With the price of fuel hitting the headlines, what does that mean for those in business? Unlike households there is no Ofgem price cap to protect businesses, and out of contract rates have risen by 67% since August. In this blog we look at the practical areas you can look at to keep fuel consumption at a minimum whilst battling increasing fuel prices.
Why have fuel prices increased?
According to the BBC “A worldwide squeeze on energy supplies has pushed the price of gas up to unprecedented levels” due to pressure on supplies after a cold winter in Europe and a relatively windless summer making it difficult to generate wind energy. In addition there has been increased demand from Asia and wholesale prices have risen even higher following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which is the world’s largest natural gas exporter.
As a business owner, what can you do?
1. Regular servicing & preventative maintenance
This is possibly the most important step to ensure well looked after HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) systems.
Keeping up with servicing allows our engineers to diagnose any issues or faults with your machine before they become serious. It also gives them an opportunity to keep up with any small maintenance tasks to ensure that your system keeps on working to its fullest potential and most effectively, especially with the recent increasing fuel prices.
If your system has ductwork, this should be inspected by a professional every few years for obstructions and blockages. Over time, the ductwork will accumulate a thick layer of debris that will obstruct the airflow and put a strain on the system’s components, weakening the system and causing problems. This debris can also contain pathogens, microbes and dust mites which will circulate through the system’s airflow, creating an unsanitary environment for workers.
As well as regular maintenance from professional engineers, there a few steps you can take yourself to improve the lifespan of your machines.
Replace air filters & keep air ducts clean
The air filters in your system are responsible for the flow of warm and cool air. If the filters become too congested with dust and dirt, it can impact how effectively the system works. It can also cause problems internally as the system fights against the clogged filters to push out the air, which can overwork the system and cause costly damages.
Air filters should be replaced every 90 days or so, or possibly more frequently if the system operates in a dusty environment like a factory or warehouse. Dust trapped in the system can also cause the particles to be circulated through the air, which can exacerbate breathing conditions like asthma. So it’s important for the health of your workers that dirty filters are regularly replaced. If you have a reusable filter, they can be gently cleaned with a cloth and some soap and water. Just make sure you are checking the filter every month and responding to dust build-up accordingly.
When it comes to air ducts keeping them clean is important to reduce the chance of mould build up, dust, risk of allergies and loss of efficiency. We recommend getting your air ducts professionally cleaned every three to five years depending on the nature of your business.
Clear the vents & keep a clean work environment
One of the problems that can affect your HVAC system is contaminants finding their way into your heating or cooling systems such as dust and dirt. These contaminants can lead to the system shorting out or failing completely. Keeping the area around your HVAC system, and the system itself clean can be an essential part of extending its lifespan.
Dust also builds up around the vents, and this can cause more blockage problems and a reduction in how well the system operates as it tries to push the air past all the dust to circulate around the space. Make sure you regularly vacuum the vents to prevent a dust build-up from obstructing the airflow. The vents are also an excellent way to check that the airflow is working efficiently and hasn’t weakened. If this is the case, bring in a qualified engineer to take a look.
It’s also important to remember that the outside unit of your system is just as crucial as the inside components, and this part of the system needs regular maintenance too. You should make sure that there is no debris around the system, like tree branches, shrubs and leaves. This is so that the system can draw in fresh air from all sides and isn’t being obstructed by debris.
If the system is looking dirty, wipe it down on the outside and inside. You can even use a gentle spray from a hose to wash it off and keep the system clean and clear of dirt.
Don’t wait until the system fails to call in a professional to take a look, that’s how you end up with a freezing cold or hot and humid workplace and employees unable to get on with their work. By having someone come in once or twice a year to check the system, you ensure that problems will be caught and dealt with before they escalate. Regular maintenance will also ensure your system operates at peak capacity, keeping it energy efficient and expanding the overall lifespan of the system.
We offer a nationwide service and repair for all models of industrial HVAC systems. With one of our service and repair packages, a fully qualified engineer will be sent out to you every year to make sure your HVAC system is in good working order.
2. Using your HVAC system efficiently
It goes without saying that if you have your heating on the highest setting with your windows wide open, your system is going to be working hard unnecessarily. This can cause issues, as the general wear and tear on a machine is going to be increased on one that is working more than it needs to. In order to avoid this, ensure that you use your system efficiently and effectively by cutting out any sources of drafts, only using your system when you need to and keeping it at a comfortable temperature.
3. Have you considered other products?
Other products to consider for your workspace to help with increasing fuel prices are;
- Air curtains which create an invisible air barrier over a doorway reducing the amount of heat lost through open doors. Air curtains work by blocking incoming cold air and at the same time prevent the loss of warm air from inside the building.
- Destratification fans which are a fantastic addition in your space to manage the temperature effectively whilst cutting down operating costs of your existing heating systems. Due to their design destratification fans evenly disperse the temperature, improving comfort levels and can quickly heat up any size space without overworking your HVAC system.
4. With increasing fuel prices, is it time for a new efficient model?
If your HVAC system has come to the end of its life cycle, it might be time to review a new model for your heating and cooling needs. Our qualified engineers can visit your premises to assess your requirements, recommending the most energy efficient products at a time when increasing fuel prices are sadly becoming the norm.