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Winter is the best time to service or replace commercial/industrial air-cons

Under-serviced air-conditioning units can develop problems, which go unnoticed during winter, says Erik Jordaan, director at BT-SA.

Did you know that winter is in fact the best time for commercial and industrial users to perform routine maintenance and servicing of air-conditioning units?

According to Erik Jordaan, Director at BT-SA, unless the unit also functions as a heater, thus providing year-round climate control, many commercial and industrial customers are unaware of the benefits of doing maintenance on their air-conditioning units at this time of year. "These units work overtime in the summer, so come winter they're more than due for some routine and preventative maintenance," says Jordaan.

It is a common issue that under-serviced air-conditioning units can develop problems, which go unnoticed during winter, so by the time the unit is called into service in summer, the problem has become far greater than it needed to be.

Refrigerant leaks are a case in point. If left unchecked, a small leak that would be detected via routine servicing can develop into a large leak that will cost the company money from both excessive energy and refrigerant use.

BT-SA recommends these routine winter air-conditioner maintenance checks:

* A thorough, point-to-point inspection and testing of the entire system, to identify worn components, refrigerant leaks and blockages, to check sensors, electrical connections and contacts, and to top-up refrigerant.

Eco tip: Refrigerant leaks are harmful to the environment.

* Changing filters. Filters are changed frequently in summer, but the practice is often neglected in winter, because users don't take into account that air and dust are always passing through the system, whether it's running or not. Clogged filters mean allergens will run rampant, adversely affecting employees with allergies.

Eco tip: A dirty filter makes your air-con system use more energy.

Apart from maintenance, winter is also the ideal time to replace your old inefficient air-conditioning unit with new equipment. As Jordaan points out: "The best time to replace an air-conditioner is when its operation is not critical to the business. The other benefit of doing so now is the greater availability of stock and the labour required to install it."

During the sweltering summer months, skilled air-con technicians are working overtime to perform emergency repairs, making labour both scarce and more expensive as a result of the high demand.

Replacing old air-conditioning equipment affords businesses the opportunity to opt for more energy-efficient, environmentally friendly solutions.

Features of an eco-friendly air-conditioning system:

* Energy efficiency. A truly eco-friendly air-conditioner will deliver above-average energy efficiency, meaning less electricity is used to run the system. The most eco-friendly air-conditioners are those that use DC inverter technology.

* Sufficient cooling capacity. There's no one-size-fits-all solution. Make sure the system you choose has the capacity to optimally cool the applicable area. A too-small system will work overtime, using more energy and placing excessive demands on working components.

* R410A refrigerant. The latest inverter units use this eco-friendly refrigerant, which is chlorine-free and does not deplete the ozone like refrigerants of the past.

In the context of industrial and commercial air-conditioning, the environmental impact and sustainability of a unit should always be key considerations when choosing a cooling system. "When upgrading a cooling system for your business, your final choice should not merely ensure compliance with environmental regulations, but also from the perspectives of corporate social responsibility and long-term cost-savings," says Jordaan. "BT-SA's own, deep commitment to the environment is the primary driver in our delivery of eco-friendly, energy-aware, intelligent cooling systems."

Winter is all but here, so it's time to schedule that air-conditioner maintenance, replacement and/or installation. For businesses that have yet to choose an air-conditioning provider, BT-SA recommends they do their due diligence before choosing a partner in clean cooling; taking into account such factors as experience, history, product range, and customer recommendations, among others.

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Tanya Olckers
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