In the HVAC world there is an upfront cost to saving energy in the long run. (Meaning, if you go with the cheapest options for your building they are not usually the most efficient options). When it is spelled out like that it is kind of a "No Duh" statement. But, how do you overcome that higher first cost of the better options when the money for the needed fix isn't really there and a replacement needed to happen yesterday?
Here is a general example I run into too many times. I am working with a client to identify energy conservation measures and evaluate the needs of the current building. They inform me that their current heating/cooling units in one building have failed and they are replacing them with "like" replacements. The first thing that I ask is "Have you thought about replacing the system with a more efficient counterpart?" Usually I get one of two responses, "Yes, but we can’t really afford anything better," or the dreaded "....(blank stare)." I can relate with both responses, especially the blank stare feeling, but buildings that are in need of repairs are also in need for improvement in energy conservation. This is because by the time your equipment has failed technology has improved by two generations. Most people don’t realize that a long term plan for energy needs to be developed incorporating their future needs and their commitment to reduction of energy consumption.
Energy improvements are measured in years and cannot be tamed overnight. The thing I recommend to all of our clients is the development of a plan to meet goals in energy, financial and needed maintenace. By bringing all of these goals together finances can be allocated and better strategies can be developed. Who doesn’t benefit from having a better plan? This idea of just doing a "like" replacement needs to go the way of the incandescent light bulb (Energy Pun).