There are plenty of savings available to improve HVACR operations, but the most critical is maintenance, according to the European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE) director general, Andrea Voigt.

Savings through maintenance, she said, range from a 30 % improvement simply by removing refrigerant leaks to a 25% saving for cleaning and replacing filters on a regular basis.

“Often its the low hanging fruit that isn't even considered,” Voigt said. “There are savings just by minimising temperature lift; there is up to a 4% increase in energy consumption per additional degree of temperature.”

Voigt went on to talk about product design and correct sizing. “If the product is not sized correctly it uses a lot of energy,” she said. “Bigger heat exchangers, temperature set points, correct refrigerant charge size and regular maintenance can all make a difference.

“There are demonstrated savings through good performance at part load conditions. HVAC systems are designed for peak load conditions but 90% of the time run on part load.”

Voigt said to look at energy output modulation, weather compensation, adjustment of water/refrigerant temperature and flow to ensure they are set to actual needs.

“Individual room temperature control, dynamic hydronic balancing, systematic monitoring of operation and changes in the systems, in particular set points, are all factors to consider," she said.

“There are big savings through leak tightness. Besides contributing to direct emissions, refrigerant leakage has a huge impact on energy consumption and cost.”

Voigt recommended reducing refrigerant charge sizes and to get ready for flammable refrigerants.

“The lower the GWP, the more likely the refrigerant will be flammable,” she said.

“It is also important to be aware of the differences between A2L and A3.”

When asked about the European experience, Voigt said that in the beginning the HFC phasedown wasn't taken seriously enough.

“When the first step was introduced nobody anticipated the impact, and prices exploded,” Voigt said.

“Illegal imports continue to be a problem and there isn't enough enforcement.

“Communication, anticipation, good governance and enforcement are key to avoid unpleasant surprises like refrigerant shortages and high prices.”

On the subject of current trends in the European Union, Voigt said there is a lot of interest in C02 and R32.

She said the biggest barrier right now is a shortage of skills.

“Increased flammability has intensified the problem and there are not a lot of women in the industry,” Voigt said.

“We have smarter products today so contractors need more skills.

“There is still more adaptation required in Europe because building codes in Europe don't allow for flammable refrigerants.

“Skilled installers are more important than ever as flammable, high pressure and toxic refrigerants as well as smart systems are increasingly part of the present and future of HVACR.”