BRADENTON, FLA.—At a time when energy costs have reached an all time high, savvy hotel and condo owners are finding highly effective ways to conserve energy and save money. By installing constant airflow regulators in bathroom and kitchen exhaust vents, owners and operators are able to accurately and automatically control the amount of heated or conditioned air that is constantly blown out of their buildings.
While having the airflow automatically regulated improves the indoor air quality and enables the use of smaller high-efficiency fans, the greatest savings comes from the reduced load on a facility’s heating and cooling systems. Constant airflow regulators are inexpensive (comparable to a manual damper after balancing), require no power to operate, and they are easy to install.
Some properties are seeing complete return on investment in less than six months. Having automatic airflow regulation is an easy way to ensure building code ventilation requirements are effectively met. Marc Zuluaga, with the New York-based building systems consulting firm Steven Winter Associates, said, “We conducted a one year energy study on a project with the ducts sealed and the constant airflow regulators installed and saw a more than 25 percent reduction in heating energy use in a nine-story New Jersey apartment building.”
Mold Can Become a Problem
Insufficient ventilation can result in excessive moisture, which can cause mold to grow in walls and behind the vinyl wallpaper that is often used in hotels. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation reported complaints regarding mold infestation are the fastest growing complaint by their lodging division.
The other significant benefit to using a self-balancing device is that it can adjust for and correct “stack effect” in tall building systems. Stack Effect is a common challenge for hotels and condominiums whereas the difference in temperatures inside a building versus outside causes the ventilation system to go severely out of balance. Too much air is drawn from some floors while other floors do not receive enough ventilation. Stack effect can also cause cross contamination where stale air is drawn from one floor and forced back into another. Constant airflow regulators can correct stack effect by automatically adjusting to the changes in static pressure so that energy is not wasted and optimum indoor air quality is maintained.
Constant airflow regulators are being installed worldwide in response to the global demand to reduce building energy consumption. Constant airflow regulators come in square and round configurations and can be used to regulate airflow of return, supply or exhaust duct. American ALDES provides an energy savings estimator program to help determine the potential savings from automatically regulating ventilation systems; the energy estimator program can be downloaded for free at www.americanaldes.com.