Commercial HVAC systems—whether they’re composed of heating, cooling, or ventilation components—often require a significant upfront investment. 

The benefits of such an investment, however, can be realized immediately. Chief among these benefits is increased energy efficiency, an improvement that can reduce HVAC system operating cost for the entire life of the equipment in question. 

When we work with commercial customers, we like to be able to give them an idea as to how much money they can expect to save in energy costs every month by updating and upgrading their HVAC system. Once they have this figure, all it takes is a fairly simple equation to figure out just how long it will take before the capital expense of the HVAC system is recouped due to reduced energy bills. 

How HVAC Efficiency Translates into Lower Cost of Ownership

According to Carrier, one of the most respected names in the commercial HVAC industry, heating, air conditioning, and ventilation accounts for as much as 60% of overall commercial building energy consumption

This means that any reduction in the amount of energy required to produce the same amount of heating or cooling is going to significantly chip away at the money that goes out the door every month. 

So, why not just set your sights on the most energy-efficient HVAC system you can afford, and start saving as much money as possible as quickly as possible? 

It’s not that simple, and the reason is because the air conditioner, furnace, or ventilator itself is just one part of the equation. 

HVAC Best Practices 

In addition to upgrading an outdated or obsolete HVAC system, there are other best practices that play into how much money is saved every month on energy bills. 

They include: 


  • Implementing energy auditing solutions. Building automation has come a long way in the past few decades. Areas of low energy efficiency that used to be a mystery can now be identified and resolved quickly with a little effort.
  • Conducting preventative maintenance according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. This could be the single most important best practice used to reduce energy costs for commercial buildings.
  • Making use of programmable thermostats and other ‘smart’ technologies. Commercial properties stand to gain enormous benefits when they deploy smart devices that take on the responsibility of using energy only when it’s needed.
  • Using Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC systems. VRF systems are able to dynamically send refrigerant to areas of the building where it’s needed the most, optimizing how much energy is spent by commercial compressors in the process. 


These are just a few examples of the actions that can be taken by commercial property owners to squeeze the absolute most amount of money out of their new HVAC system. Taking steps like these will shorten the amount of time it takes for a new commercial boiler, air conditioner, or ventilation system to pay for itself.

The Almighty SEER Rating

Virtually all commercial AC and heat pump equipment has something called a ‘SEER’ rating, or a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. commercial hvac system 2This ratio starts at 14, which is the lowest allowable efficiency rating determined by the US government. 

A SEER rating is arrived at by dividing the cooling capacity of an air conditioner or heat pump by the amount of electricity it uses. 

More cooling with less electricity equals a higher SEER rating. 

The most energy-efficient commercial AC systems in the world have SEER ratings in the mid to high 20’s, and the higher the rating, the more expensive the system will be, generally speaking. 

Older air conditioners can have SEER ratings as low as 10 or even lower. Replacing these systems with high-efficiency solutions can often reduce cooling costs by as much as 50% or more. 

An Investment in the Future

Let’s presume a new commercial AC unit is going to cost $25,000. 

This new AC unit could be replacing an older one with a SEER score of only 10. 

If the older AC system cost the owner $7,500 a year to operate, and the new system reduced this cost by 50% ($3,750/year), the money saved every year would be $3,750. 

$25,000 divided by $3,750 is about seven. So, it’s realistic to expect that this new commercial AC installation would pay for itself in about seven years. 

Remember that every commercial HVAC upgrade is unique, and not everyone is going to enjoy a huge, 50% reduction in cooling costs. 

The best way to learn how much you could save and how long it might take for your new commercial HVAC system to pay for itself is to contact Front Range HVAC, today.