We made it through a spring that brought record levels of rain to the Northwest, and summer is finally here! The warm weather brings HVAC efficiency opportunities both big and small. Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time you are on site for a maintenance call or responding to a customer’s inquiries about saving energy as the air-conditioning season comes into full swing.
- Sometimes it’s OK to throw in the towel. With strategic repairs and careful maintenance, older HVAC equipment can operate season after season—to a point. However, it’s a good idea to know when replacement makes economic sense. All HVAC equipment should be serviced from time to time, but when a unit consistently requires repairs, or fails to heat or cool as needed, it might be time to look at an energy-efficient replacement. Help your customer take stock of equipment that requires frequent servicing, and tally up the costs and benefits of replacement: current and expected repair costs, annual operation costs from older equipment, and utility incentives that help offset the cost of new equipment. Work with the owner to develop a replacement plan, including budget and timeline.
- Regular O&M is always a good choice. For equipment that is performing well, take time to change filters, clear bird screens of debris, and ensure modulating dampers are working properly. You’ll save headaches later as the cooling season ramps up by making sure dampers are operating correctly and delivering fresh air when needed.
- Low-cost upgrades are still a win. Consider installing advanced rooftop unit controls (ARC) on units that still perform but will benefit from a modernization. ARC saves a lot of energy and extends the existing HVAC unit’s life. Plus, built-in fault detection and the web-based interface that are part of ARC can make complaints and hours of troubleshooting a thing of the past. Many ARC systems come equipped with CO2 sensors, leading to better indoor air quality for building occupants.
- Don’t overlook unit cycling. It’s as important in the summer as in the winter. When the seasons change, ensure that the setpoints match the surrounding zones and have a four-degree dead band between them so the system does not toggle between heating and cooling. This is especially important in the Northwest when cooler mornings can trigger the heat for only a short time, then jump to cooling mode, which is highly inefficient.
Your customers will appreciate knowing all the options available to them for optimal HVAC performance year-round. While their minds are on cooling, take the opportunity to talk with them about saving energy and money with regular O&M, and by having a plan to replace older equipment before it’s an emergency. Show them the value of upgrades and maintenance that help keep building occupants happy.