by up to 100%. Richard Metcalfe, sales director at ICS Cool Energy, explains some of the technologies that can improve energy efficiency

Reducing energy consumption makes good business sense: It saves money, enhances CSR (corporate social responsibility), and helps with environmental efforts. Technologies that will increase efficiencies in any business include: Free cooling, heat recovery, adiabatic cooling, Turbocor technologies, and replacement of harmful refrigerants such as R22.


Free Cooling

Free Cooling is a fast, effective method of using low external air temperatures to cool water used in either industrial temperature control applications or in HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system applications. 


Two options to achieve free cooling are a chiller working alongside an independent free cooler, or a chiller with an integrated free cooling coil. Both show benefits, including system reliability, cost reduction – as the ambient air temperatures save on running costs – and endurance, as there is less wear and tear on the chiller components. 


By using external air, especially with the low ambient temperatures we have in Britain, companies could benefit from a reduction in energy costs of up to 70%. 


Heat recovery

Another method of maximising energy efficiencies is through heat recovery technology. This allows chillers to operate at high efficiencies, whilst collecting and re-using  waste heat to provide heat for central heating or hot water supply, for example. 


Units can cool a facility and recycle waste heat that would otherwise be expelled into the atmosphere. Recently we worked with a health club operator that used the technology to recycle and use the heat expelled from the air conditioning, to heat the club’s swimming pool. 


Adiabatic cooling

Where businesses consume vast amounts of water for a variety of processes, it is important to seek alternative cooling solutions to reduce water. Both adiabatic coolers and cooling towers can be used in the process of environmental and process temperature control, yet they are very different in their operation, cost and physical footprint. 


Adiabatic coolers are designed to pre-cool the air inlet stream into the cooling coils; cooling towers rely solely on latent heat removal during the evaporation of water for its heat dissipation. Adiabatic coolers consume 0.0025% of the water in comparison to cooling towers, as well as having a third of overall running costs. 


The coolers are designed to pulse as often as is necessary, reducing water consumption and running costs. A UV system is supplied as standard which provides additional protection to further ensure that the mains water feed supplied to adiabatic cooler is clean, killing 99.99+% of bacteria, as legionella is often a concern with cooling towers.  



Turbocor technology is another way of saving money by creating more energy efficient processes. The turbocor compressor energy-saving technology operates without the use of oil, using digital rotor speed control and magnetic levitation, and allows for high partial load efficiencies to be achieved. 

Even at very low conditions, buildings’ energy requirements can be matched due to the inlet guide vanes which extend the compressor’s operational limits. I believe the technology can offer 60% higher ESEER values compared to traditional scroll or screw units, and reduced noise and sound emissions. 


Refrigerants – R22 phase out 

Our turbocor unit can be used as a replacement for units that still contain the R22 refrigerant. It will soon be illegal to use HCFCs to service RAC equipment, so we strongly advise businesses to consider which option they will pursue to ensure they are not caught out next year. 


The most energy efficient option is to replace with systems such as free cooling, heat recovery or Turbcor; the short term fix will be to convert to a new type of oil or additional compressor; and the third sees companies leaving the system in place and dealing with the consequences if units fail after 1st January 2015.


Whilst there are various options to ensure businesses remain compliant, it is important that a method is selected soon to avoid any pitfalls towards the beginning of next year.”