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Variable-frequency Drives (VFDs) in HVAC units currently provide one of the more effective ways organizations can invest in energy efficiency. However, companies just starting to explore this option, or unaware of its savings, need to act fast. Legislation is expected to make VFDs code, which could end the opportunity to receive energy efficiency rebates on the technology before it is mandated 

Depending upon the HVAC system, fan motors or pump motors typically run on either an on-off or two speed setting. When the temperature within a designated space reaches the designated set-point, this signals the HVAC fan to start at full blast and run at full speed until it reaches the desired temperature. This process, although commonly effective in regulating a temperature of a room, can also cause a big spike in electricity demand, particularly when constantly kicking on and off. This process also consumes more energy when the fan is forced to run as fast as it can.

By contrast, VFDs ramp fans or pumps up and down as needed to meet that load within the designated HVAC space. The software in the drive unit coupled to the motor knows when and how much to ramp up or down based upon the configuration of the VFD. The ability to modulate the pump and fan to the most effective speed and duration can result in significant savings.

AMPLIFY™ can Help Drive Value from VFDs

Savings from VFDs in HVAC applications are greatly dependent on the existing system type and can vary from 10% to 50% for fans and upwards of 40% for pumps. Additionally, completing the necessary steps and paperwork to receive the full utility incentive can be challenging without the proper navigation. 

Leidos’ AMPLIFY™ solution helps identify the energy efficiency projects, like installing VFDs, that will garner your facilities the most energy savings, most incentives, or fastest payback. Leidos works directly with VFD contractors to understand the tangible savings their products can deliver and compares it with incentive data from more than 3,000 utilities. The result is an upfront analysis of energy and dollar savings that helps in justifying expenses and prioritizing projects.  

This upfront analysis is especially valuable with the changing codes and rebates for VFDs. Building codes are constantly evolving, and VFDs for HVAC are becoming standard. Once VFDs are required by code, utilities will stop offering incentives for installing them. According to some studies, VFDs in HVAC units are already becoming code in areas with more aggressive energy rules, and we are expecting that to continue across the country as energy codes evolve.

By partnering with Leidos and leveraging AMPLIFY™, organizations can make great strides to become more energy efficient while benefiting from utility company incentives. Download the white paper to learn more.

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Eric Fontaine has more than two decades of management consulting, reporting, and information systems experience. His expertise includes managing energy efficiency call centers and associated processing and technical assessment teams. He provides oversight of the AMPLIFY™ application management platform design. He earned both his MBA and bachelor’s in business from the University of Rochester.