Keeping Your Home Cool during the Sweltering, Summer Months

Opening A Small Business In The Sunny Southwest? What Are Your Best HVAC Options?

by Anthony Graves

If you've recently launched your first business venture in the Southwestern United States, you may find that your overhead costs have quickly become your largest expense, especially if you began operating during the spring or early summer and have dealt with high cooling bills each month since then. Fortunately, there are a few relatively simple changes you can make to your building that will improve its energy efficiency and place less of a cooling burden on your air conditioner, saving you money and extending its usable life. Read on to learn more about the HVAC options that can improve energy efficiency and help you keep your overhead expenses as low as possible without sacrificing customer (or staff) comfort.

What factors should you consider when looking into your business's cooling options?

Although parts of the Southwest can become chilly during the winter months, the bulk of your HVAC dollars (and efforts) are likely to be spent improving your air conditioning and dehumidification systems. With daytime temperatures in the Southwest often reaching 125 degrees Fahrenheit from April through September, and falling to a balmy average of 70 degrees during the fall and winter months, a working air conditioner is a must for you, your staff, and any walk-in customers or clients.

When investigating an HVAC system, you'll want to put some thought into where most customers and workers tend to congregate. Often, installing an extra exhaust fan or air conditioning vent in a packed area (like a waiting room) can improve comfort without requiring your air conditioner to work any harder. Meanwhile, employees who spend their time sitting or standing in a hot part of the building may benefit from targeted "cooling zones" near them that can provide cold, fresh air at a moment's notice.

In addition to putting some thought into your HVAC system itself, you'll also want to consider the other efficiencies (or inefficiencies) present within your building. For example, many business owners have chosen to upgrade to automatic or revolving doors to help stem the amount of heat (often known as latent heat) that enters the building each time a door is opened. By blocking most latent heat sources, you'll be able to reduce the load on your HVAC system and ensure your employees and customers remain comfortable without increasing your business's electricity bill.  

What HVAC systems are ideal for businesses in hot regions?

If you're dissatisfied with your building's existing HVAC system and would like to upgrade, one eco-friendly and efficient (although initially pricey) option is a geothermal heat pump. This heat pump operates by extracting heat from the earth's crust, which remains at a constant cool temperature (even in the Southwest), instead of using a compressor or refrigerant to cool warmed air drawn in from the outside. This geothermal cooling process uses much less energy than other types of air conditioners, and many such heat pumps will pay for themselves in the form of reduced energy bills after just a few years of use.

Another cost-effective option that won't require you to purchase an entirely new system is to simply add extra vents and exhaust fans to your existing central air ductwork. Often, particularly if an air conditioner has been replaced after the original ductwork was installed, the ductwork can be inadequate to distribute all the cool air being produced. By adding more ducts and installing a few exhaust fans to remove hot air as it rises to the ceiling, you'll be able to ensure that all the cold air your air conditioner is generating is making its way throughout your building, rather than only collecting in a few select areas.  

For more information and tips, talk with local HVAC contractors, such as those at Actionaire Inc.