Reduce heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) costs in your business

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) can account for up to 50% of your energy bill.

It’s often the largest contributor to energy bills for commercial buildings, office buildings, retail, supermarkets and hospitality businesses.

There are ways you can reduce the amount of energy you use to heat and cool your business. Upgrading your heating, ventilation and cooling system can:

  • reduce your energy bill
  • reduce maintenance costs
  • improve work conditions for your employees
  • lower your carbon footprint.

The figures on this page come from our Boosting Business Productivity program. We worked with more than 300 businesses to explore their energy use and minimise their energy costs.

Assess your current use

The easiest way to determine whether heating, ventilation and air conditioning is a large contributing factor to your energy bills is to seek advice and knowledge from other businesses and industry groups.

Read about businesses like yours >

The best way to get a clear idea of what’s using the most energy in your business is by getting an energy audit. An energy consultant can review your energy bills and the way your business operates to identify where you’re losing energy and what you can do about it.

Find an energy auditor near you >

Ways to reduce your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) consumption

1. Regularly maintain and repair your system

When you don’t regularly maintain your heating and cooling system, it can increase your energy consumption up to 30%.

Regularly maintaining your system will not only reduce the cost of your energy bills, but also make your system last longer.

Arrange routine maintenance with a qualified technician.

Regularly check:

  • valves are operating correctly
  • insulation isn’t damaged
  • outside grills aren’t blocked
  • fan belts are well lubricated
  • for refrigerant levels and gas leaks
  • for air leaks in your ducting.

Benefits

On average, businesses that regularly maintain and repair their system:

  • spent $100,000 on implementation
  • saved more than $40,000 annually
  • took less than 2.5 years to pay back
  • saved 150 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

2. Install meters to your system

Install meters to your system to track its energy use.

The meter can show you how much energy the system uses and when. This data can be analysed to see if the equipment is working efficiently. You may find you can downsize equipment or determine when it needs maintenance.

Benefits

On average, businesses that regularly maintain and repair their system:

  • spent less than $60,000 on implementation
  • saved more than $20,000 annually
  • took less than 2.5 years to pay back
  • saved 100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

3. Insulate and draught-proof your building

Insulating and draught-proofing your building can lower your heating and cooling bills by up to 40%.

It also makes your building more comfortable for your employees.

Significantly reduce your energy costs by making sure doors and windows are shut when you’re using your heating and cooling system.

Benefits

On average, businesses that regularly maintain and repair their system:

  • spent $100,000 on implementation
  • saved more than $40,000 annually
  • took less than 2.5 years to pay back
  • saved 150 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

4. Install timers and operational controls to your system

Timers and operational controls will switch your system on and off for you. This prevents you from using energy to heat or cool a space that you aren’t using.

The most energy efficient way to use your heating and cooling system is by adjusting your thermostat for the season.

Set the thermostat to:

  • 24°C in summer
  • 20°C in winter.

Benefits

On average, businesses that regularly maintain and repair their system:

  • spent less than $30,000 on implementation
  • saved $9000 annually
  • took 3 years to pay back
  • saved more than 60 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

5. Upgrade to a more energy-efficient system

If your system is more than 10 years old, then you’re due for an upgrade.

New heating and cooling systems can be 20–40% more efficient than older ones.

Look for the energy rating label.

Benefits

On average, businesses that regularly maintain and repair their system:

  • spent less than $240,000 on implementation
  • saved more than $30,000 annually
  • took 7 years to pay back
  • saved 120 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually

What you need to know about the refrigerant phase out

Most commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems will contain a refrigerant that is being phased out.

This is because a lot of refrigerants release greenhouse gas that’s significantly contributing to climate change.

Natural refrigerants are much more energy efficient and have no impact on climate change.

The phase out will mean that the synthetic refrigerants available in Australia will decrease over time. Eventually, there will be none left for your heating and cooling system.

This gives you an opportunity to put in new systems.

Synthetic refrigerants that are being phased out are:

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), including R11, R12, R502 and R13: Have been phased out
  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), including R22 and R123: Have been phased out
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), including R134A, R404A, R410A and R507: Was phased out on 1 January 2018
  • Hydrofluoro-olefins (HFOs), including R134A, R404A, R410A and R507

Call a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technician if you need advice

For more information about managing the energy use of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, download the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage guide to HVAC systems (PDF, 4.66MB).

What else can you do?

Get recommendations for an energy upgrade project

Our energy upgrade tool does the hard work for you. It recommends opportunities and funding options, and calculates return on investment for your business.

Use the energy upgrade tool >

Upgrade your system at a discount

You may be eligible for discounted energy-efficiency products and services, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, through the Victorian Energy Upgrade program.

To get started, contact an accredited provider.

Then, you can pay for the remaining cost with energy-specific finance.

Subscribe to our newsletter

We’ll send you the latest sustainability information, tailored for business, including:

  • grants and funding
  • professional opportunities and events
  • energy efficiency and waste avoidance tips to save you money.
* indicates required

Privacy collection statement

Sustainability Victoria collects, uses and discloses your personal information for the purpose of this newsletter and may disclose your information to our business partners for the purpose of providing this service, including to our email marketing service provider, Mailchimp. Mailchimp databases, while stored outside of Australia, are maintained securely by the service provider and are managed subject to Australian privacy legislation requirements. We manage personal information in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and our Privacy statement. If you wish to be removed from our mailing list, have any questions relating to the Privacy statement or wish to seek access to the personal information which Sustainability Victoria holds about you, please contact us in writing addressed to privacy@sustainability.vic.gov.au