How to implement energy-efficient ventilation

A well-functioning ventilation system makes your business premises a pleasant place to work and visit. It also helps cut energy costs. Discover what you can do to make your system as energy efficient as possible.

In 2023, the government expanded the energy efficiency obligation. This means that business owners are required to take all energy-saving measures that can be recouped within five years. You can also save energy and money by being smart and economical with your ventilation system. These practical tips can help you shave 10 to 15% off your energy costs.

1. Install self-regulating vents

Do you make use of natural ventilation, such as by opening your windows? Install self-regulating vents in your window frames. These vents respond to the wind: when the wind hits them, they close a little. When there is little wind, they open a bit more. This way, you get a steady flow of air into your building.

2. Install carbon dioxide and humidity sensors

Your ventilation system does not have to be equally active in every room all day long. If your premises are empty in the evenings and nights, your ventilation system does not have to do as much. You can measure how much work your ventilation system is doing by installing carbon dioxide and humidity sensors. “If there are only three people in the office, carbon dioxide levels will stay quite low. Once more people arrive, your carbon dioxide monitor will register the corresponding increase in CO2 levels and your ventilation system will respond”, climate innovation expert Tijmen Klip at climate agency Hier explains.

If certain business processes produce a lot of humidity, investing in a humidity sensor may be wise. This sensor measures humidity levels in the air. When humidity levels are high, your ventilation system will work harder to balance out the indoor climate. This way, your system will use less energy than if it had to be equally active in all rooms all day long.

3. Ensure proper heat recovery

Do you have a mechanical ventilation system? These systems replace warm air from your building with fresh outside air. That outside air has to be heated first in order to protect the indoor climate. With a heat recovery system, you can heat up the outside air with the warm air leaving your building. As a result, it costs less energy to keep your building at the right temperature. You can also reuse the heat produced by ovens or spray booths, for example, in your heat recovery system.

In summer, it is often warmer outside than inside. The last thing you want is to heat up all the air entering your building. To solve this issue, you can add a bypass to your heat recovery system. “Have the relatively cool indoor air pass the warm outdoor air to cool the air entering your building. Because of the temperature transfer, the air entering your building will be cooler”, Klip explains. During cool summer nights, fresh outside air is allowed to flow straight into your building, lowering the temperature inside. Thanks to this bypass system, it stays cooler inside and you use less energy on air conditioning.

4. Proper calibration and maintenance

Have your ventilation system properly calibrated by a specialist. When the way you use certain spaces changes, have your system recalibrated. Rooms that were once heavily used but are not used anymore need less ventilation.
By regularly servicing your ventilation system, you can keep it running as smoothly as possible. All components and vents have to be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year.

5. To measure is to know

Klip’s biggest ventilation tip? “To measure is to know. Buy a carbon dioxide monitor to find out how well-ventilated your spaces are now. And remember: the biggest cost of ventilation is not the ventilation itself. Heating or cooling the air in your building to optimise the indoor climate is way more expensive.” A good heat recovery system will not only optimise the climate, but also help you cut heating or air conditioning costs.