An indoor air handling unit with copper pipework.

As winter descends, the imperative to fine-tune Air Handling Units (AHUs) becomes pronounced, ushering in the need to adeptly navigate the unique challenges posed by colder temperatures. Achieving optimal performance during the winter months demands a nuanced understanding of how cold weather influences AHU efficiency and the implementation of strategic adjustments. In this exploration, we embark on a journey through key considerations to maximise AHU efficiency in winter, uncovering effective strategies to gracefully overcome potential challenges.

Understanding the Impact of Cold Weather on AHU Efficiency:

Winter’s plummeting temperatures cast a transformative effect on the efficiency of AHUs. The denseness of cold air subtly alters the dynamics of airflow and heat exchange within the system. Consequently, the AHU may witness a reduction in capacity, an uptick in energy consumption, and potential strain on its components.

Adjusting AHU Setting for Winter Operation:

Temperature Setpoints:

  • Begin the winterization process by scrutinising and adjusting temperature setpoints to align seamlessly with the season’s requirements. Deliberations should weigh considerations for both indoor comfort levels and energy efficiency goals.
  • Fine-tune thermostat settings delicately, striking a harmonious balance between maintaining a comfortable indoor environment and minimising unnecessary heating load.

Airflow Rates:

  • Embark on an assessment of airflow rates, recalibrating them if deemed necessary to gracefully accommodate the denser winter air. This ensures that the AHU can deliver the requisite volume of conditioned air with precision.
  • Implement changes to fan speed or incorporate variable frequency drives (VFDs) to modulate airflow dynamically, responding to real-time heating demands.

Humidity Control

  • Acknowledge the innate dryness of winter air, recognising the crucial role of optimal humidity levels in ensuring occupant comfort and health. Adjust humidification settings judiciously to prevent excessively dry conditions, averting discomfort and potential issues such as static electricity.

Heat Recovery Systems:

  • Harness the latent potential of heat recovery systems, adeptly capturing and reusing heat energy from exhaust air. This not only enhances energy efficiency but also serves as a countermeasure against the heightened heating demands of winter.

Mitigating Potential Challenges:

Preventing Freezing Issues:

  • Undertake a meticulous inspection and, if deemed necessary, upgrade insulation to preempt freezing issues in critical components like coils and condensate lines.
  • Implement anti-freeze measures, such as heat trace systems, strategically positioned to safeguard against freezing and maintain the seamless operation of the AHU.

Monitoring & Predictive Maintenance:

  • Institute a robust monitoring system, diligently tracking the performance of AHUs in real time.
  • Embrace predictive maintenance strategies, addressing potential issues before they burgeon into critical concerns, thus ensuring uninterrupted operation throughout the winter.

Optimising Filter Selection:

  • Acknowledge the heightened levels of particulate matter in winter air. Optimise filter selection judiciously to efficiently capture airborne particles, thereby ensuring and enhancing good indoor air quality.

Energy-Efficient Technologies:

  • Embark on an exploration of cutting-edge, energy-efficient technologies. Consider integrating advancements such as demand-controlled ventilation and sophisticated control algorithms to not just optimise but elevate AHU performance, leading to substantial reductions in energy consumption.

By proactively addressing the impact of cold weather on AHU efficiency and implementing strategic adjustments, you orchestrate an environment where your HVAC system operates at its zenith throughout the winter season. This comprehensive approach extends beyond enhancing occupant comfort, actively contributing to substantial energy savings and the prolonged longevity of your AHU components.