KCF Technologies Blog

Maintenance Practices Have Major Effects on HVAC Energy Consumption

SmartDiagnostics® vibration sensors on a chiller in an university HVAC facility.
A report copyrighted 2012, posted online under "Exhisting Building Retrofits" by the Institute for Building Efficiency ("an initiative of Johnson Controls"), bears the unremarkable title Studies Show: HVAC System Maintenance Saves Energy.  This unattributed brief is interesting in that it charts nine different "Causes of Degraded Energy Performance in HVAC Equipment," and tersely summarizes both the "HVAC Maintenance Solution" and the "Estimated Impact on Chiller Energy Consumption."

The three different studies summarized in the report concluded that the best HVAC maintenance practices could produce energy results of five to 20 percent.  "In contrast," one report concluded, "poor maintenance practices can increase energy use by 30 to 60 percent"--a clear sign not only that are all maintenance practices are not equal, but that some may actively defeat their own purposes of reducing energy use and expense.

The report also painted a picture of the state of current HVAC maintenance practices in the United State today:

"There are three basic approaches to maintaining HVAC systems in buildings:
  1. Reactive maintenance.  Under this management practice, used by 55 percent of companies, HVAC systems run until a problem or failure occurs.  (This strategy is also called run-to-fail maintenance.)
  2. Preventive (or scheduled) maintenance.  This practice used by 31 percent of companies, includes the periodic maintenance of HVAC equipment, generally as prescribed by the manufacturers.
  3. Predictive maintenance.  Practiced by 12 percent of companies, this strategy differs from preventive maintenance by basing maintenance on the actual condition of the machine, rather than on a preset schedule.  Predictive maintenance can be the most cost-effective over the long term, but does require technology infrastructure investments up front."
Though it cautions conventionally that "more studies are needed" to obtain greater precision, it concludes, "The HVAC industry can develop better tools to help building owners and facility managers evaluate the relationship between maintenance costs and energy costs and support investment in the appropriate maintenance approach."

Photo by Christopher Shannon/KCF Technologies.  All rights reserved.


  1. Thanks for such an interesting article here. I was searching for something like that for quite a long time and at last I have found it here.

    Energy Management Services

    1. You're quite welcome. We're glad to have helped bring your searching closer to an end.


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