Posted: 3/19/2024

Air conditioning can take up a big chunk of your summer operating budget. Take these steps to optimize system performance and save money. By preparing your cooling system now, you can save money and stay cool in the coming summer months.


Air conditioning takes a big chunk out of your summer operating budget, accounting for nearly 15% of total annual electricity use in a typical commercial building. By taking steps to ensure that your cooling system and your facility are operating at peak efficiency, you'll stay cool and realize some hot savings.

Optimizing system performance

Maintenance, combined with small upgrades, will help ensure that your cooling system is ready to handle the hot, humid days of summer.

Maintain your system. Winter can be hard on rooftop air conditioning units and other outdoor system components. Have your air conditioning system cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional before the start of the cooling season. Check air filters monthly and replace them if needed.

Seal ducts. Leaky duct systems can result in energy losses of 15% to 30%, increasing cooling costs and reducing comfort. Test ductwork with fan pressure or flow meters to identify the extent of leakage. Seal accessible ducts with mastic tape. Hire a qualified contractor if you suspect a problem.

Install economizers. Economizers bring in outside air to provide free cooling. Connected to the outdoors, an economizer is comprised of a sensor and a damper. When outdoor temperature and humidity levels are right, the damper opens and brings in outside air. Economizers are most effective in moderate climates.

Upgrade with heat pumps

If your cooling system is more than 15 years old or in need of repair, now is the perfect time to consider upgrading to high-efficiency geothermal or air-source heat pumps. Heat pumps move heat inside or outside of buildings to provide energy-efficient, year-round comfort.

Since heat pumps move heat rather than create it (as in traditional fossil-fueled heating systems) they can offer efficiencies of up to 300% or more. Heat pumps also offer excellent humidity control and produce no onsite emissions, making your place of business more comfortable and healthier.

Around your facility

Cooling efficiency doesn't stop at the air vents. There are plenty of things you can do around your facility to save energy this summer.

Adjust temperatures. Use building automation controls to adjust indoor temperatures to accommodate your hours of operation or occupancy schedule. This is the simplest and most cost-effective method for controlling cooling costs.

Circulate the air. Circulating air fans reduce the need for air conditioning by making people feel cooler. Large ceiling fans are particularly effective in circulating air throughout a space. In some cases, using a ceiling fan allows you to raise the thermostat four degrees with no loss in comfort.

Weatherize. Air leaks reduce the effectiveness of your cooling system, costing you money. Check for air leaks around doors and windows and seal with caulking or weatherstripping. Make sure your building is insulated according to levels recommended in ASHRAE 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings or your local energy code.

With proper maintenance and timely upgrades, you can improve cooling system efficiency, save money and enhance the comfort of your facility.