Is Your Building Losing Its Cool?

If your chiller system is inefficient, imbalanced, or at the end of its service life, it’s costing you money.



Energy costs money. The less efficient a chiller system, the more it costs to operate.

If your chiller system is inefficient, imbalanced, or at the end of its service life, it’s costing you money. But how do you make an inefficient system more efficient? Also, what the heck is a chiller? Read on!

Not just a clever name

A chiller is a piece of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment. The chiller’s job is to remove heat from liquid that runs through the unit. This newly cooled liquid is then moved to air handling units where it draws heat out of the air that moves through the building, cooling spaces. You know that wintry blast of cold air you feel when you go inside on a hot day? Thank your chiller!

What makes a system inefficient?

Maybe your chiller is old. Maybe you have multiple systems—cobbled together over the years—that aren’t working well together. Maybe your chiller wasn’t designed correctly for your demand. Whatever the cause, your inefficient chiller has a huge impact on your budget. If you have one of the problems above, it’s also likely that you’re probably paying more for maintenance than you want. You’ve recognized there’s an issue; what next?

Step 1: Where are we today?

First we need to make sure we know as much about your existing system as possible. You can do an investigation yourself or hire someone to do it for you. No matter who does the digging, they need to evaluate conditions on-site, look at drawings of your building, and figure out the condition of equipment and piping—hidden and exposed. It’s also important to figure out right now the flow, loads, and demand of your system. This first step is critical in making sure we define the problem completely.

Step 2: Where do we want to be?

We’ve talked about the broad goal of increased efficiency, but now it’s time to talk details. How efficient do you want your chillers to be? What loop temperatures do you need in the summer versus the winter? Do they even need to run year-round? How much redundancy do you need? The answers to these questions drive your system design.


Step 3: How do we get there?

Your designer can help you define a realistic goal based on your conditions and budget. Any design solution should incorporate flow meters, match load to demand, offer options for consolidating pumps or replacing equipment, be responsive to your budget, and prioritize solutions.

Step 4: Make it happen!

Now that you’re armed with a list of prioritized action items, the fun begins! Depending on your budget, you might be able to tackle everything at once, or you may have to phase improvements over time. If you are phasing out work, make sure you designer has considered the impact of taking various systems offline and online first.
If you follow the steps outlined above, you’ll find yourself well on your way to a more efficient chiller system that is less expensive to operate and maintain. If you’d like to know more about our investigation and design process or have some questions about your own system, please contact me so we can chat!


Jason Baker
Principal, Mechanical Engineer