So how can an older church be really energy ‘green’? The standard principles apply that we use at home or in business:
- Caulk and seal doors and windows.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact LED bulbs.
- Replenish old insulation.
- Install and program thermostats to increase energy efficiency.
- Replace single pane with double pane windows where possible.
- Investigate the heating and cooling system and build an ‘occupy – unoccupy’ schedule.
Taking a look at Church Heating and Cooling
How is your existing church HVAC system performing? Here are some questions to ask:
- What is the age of the system?
- Is it outdated and less efficient than newer systems?
- Is the warranty still in effect?
- How well has it been maintained?
What IS Involved in Maintaining a Church HVAC System?
First, rather than have a general maintenance man at your church take care of the heating and cooling equipment, consider engaging a qualified HVAC contractor to do seasonal tune-ups. This is something we at Abel do on a regular basis for several churches in the Western Twin Cities metro area. Click here to see our Performance Programs. This is invaluable when it comes to preventing breakdowns in equipment and the loss of heat or cooling at the worst possible times. This could interrupt or interfere with a worship service, a wedding, funeral, etc. And the breakdown might have been prevented if our technician discovered the problem ahead of time.
Next, be sure the air filters are replaced on a regular basis. The accumulated dirt, dust and debris in a filter can make your system fans work harder and reduce airflow. Plus, this causes over-heating of critical expense components like heat exchangers and compressors.
Be sure the evaporator and condenser coils on your heat pump, air-conditioner, or chiller are clean. Built up dirt will inhibit heat transfer. Also, by keeping them clean, you save energy.
Get old valves and steam traps repaired. These can waste hundreds of dollars and are low-cost parts.
Leaky ducts are one of the biggest contributors to cooling (and heating) loss in a building. Inspect these for leakage or damaged insulation.
When Considering a New System
Today’s new heating and cooling products have advanced significantly in design and efficiency. Here are a few things to consider:
- What is the engineering design of the structure?
- How can a system be designed that won’t take away from the beauty of the architecture inside and out?
- Will major structural design changes weaken the integrity of the building?
- Where and how will ducting be installed if needed?
- Does the church funding permit an extensive installation?
- Can a system be implemented that will provide good heating and cooling, without making too much noise during quiet worship and prayer sessions?
Don’t select over-sized equipment. This increases the cost of installation and the operation of the equipment. At Abel, we are happy to make recommendations based on the size and architectural structure of your place of worship. There are sets of load calculations we can determine for your HVAC needs.
Compare prices by having Abel provide a quote and specifications for both standard-efficiency and high-efficiency units.
For areas such as the sanctuary space, and facilities with warehouses and garages, consider installing radiant heating. This method warms objects instead of the air, and requires less fuel. It is also useful for warming exterior areas, such as patios and waiting areas.
The air-conditioning at the local Grace Apostolic Church, consisted of two small window units. They were noisy, and unable to handle the humidity on hot humid Minnesota summer days. To meet the needs of the 100 – 200 parishioners, we installed two Carrier Horizontal 4 Ton HP Under-Ceiling Heat Pump Systems. They are completely duct free, quiet, energy efficient and inexpensive to operate. Now the congregation enjoys a noise-free, comfortable, worship service.
Another consideration with any building is how to handle seldom used or intermittently used areas. The question we often hear is: “When we hold an activity in one of the rooms, it’s costing us money to heat the entire building. How can we avoid this?”
Zoning systems can solve this problem. When the space is needed, such as meeting rooms, it is already heated when people arrive, and lowered when they leave.
We recently completed installing air-conditioning in a 170 year-old church building. (Top photo and below) Working with architectural engineers, we came up with a plan to use the existing Oculus. This is the circular opening, or the apex of a dome. Now air is circulated through these for supply and return of the cooled air. The new ducting is installed in the bell tower seen here.
Ultimately, how ‘green’, comfortable, and efficient is your place of worship? Cutting costs and adding to a healthier environment is worth the effort in calling for an evaluation and considering the things mentioned above. Call us at 952-472-COOL (2665) or Contact Us